The anniversary of Roe V Wade was Saturday, and I didn't post about it directly. I did post about Sarah Palin, because I am convinced that the antipathy that much of the progressive sector of America holds her in is related to the fact that she is a mother, and not only says she is anti-abortion, but chose to bear a child she knew to have Downs syndrome. But I didn't write the expected--of a Catholic Blogger--post on Roe v. Wade.
I didn't write it then because I didn't know how. I couldn't figure out how to put everything into it that I felt should be in it. And, I didn't write it because to be honest with anyone who reads this blog, or with myself, would entail pain that I didn't want to experience. Well, that's no excuse, because I want to think of myself as a courageous man and a courageous man doesn't let things like pain or fear keep him from doing what is right. Not that courage implies one does not know pain and fear, quite the opposite. Courage is going forward despite feeling pain and fear.
More than that, there is the modern mantra of "We're not hereto place blame". You can be sure that I intend to engage in some blatant, untactful blame placing. And I will let the chips fall where they may. Even if they fall on me. But we will never correct the murderous proclivities of Modern America unless we are willing to point fingers, and specifically say "This is your fault--you have created a nation of selfish and murderous sociopaths".
THE FIRST PART OF THE POST:
I'm going to do the hard part first. Abortion will never be theoretical for me, and it will never be free of at least some degree of guilt. It's too close to me, and I have been too close to it. What I'm about to relate is from a period in my life of which I am now profoundly ashamed. It's from the period when I had lost my faith. (I haven't ever really related why I lost my faith, and I doubt I ever will--it would be a book length narrative, and one which would do harm to me spiritually, I think. My falling away is entirely my own fault--I must say and accept that, because in no other way can I deal with it constructively--a narrative relating the circumstances would tend to encourage me to place blame for my own failing on others.)
I had entered an immoral relationship with a woman, which entailed "affectionate recreational sex". We weren't monogamous, and that wasn't even on the table. I was one of, I think, four guys she was having sex with. She became pregnant. We had no idea who the father was. One of the other guys was also a lapsed Catholic, a former Franciscan, in fact. My girl friend became pregnant, and was disturbed by it. It seems that she had been dysfunctional raised, to the point that her definition of a "slut" was a woman who let herself get pregnant. She became very disturbed, in a way that I can only describe as neurotic, and began gulping large amounts of herbal anemogogues. She was trying to induce an abortion. Finally she went to planned parenthood, and got a surgical abortion. I didn't take her there, and I didn't pay for the abortion. But I did nothing to stop it. I was too cowardly and confused, perhaps. The other lapsed catholic bailed on the relationship right after that--he could hang with the unusual arraignment, but not the abortion. I did my best to care for her after the abortion. We stayed together, and the other lovers went away, except for the fact we were promiscuous. We had the perfect progressive 90s relationship. We never made any kind of attempt at physical monogamy just so called "emotional monogamy". The relationship inevitably failed.
But the abortion itself didn't solve any problem. It left my lover with emotional scars that ran deep, and tormented her for a protracted period of time. We were deep into the Neopagan and occult community then, and part of a circle that had formed to do 'pathworking'--that is, ceremonial magick (sic) that explored the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The pain and guilt of the abortion, with the loss of self respect that her phobic antipathy to pregnancy combined, and hurt her. When it got to be too bad, she requested help with the problem of our little circle of sensitive, enlightened magicians--progressives all--and the result was an explosion. The very idea that she would ask for help after an abortion was abhorrent to the other women in the group--it couldn't be traumatic, it should be liberating, and she burst with fact into their theoretical bubble. One of the other women in the group lost her temper, stood up and announced that she had also recently had an abortion, and my lovers distress was simply a way to make her feel guilty, because my lover didn't have the strength of character to overcome patriarchal misogyny. She felt that it was some sort of violation of "sisterhood" to experience, let alone admit to, distress after an abortion. She stormed out of the room crying and cursing.
Every since then, I have moments when I wonder "Is one of my children dead?" In my more honest moments, I wonder "Was one of my children murdered?". I don't even know how to have a Mass said for a nameless aborted child. Would I have it said for "Foetus T."? It's troubling now, almost twenty years later.
There were other times when abortion touched my life closely. I had a dear friend, a beautiful, gentle hippy girl, who was like being around a slow stream or a soft breeze. One of the gentlest people I have ever met. She was in a "committed long term relationship", (without being married) and became pregnant. They were poor, she was a student at IU and he was working to support them while she went to school. An abortion seemed logical, so she had one. It troubled her as well, until one day she came to me and asked me to cast a circle and help her resolve her feelings. (I was at that time the "high priest" of a Coven and Grove--another reason, among many, that this period of my life is shameful to me.) So we cast the circle and she apologized to her dead child and begged it to forgive her, and expressed a desire to be with her child in their next incarnation--yeah, I know, weird new age stuff, but that's not what I remember most vividly--Then she turned to me and said that she was a vegetarian, a pacifist, that she didn't even wear leather. And she said "I have death face. I have to acknowledge that. I never thought of myself as having a death face." And the pain in her eyes wasn't in the least bit obscured by the tears. The relationship she was in ultimately failed.
The third brush with abortion I will recount is the most recent. I have a very dear and beloved friend. She has some problems, at least some of which stem from the fact that she developed precociously into a busty girl in middle school, and experienced a lot of sexual harassment to included guys grabbing her breasts and bottom out of the blue in her public school environment. She ended up being quite promiscuous and bisexual. She also ended up with a fondness for drugs. At one point she was a 'strawberry'--someone who can be given drugs--not drugged unconscious but gotten high-- and then used for sex. At one point, she ended up being more or less held in a house where they kept giving her Xanax and using her. Someone had to go in and get her out, when she was surrounded by young guys who thought they had a good thing going. She was so messed up that she was taken to the hospital, and she couldn't even remember what kind of sex she had engaged in. They treated her as a rape victim. She came to my house--I suppose she felt safe there--and on my couch, she reached into her bag, pulled out the "morning after pills" they gave her and took them. I wasn't expecting that. But the most poignant thing was the look in her eyes, a mixture pain, shame and defiance that I have never seen before or since.
So abortion can never be theoretical or simply a question of morality for me--I'm too close to it. It's always an immediate and human issue to me.
THE SECOND PART OF THE POST:
Now it's time to look at another question, to which I am turning in relief. Who is at fault? Who is responsible for the American Nation turning so enthusiastically to the murder of children? How did we get so evil?
Rest assured that we are an evil people: We have, since January 22 1973, killed 53,000,000 unborn children. To put that into some sort of perspective, realize that the Third Reich also built special facilities to kill those it didn't want, and racked up a total of 8,000,000 deaths in these facilities. Let's do some math: The third Reich lasted twelve years, so that means that on average they murdered 66,667 people a year in facilities dedicated to death. We, on the other hand, have murdered an average of 1,526,318 each year in facilities dedicated to the elimination of unwanted humans. You may think that an extreme way of putting it. I do not. This total also does not include those killed by abortificient drugs such as RU-486 and Ella. Those figure are, and will remain, known only to God. We cannot argue that we are not evil--we tolerate murder on a commercial scale for convenience. The question is, who is a fault. I shall give you my answer, and you will not like it.
This is the fault of the Catholic Church. Period, end of story.
This isn't the fault of some special segment of the Church. It reaches from Vatican Dicasteries to living rooms. And it has a history.
The document, The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles (The Didache) is one of the oldest extant Christian writings. It's older than some of the New Testament. And it contains specific prohibitions against abortion and birth control. Yet, somehow, we have come to a place where, in 2002, the CDC found that 97% of catholic women over the age of 18 had used contraception--the same as the population at large. And in 2005 it was found that 90% of Catholics approve of contraception. (No, I'm not getting off topic!) And more than 60%--a number which exceeds the average for all of the people of the US--approve of abortion. If you poll Catholics leaving Sunday Mass, nationwide, you will find more support for abortion than if you simply polled people, nation wide. It's horrible.
Contraception, and the contraceptive mentality, are linked to abortion. Pope Paul VI knew that, and said as much in Humanae Vitae. And his predictions have come true in the 42 years since the encyclical was issued. So how, if the Pope issued such an encyclical, is the current situation the fault of the Catholic Church in America? Well, look at the history of the encyclical itself.
When hormonal contraception debuted, it lead to confusion in the minds of many--it prevented the ovulation, and so many thought that it wasn't the same as using a diaphragm or a condom, or other methods such as the IUD. It's abortificient action was down played or denied. So the Vatican looked into it. A commission was appointed and examined the new contraceptive technology, and told the Pope they thought it was OK. The Pope, however, disagreed. For one thing, he know that the teaching authority of the Church was not invested in theologians (who have originated every heresy in the history of the Church) but in the Magisterium, and that the new technology violated the Teachings we have from the Apostles. He said no. That didn't sit to well with many theologians, because after all, theologians have been trying off and on for centuries to contest the authority of Bishops. (Look at the history of the Theology School at the University of Paris in the Middle Ages!) So when the Encyclical was released, theologians objected.
The Truce of 1968: Charles Curran, and 600 other theologians, penned a response to Humanae Vitae, which said in essence that the encyclical was wrong. Curran had been previously disciplined for dissenting from the Church's ancient teaching on human life, but had been "rehabilitated". (He also served as a peritus at the 2d Vatican Council.) Along with this, 19 priests in the Archdiocese of Washington publicly denounced the encyclical, and were punished for doing so. Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle went so far as to bar some of them from the active priesthood. Three years later he was directed to reinstate them if they made a private retraction. That was a mistake--and part of why I say the Vatican has a share in this matter--the priests had spoken out in public, but were not required to make a public retraction. The seemed to suddenly be all OK, and no one knew what had been said or done in closed doors. This confused a lot of people. Suddenly, to the laity, it seemed that everything about birth control, and hence abortion, was up for grabs. To priests and theologians, it meant that they could teach and say whatever they wanted, without fear of consequence. The clarity of Catholic Teaching was suddenly and hopelessly muddled. In reality, there were two Vatican level mistakes. One was the withdrawal of canonical penalties from those 19 priests. Another, more fundamental mistake was on the part of Pope Paul VI. He thought that an encyclical would be string enough. It wasn't. (It is my opinion that His Holiness should have issued an ex Cathedra statement that artificial birth control was sinful, and could not be condoned. Certainly, according to the First Vatican council, it was in his sphere of competency to do so. The Pope, speaking ex Cathedra on matters of faith and morals, in accordance with Scripture and Tradition, is infallible. Yes, people would have left the Church, but look at where we are now. We wouldn't be any worse off, and arguably would be better off as many have left because of the confusion in the Church.)
Suddenly dissenters felt that they were no longer subject to their bishops, and bishops felt that they were no longer assured of the Vatican's support. And the people in the pews watched all this, and reached the conclusion that they were thrown back upon their own judgments. Priest became timid about teaching about Birth Control, fearful of confrontations with angry parishioners who would be outraged to be told they were doing something sinful in the marriage chamber.
And the faithful who still held to the Church's teaching fell silent, afraid to contradict the dissenters. A great spirit of cowardice fell upon us all. Our politicians--that is to say Catholic politicians were at first pro life on the subject of abortions, after Roe v. Wade. But then they began to either fall silent, or publicly supported abortion "rights" when they realized that after the 1972 election, pro life stances could cost them standing with the Democratic Party. They began to emulate John Kennedy, and assert that their "faith" would play no role in politics.
And bishops cheerfully gave them communion and celebrated the sacraments with them, in contravention of canon law.
At the same time, Catechises fell apart. In Catholic High School, I received zero teaching on birth control. We quit teaching people.
And we remained silent while ever larger numbers of Catholics stopped opposing, and embraced, abortion. By denomination, we are now the largest religious group with significant numbers of abortion supporters. We continue to vote for politicians who trade on their willingness to kill babies in utero for votes, and our bishops still quail at refusing these hypocritical death mongers communion--to the detriment of both the politicians and the bishops hope of salvation. We do not even think it wise to organize boycotts of those businesses and entertainers that contribute time, money and talent to furthering the cause of abortion.
This happened, I will say largely, because we quit praying. The rosary fell by the wayside, replaced by various fads. We quit saying the prayer to St. Michael. We quit having Holy Hours and Eucharistic Devotion. We locked our churches so that individuals had a hard time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. In the middle of one of the greatest spiritual battles since the Conversion of Rome, we simply quit fighting. We stopped going to confession. We no longer worried abut being in a state of grace. We stopped being Catholic except for an hour on Sunday. We quit having parish missions and retreats devoted to prayer and repentance, and instead have workshops on political solutions. We quit worrying about the fact that we are struggling with Powers and principalities, or even the fact that we shall be judged.
We are the salt of the earth--that essential electrolyte and flavoring that makes life possible. Jesus told us to be salty--to have salt within ourselves (Mk 9:50), and we have, as a unified entity, the Body of Christ, failed. We are a light unto the nations, but we have shrouded ourselves under a basket. By letting our desires, on a personal level, over ride our desire for holiness--and we are called to be holy as our Father in Heaven is holy--on such a massive scale that we have failed to be militant. Oh, yes, many of us march in pro life marches, but many more of us don't. We have ceased to be the Church Militant, and have become a tasteless cowardly body. We have ceased to have the savor of our faith and become a bland and indistinguishable blob, undifferentiated from the culture around us. And Jesus said that if salt loses it's savor, it is fit for nothing.
We Catholics, striving together, were able to stop the drift into rampant eroticism and pornography in the movies in the 20s. We were part of the solution to the civil rights issue, We can and should affect the world around us by our voices and our votes. But we just don't. So when we start complaining about the culture of death, and about abortion, we should first complain about ourselves.
We didn't fight this evil--we cooperated.
The next time I hear a priest praise some organization that is pro abortion, even if it's from the pulpit, I promise to stand up and speak out loud about it. When ever i hear a Catholic say that the Church is coming around on condoms, I'm going to speak out loud about it. I will no longer be polite, or silent. Because if I do, I will make of myself an accessory to murder, and deny Our lord before men.
I will close with a quote from St. Catherine of Sienna, that I got from the Queen of the House: We've had enough of exhortations to be silent--cry out with a hundred thousand tongues! I see that the world is rotten because of silence!