When Francis began his service from the chair of Peter, much hoopla filled the media about some alleged softening in the opposition of the Catholic Church to what are dismissively referred to as complicated "moral issues" such as abortion. Sadly, even some in the Catholic media pushed this nonsense narrative. Pope Francis is prophetically and profoundly Pro-Life. He is simply doing what the Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter should do, positioning the evil of abortion within its proper moral context, the failure to recognize the dignity of every single human person at every age and stage of life. Procured abortion is only one of the poisonous fruits from the rotted tree growing in the corrupted garden of a culture of death.
On Saturday, August 16, 2014, during the apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis made a loud statement. However, he did not use words. He did not have to. His prophetic action brought to mind a saying attributed to his namesake, Francis of Asisi - I preach the Gospel at all times, but sometimes I use words."
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Vatican Radio) - On Saturday, August 16, 2014, during the apostolic visit to Korea, Pope Francis made a loud statement. However, he did not use words. He did not have to. His prophetic action brought to mind a saying attributed to his namesake, Francis of Assisi, "I preach the Gospel at all times, but sometimes I use words."
This modern day Francis in the Chair of Peter understands that actions speak louder than words. He visited the cemetery for innocent victims of procured abortion located in Kkottongnae, South Korea. The photo went all over the world.
The cemetery is a place of prayer, mourning, repentance and pilgrimage, dedicated to the millions of Korean children killed in the womb by procured abortion, an unspeakable evil and crime against the Natural Moral Law. The cemetery is located in a field just behind a home for 5,000 elderly and disabled persons about 120 miles from Seoul, Korea.
There are crosses throughout the field to honor all the innocent children taken by procured abortion while they were living in the womb, the first home of the whole human race. Many in the Press finally picked up on the undeniable fact that this is a profoundly Pro-Life Pope.
John Allen, an outstanding Catholic journalist and commentator who is now with the Boston Globe, had one of the best treatments of this visit.
When Francis began his service from the chair of Peter, much hoopla filled the media about some alleged softening in the opposition of the Catholic Church to what are dismissively referred to as complicated "moral issues" such as abortion. Sadly, even some in the Catholic media pushed this nonsense narrative. Yet, as John Allen correctly pointed out:
"In a November 2013 document "Evangelii Gaudium" ("Joy of the Gospel"), Francis wrote that the church's defense of unborn life "cannot be expected to change" because it's "closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right."
"In a January speech to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, generally considered the pope's top annual politics and foreign policy speech, Francis returned to the theme. "It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said.
"In April, during an audience with members of an Italian pro-life movement, the pontiff used even stronger rhetoric.
"It is necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless, and her unborn child in the womb is the innocent par excellence," the pope said. "Life once conceived must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes," he said."
Pope Francis is prophetically and profoundly Pro-Life. He is simply doing what the Bishop of Rome and successor of Peter should do, positioning the evil of abortion within its proper moral context, the failure to recognize the dignity of every single human person at every age and stage of life. Procured abortion is only one of the poisonous fruits from the rotted tree growing in the corrupted garden of a culture of death.
In the March 24, 2014 edition of the Telegraph ran an article entitled "Aborted Babies Incinerated to heat UK Hospitals" by Sarah Nappton, a Science correspondent. Here is an excerpt:
"The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found. Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in 'waste-to-energy' plants which generate power for heat.
"The bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals, an investigation has found. Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning fetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in 'waste-to-energy' plants which generate power for heat. Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded 'totally unacceptable.'
Certainly this discontinued practice was an extreme example of what Pope Francis calls a throwaway culture.It is not the only one. I have reported on numerous occasions of bodies of aborted children found in dumpsters. When we treat children as trash, it reveals a profound corruption of culture.
On Monday, January 13, 2014, Pope Francis gathered with more than 180 Ambassadors accredited to the Holy See from around the world. He gave his state of the world address, challenging every Nation to build an authentically human social and international order which promotes peace and fraternity.
We do that by recognizing, respecting and protecting the dignity of every human person, living out our obligation to one another in solidarity and responding to our duty to care for the poor in our midst, in all of their manifestations. When we live this way we also promote the genuine common good. It was a beautiful address which can be read in its entirety here.
Much of the international press missed what the Pope offered - a morally coherent, consistent and crystal clear affirmation of the dignity of every human person, the fundamental moral truth which is at the foundation of all Catholic Social Doctrine. Instead, they parsed the address and ran it through their absurdly simplistic political language filters, using charged labels such as conservative, liberal and progressive in their poor reporting.
The party line of much of the media was expressed by Philip Pullella in a Reuter's report entitled Pope, after conservatives' criticism, calls abortion horrific which claimed that - "Since his election in March, the pope, while showing no signs of changing the church's position against abortion, has not spoken out against it as sternly or as repeatedly as his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and the late John Paul II. Both of those popes often delivered sermons against abortion, which the church considers murder. "
The first incorrect inference in this piece was that the Church considers procured abortion to be murder solely because of religious doctrine. The truth is every procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life. That is scientifically and ontologically a fact. The intentional taking of innocent human life is murder.
The other inference is that Pope Francis is now only speaking out on the intrinsic evil of every procured abortion to somehow silence his conservative critics. Sadly, this lightweight narrative has been propelled by some in the media, secular and religious, since Francis assumed the Chair of Peter.
The truth is that Francis is as passionately, prophetically and profoundly Pro-Life as his predecessors. In fact, with his inspired turn of phrase, Throwaway Culture, he gave the Pro-Life cause a fresh verbal and conceptual framework. The excerpt from the address which became the material for many of the articles came from this portion:
"Peace is also threatened by every denial of human dignity, firstly the lack of access to adequate nutrition. We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often termed "the throwaway culture". Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as "unnecessary".
"For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity. Nor can we be unmoved by the tragedies which have forced so many people to flee from famine, violence and oppression, particularly in the Horn of Africa and in the Great Lakes Region.
"Many of these are living as fugitives or refugees in camps where they are no longer seen as persons but as nameless statistics. Others, in the hope of a better life, have undertaken perilous journeys which not infrequently end in tragedy. I think in particular of the many migrants from Latin America bound for the United States, but above all of all those from Africa and the Middle East who seek refuge in Europe."
What Francis did in this address to the diplomats is what Catholic Social Doctrine always does; he presented a morally coherent worldview. This morally coherent worldview recognizes the primacy of the human person and our obligations in solidarity within the context of the entirety of the spectrum of human life and the complete circle of social solidarity.
We begin this consistent and coherent worldview with the dignity of every human person. Human Persons are created in the Image of God. They have an inherent dignity precisely because of that fact - at every age and stage of their lives.
This foundational vision informs the Christian position concerning the respect for every human life whether that life be found in the first home of the womb, a wheelchair, a jail cell, a hospital room, a hospice, a senior center, a soup kitchen or on a refugee boat.
The Media does not understand the teaching proclaimed by the Catholic Church concerning the dignity of absolutely every human life. Sadly, that includes some within the Catholic media. Nor does it understand that our insistence upon protecting the Fundamental Human Right to Life is not merely a matter of our adherence to our religious beliefs. It is a response to the truth revealed by the Natural Moral Law and confirmed by medical science.
The Child in the womb is our neighbor. It is always and everywhere wrong to take innocent human life. The Pro-Life position is a human solidarity position. The embryonic human person, the child in the womb, the disabled, the needy, the poor, the elderly, the refugee, the enslaved, the impoverished and the hungry are all members of our human family - and we are all our neighbors.
The more I hear Pope Francis speak, both through his prophetic actions and his messages, the more I am convinced that he will go down in history as one of the great Pro-Life Popes of this age. In fact, I predict that his expression throwaway culture will soon inform the entire human rights movement that is called Pro-Life. He stands on the shoulders of giants.
In 1995, Saint John Paul II issued an encyclical letter on the inviolable dignity of every human life entitled, in Latin, Evangelium Vitae. It is referred to in English as The Gospel of Life and has become one of the primary sources of teaching to defend the Pro-Life position, in its entirety. Within that letter he used the expression Culture of Life and contrasted it with the Culture of Death.
Under the expression Culture of Death John Paul coalesced many of the current social evils; from procured abortion (which is always and everywhere intrinsically evil); to modern slaveries, (including pornography and drug addiction); disdain for the poor and a cheapening of all life as well as the foreboding momentum toward a misguided use of new medical technologies; to active and passive euthanasia and the return of eugenics in the use of new technologies of selective birth.
Saint John Paul II made clear that legalized abortion was only one aspect of the evil unleashed by a culture which has rejected the dignity of every human person as its baseline of compassion and its understanding of human rights.
Any time human persons are treated as products to be used rather than gifts to be received, we witness the advance of a culture of death and use. Any time human persons are aborted, discarded, manipulated, enslaved, traded, and made a means rather than an end, we find the advance of the culture of death and an open assault against the Culture of Life and Civilization of Love.
By positioning procured abortion within the realm of evil at work in and which is running rampant through what Francis calls a throwaway culture, which values things over persons, he gave us a fresh framework for our work.
Every procured abortion kills a child through the injection of poison, saline burning, the collapsing of their skull, or the severing of their limbs - and we do not hear about it. We have closed our eyes to the truth of what is going on in our Nation. Babies are treated as trash in a throwaway culture.
Thousands of children are routinely killed every day in the United States. You can watch the numbers rise here. Usually, the disposal of their little bodies is hidden from our eyes as they are thrown away as trash. We do not ever see what an abortion really looks like.
When people try to show us graphic images of the remains of a child killed by abortion, they are called extremists. In fact, what is extreme is the violence being committed against the victim child. Oh, and let's talk about Rights. His or her fundamental Human Right to Life is now disregarded.
Our unwanted children are being aborted and thrown into dumpsters as medical waste! In addition, in some instances, children who are not wanted after birth are being placed in dumpsters. They were burned for heat in hospitals in England until the evil was discovered.
This is a modern resurgence of the ancient pagan practice once called exposure. Exposure was practiced in the cultures into which the early Christian church was sent on mission. Unwanted babies were left out on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey or taken by slave traders. It was the Christians who saved them and transformed those cultures from cultures of death into cultures of life.
These contemporary examples substitute a trash can, an incinerator or a dumpster for the rock. We must take up the task of rescuing them in this hour. We must also be honest about what is happening. Children are being treated as trash. We are indeed living in a throwaway culture.
The truth concerning the humanity of the child in the womb and their fundamental Human Right to be born is beginning to win the hearts and minds of more people daily. Medical Science is a true Pro-Life ally.
Sonograms showing us a film of our first neighbors in their first home in the womb have become commonplace. We watch these children smile, play, feel pain and grow. The images are showing up on television commercials, and being sent over our smart phones.
This is a sure sign in a consumerist culture that this technology is having at least one positive effect. Only a deceived person can see that child in the womb as anything other than just that, a child, a human person, and our neighbor.
Physicians are routinely operating in utero -to help these children in need - and then placing them back in the first home of the womb to be delivered full term. Parents are playing music to children in the womb. Psychologists encourage communication between parents and their child in the womb.
In August of 2013 the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences confirmed that babies in the womb hear what their mothers say to them when they are in the womb. They also remember it once they are born.
The findings demonstrate that children in the womb can actually learn. The efforts to use dehumanizing phrases to hide the perfidy of procured abortion are now failing and the tide is turning. Medical science and technology confirm what our conscience told us all along, the child in the first home of the whole human race is our neighbor and it is wrong to kill innocent neighbors.
Pope Francis, the Pope of Human Dignity and Solidarity, has given us a new phrase which will help us in our human rights struggle -the phrase throwaway culture. Read these words spoken in January of this year once again:
"It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day. Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary.'
Now, after his visit to the cemetery for the children killed in the womb in Korea, there is another vital tie in which Pope Francis is making in his prophetic and passionate defense of life. He is calling the attention of the whole world to the growing evil of human trafficking. The Vatican just announced the theme for the upcoming World Day of Peace in 2015, "Slaves no more, but brothers and sisters".
I conclude with the details given to the press by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace:
"Many people think that slavery is a thing of the past. In fact, this social plague remains all too real in today's world. Last year's Message for 1 January 2014 was dedicated to brotherhood: "Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace". Being children of God gives all human beings equal dignity as brothers and sisters.
"Slavery deals a murderous blow to this fundamental fraternity, and so to peace as well. Peace can only exist when each human being recognizes every other person as a brother or sister with the same dignity.Too many abominable forms of slavery persist in today's world: human trafficking, trade in migrants and prostitutes, exploitation, slave labor, and the enslavement of women and children."
"Shamefully, individuals and groups around the world profit from this slavery. They take advantage of the world's many conflicts, of the economic crisis and of corruption in order to carry out their evil. Slavery is a terrible open wound on the contemporary social body, a fatal running sore on the flesh of Christ!"
"To counter slavery effectively, the inviolable dignity of every person must be recognized above all. Moreover, this acceptance of dignity must be anchored solidly in fraternity. Fraternity requires us to reject any inequality which would allow one person to enslave another. It demands instead that we act everywhere with proximity and generosity, thus leading to liberation and inclusion for everyone."
"Our purpose is to build a civilization based on the equal dignity of every person without discrimination. To achieve this will also require the commitment of the media, of education and of culture to a renewed society pledged to freedom, justice and therefore peace".
"The World Day of Peace, initiated by Pope Paul VI, is celebrated each year on the first day of January. The Holy Father's Message is sent to all the world's Foreign Ministers and also indicates the Holy See's diplomatic line during the coming year."
Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate.
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