Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are witnessing a new front in the expansion of the Culture of death and we must act.

The early Roman Empire was a Culture of death. The Christian Church was called into it to transform it from within and build a Culture of life. They lived as leaven, light and salt for the world into which they were sent. Our situation at the beginning of the Third Millennium is similar.

A baby box or hatch where an unwanted newborn has been left

A baby box or hatch where an unwanted newborn has been left

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: abortion, infanticide, exposure, baby boxes, hatches, Rome, Greec, didache, dignetus, Culture of Life, Culture of death, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - One of my favorite early Christian writings is the letter to Diognetus. A poignant portion of the letter can be read on the Vatican website here. It is one of the earliest examples of Christian "apologetics". The word does NOT mean apologizing for the faith but rather defending the faith.

The letter was written to a pagan inquirer to the Christian faith in the second century. The writer explains some of the practices of the early Christians which set them apart from the pagan cultures into which they were sent. One example of the Christian way of life was their faithful monogamous marriages (only between men and women) and their willingness to welcome children as a gift. They did not engage in non-marital sexual relationships. They did not abort children in the womb or expose their babies after birth.

The unknown writer notes of Christians, "there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh". 

In the ancient Roman and Greek world primitive forms of abortion were practiced. They did not have the sophisticated means we have at our disposal to kill the children by reaching into their first home, their mothers womb. Exposure, the practice of leaving unwanted children out on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey, picked up by slave traders, or die from the exposure to the elements, was also common. At times, the motive of leaving the baby was to prevent their death. However, the practice became a form of child abandonment and infanticide. 

The first/second century Greek historian Plutarch, who became a Roman citizen, wrote of the practice of exposure, "the father took his child and brought it to the elders of the tribe. They examined the child, and if it was well formed and strong, ordered it to be raised, but if the child was ill-born and maimed, they discarded it in the so-called Apothetae, a kind of pit, on the grounds that it was not worth the rearing."

Ancient Rome had "paterfamilias" in their legal code. It gave men the power of life or death over children. The Romans adopted a pseudo-religious defense of the practice claiming that "Romulus (one of the purported founders of the Empire) compelled the citizens to raise every male child and the first-born of the females, and he forbade them to put to death any child under three years of age, unless it was a cripple or a monster from birth. He did not prevent the parents from exposing such children, provided that they had displayed them first to the five nearest neighbors and had secured their approval."

The Christians of the first millennium lived an entirely different way of life than the pagans around them on these matters. One of the earliest Catechisms, the "Didache" or teaching of the twelve , contrasted the way of life and the way of death. Christians were commanded "Do not kill a fetus by abortion, or commit infanticide." Christians rescued children left to die by exposure and took them into their homes, raising them as their own.

The early Roman Empire was a Culture of death. The Christian Church was called into it to transform it from within and build a Culture of life. They lived as their Lord had taught them and become leaven, light and salt for the world into which they were sent. As the letter to Diognetus recorded, "To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body."

Our situation at the beginning of the Third Millennium is similar. The "empires" we live under may not be ancient Rome, but the worldview is similar. It is arguably more brutal when it comes to children in the womb. Abortion for any reason and at any time is now called a "right". The police power of the State, rather than protect the child, protects the ones who take their lives.

So, I was saddened but not shocked to read this week of the return of what could become a new practice of exposure - and the interesting complications posed in this age of sperm banks and new "reproductive" technologies. Randeep Ramesh of the Guardian newspaper in a Sunday June 12, 2012 article entitled "Spread of 'baby boxes' in Europe alarms United Nations"  wrote concerning the growing practice.

The article reported on the growing use of "baby boxes where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice "contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents." However there is a twist to the story. The boxes (or hatches) are often placed outside of hospitals and intended to save the children. Some are sponsored by monasteries or well intended Church or faith based groups who actually want to save babies. 

The writer noted "It is the United Nations raising the complaint and expressing a concern for the rights of the children. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which reports on how well governments respect and protect children's human rights, is alarmed at the prevalence of the hatches - usually outside a hospital - which allow unwanted newborns to be left in boxes with an alarm or bell to summon a carer."

"In western Europe the issue is complicated by religious practice and the law. Sari Essayah, Finnish MEP from the centre-right Christian Democrats, pointed out that in Scandinavia "two lesbians can get sperm anonymously and have children. They don't know the name of the donor. So what about the rights of the child? The UN have got it wrong here about baby boxes."

"Perhaps the most taxing problem will be Germany, the powerhouse of Europe, which has about 80 baby boxes operating across the nation. The German constitution says all citizens have a right to "know of their origins" and fathers have a right to be part of a child's upbringing. Both are breached when a mother gives birth anonymously."

"Hatches are tolerated - but earlier this year German ministers floated the possibility of a new "legal framework for confidential births. In February the German Youth Institute found that the anonymous service had lost trace of a fifth of all abandoned babies - giving ammunition to those who want to end the practice".

We also have a Catechism which gives us instruction, as did our brethren in the early part of the first millennium.  Article Four treats the Morality of Human Acts. It explains that, "Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil."
 
In evaluating the morality of an act we are to look to the "Sources of Morality": "The morality of human acts depends on: the object chosen; the end in view or the intention; the circumstances of the action. The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the "sources," or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts." (CCC # 1749, 1750)

So, judging the immorality or morality of this modern form of exposure requires an analysis of the intention of the actor. It is not the box or hatch - just like it was not the rock - which determines morality. It was the person leaving the child who was and is engaged in either a moral or an immoral act.

With the ancient form of exposure in Rome - sometimes the motive of leaving the child was to save the lives of the children. However, just as it was with exposure on the rocks used in the early centuries of the first millennium, the practice of baby boxes or hatches itself, abandoning newborn children, is a foreboding sign and requires our attention and intervention as Christians.It raises once again the very serious question at the heart of the decay of Western culture, the loss of respect for the dignity of every human life. 

We are witnessing a new front in the expansion of the Culture of Death and we must act properly. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Europe

Evangelical, Missionary Pope Francis Calls Europe to Return to Jesus Christ and Christian Roots Watch

Image of The European Parliament building

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I believe that Europe has many resources for going forward. It's like a sickness that Europe has today. A wound. And the greatest resource is the person of Jesus. Europe, return to Jesus! Return to that Jesus whom you have said was not in your roots! And this is ... continue reading


Father William Nolan appointed by Pope Francis as Bishop of Galloway Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has appointed Father William Nolan, vicar general of Motherwell, as Bishop of Galloway. Father Nolan says he is "over-awed" by the appointment. He has served in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes, East Kilbride, for 20 years. Nolan will replace ... continue reading


Rome's Colosseum to host cultural events again Watch

Image of Occasional concerts are held inside the Colosseum but the rebuilding of the arena's wooden flooring would allow more frequent events.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It once hosted bloody sports galore, with gladiators fighting to the death as well as Christians being thrown to the lions. Now, Rome, Colosseum will begin hosting less blood-soaked events. Italy's culture minister has given the green light for special events ... continue reading


Pope Francis appoints Robert Sarah to head the Vatican's congregation of liturgical practices Watch

Image of Robert Sarah, the 46-year-old president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, has been named by Pope Francis to head a congregation on liturgical practices.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea has been appointed the new head for the Vatican congregation that oversees and determines the liturgical practices of the Catholic Church world wide. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis made the appointment on November ... continue reading


SCARY VIDEO! What the heck blew up in Russia's sky? Was it a meteor or something stranger?! Watch

Image of A still taken from footage of the phenomena that took place in Russia on November 14.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What was the mysterious phenomena that occurred in Russia and was witnessed and captured on camera by dozens of motorists? It appears that nobody knows for sure, and even experts are left scratching their heads while they struggle to find reasonable explanations. ... continue reading


Who really was Jack the Ripper? New evidence points to one man Watch

Image of A criminologist from England may have new evidence that points towards the real identity of Jack the Ripper.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new theory about the identity of infamous 19th century London serial killer Jack the Ripper may explain why the murderer was able to elude contemporary and modern authorities for so long and escape justice. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Dr. Gareth Norris, a ... continue reading


Which countries drink the most beer? Our list may surprise you! Watch

Image of Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Who still drinks beer?  Beer is one of the most widely consumed beverages, behind water and tea.  Beer is also a Catholic tradition, alongside wine-making, and has been widely practiced in monasteries, especially in Europe. Now, a list has emerged detailing ... continue reading


To raise money for the poor, Pope Francis to raffle gifts Watch

Image of The tickets are only a modest 10, but this includes a new Fiat Panda 4x4, with all optional extras.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Talking the talk, walking the walk: Pope Francis has done it again. The pontiff is raffling gifts that have been given to him in order to raise money for the poor. Posters announcing the raffle have gone up all over Vatican City. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Russia could destabilize Eastern Europe if Ukraine left unchecked, Merkel warns Watch

Image of It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's exceedingly tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She says that Russia's annexation of Crimea and subsequent destabilization of eastern Ukraine "called the whole of the European peaceful order into question." Adding to the gloomy outlook was a ... continue reading


The Pope Who Builds Showers for the Poor under St Peters Rattles our Comfort Zones Watch

Image of Pope Francis embracing Jesus in the face of the poor

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Those who love the poor - like Jesus loved the poor- are an instruction manual for the rest of us. They are a sign of the kingdom, making it present in their wake. We have such a man in this Pope named Francis. He recognizes that poverty is more than a lack of ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Revelation 20:1-4, 11--21:2
1 Then I saw an angel come down from heaven with the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5-6, 8
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:29-33
29 And he told them a parable, 'Look at the fig tree ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 28th, 2014 Image

St. Catherine Laboure
November 28: St. Catherine Laboure, virgin, was born on May 2, 1806. At an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter