Thursday, April 5, 2007

A LETTER TO A FRIEND - PART I

The Triduum is upon us and as such I am not able to craft an entry for you each day. This is probably the exact time that inspirational messages should be put forth preparing us for the great celebration of Easter, but parish comes first and I must focus energies there.

In lieu of a full daily blog entry a letter will be shared with you over the next three days. (It is a long letter.) It was written in response to a post that I received from a person whom I dearly love. Our view of the world differs dramatically and that invariably leads to in depth conversations.

I was struck that this site has been a part of her reading. She challenged me on my pro-life stance, which shows up from time to time on Adam's Ale, and it caused me to sit back and discern the calling to be pro-life. The following is my response to her thought-provoking questions. (Most of the links were included in the "letter.")

First a preface: Over at "For God, Country, and Yale" there is a great little synopsis of a talk given by Professor Richard Stith that sets the back ground well for this letter and makes clear the difficulties.

And now, excerpts from the letter:

I agree with you, abortion is an ugly solution to an ugly problem. It is also a symptom, not the root of the problem. Solutions to the real problem will depend on one’s stance as to when a person has basic inherit dignity. (Links courtesy of Being Frank) Do we always have this dignity or must we earn it? Do we have it sometimes and not at others depending on circumstances? What criteria can we use so as make it Okay to kill a human being in the womb? Can we say it is because they are soulless (as so many have been declared throughout history in order to justify our abuse of them)? Is it because the embryo is not a known person yet? Could it be because he or she does not look like a person yet? Because they’ve not been heard as a person yet? Because they have not yet exercised enough of what an average older human person has done in order to be declared worthy of life? Are we willing to say that a human person does not deserve dignity; that they only deserve dignity because of what they are able to do including surviving outside of the womb? (In other words, is nobody due dignity and rights simply for being human? Must they be able to do something for it?) This has universal implications.

And how do we draw the line for when it is Okay to do away with a baby and when it is not? The first trimester? What absolute criteria would keep us from not going into the second or third (other than to say, “We wouldn’t”)? If we can make a clear case abortion in the first trimester, it is not too difficult to make a case for it at any period while in the Mother’s womb. From there it is not hard to make a case able to do the same thing in the early stages of infancy as indeed some are already advocating. Is there really a great deal of difference between a recently born baby boy and his twin sister still in the womb? What if one were to become deformed or mentally reduced after birth to an extent at which we would have said it would be permissable to abort them before birth? Are they now less than? Why not? If we say so about a human life in the womb, what is to prevent us eventually applying the exact same criteria for those outside of the womb?

Once it becomes legal in any case to do away with a person, it places the basic right to life of the next person in line on shakier ground thereby establishing a slippery slope that is difficult to contain since basic human dignity is compromised.

The next in line might be the disabled (who were protesting in fear at the capitol during the Right to Life rallies. According to many who are for abortion, they were not worthy to have been born in the first place. Ask those at the rally how they feel about that.) What about the elderly? What about my Dad? Is he less of a human being and less deserving the respect we give human beings because of his Alzheimer’s? Why not?

What of assisted suicide? The fact is that most people who are talked out of suicide end up with satisfying lives. Yet just when people are at their lowest ebb and in need of human support to be with them through their darkest moments, some want the right to confirm them in their unworthiness and assist them in destroying themselves. Life becomes a commodity that can be wasted at will. This too has implications outside of the focused area of assisted suicide.


What about criminals? Or “the enemy?” Every time we place anyone on the “Okay to Kill” list, our own case for dignity is weakened, our own safety in this world is compromised, which may not seem so terrifying until it does begin to effect your neighbor or oneself.

7 comments:

Stephen said...

Thanks for the reference, Father.

Fr. V said...

You are welcome,

And thanks for your great blog.

Eileen said...

I came across your blog from Amy Welborn. Also being from Cleveland I was interested in seeing a Cleveland priest's viewpoint. I'm not disappointed, your blog is interesting. I wondered if you had seen the PD today showing the Bishop washing the feet of a woman. Any thoughts?

Fr. V said...

Welcome Eileen.

Yes, thoughts - but not good ones. I love (being sarcastic and I hope not overly sensitive) the beautiful, large picture of the bishop just over the bold headlines about a pastor being taken to court over a sex abuse incident. You won't find out that it has nothing to do with the Catholic Church until well into the article much deeper in the paper. Thoughts at your end?

Anonymous said...

Honestly, once I saw the photo yesterday (my heart sank) I put it down and I believe the paper is now in the circular file. I didn't even see the headline you mentioned. I really haven't heard too much about Bishop Lennon other than his parish visiting (not ours yet) and then reading what you said about his high school visits. I guess my hope was to see a traditional Bishop all the way around...this indicates to me, not so much.

Eileen said...

I didn't mean to hit "anonymous" on that post...it's me :)

Fr. V said...

Eh,

Eileen - give him time to come into his kingdom (so to speak).