Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong!By: Bishop Edward M. Rice
There I was, sitting in the Senate Chamber of our State Capitol in Jefferson City on Oct. 8 listening to a presentation on violence as part of the Missouri Catholic Conference. Gazing upon the beautiful stained glassed windows and intricate carvings of the majestic setting that depicts Lady Justice, my eyes rested upon the above statement emblazoned on the upper wall. And as I pondered the importance of that statement I decided that it would be a great way to begin my next column for The Mirror. After some research I discovered the phrase was utilized often in the argument against slavery: “Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong!” To find that phrase in the Senate Chamber is an unexpected source of inspiration and a challenge as our state government discusses legislation pertinent to the “common good.” Hopefully the members of the State Senate will not only contemplate, but heed its message.
As we progress through Respect Life Month, October, and anticipate the upcoming election, the Church asks us to ponder what it means to be pro-life. Yes, the Roman Catholic Church is pro-life: staunchly pro-life, without reservation pro-life, unequivocally pro-life! Unless you have been in a cave on a deserted island since 1973 the above statement should come as no surprise. Even those who do not share our stance recognize our position. And our pro-life stance stretches across all the “life issues” from the womb to the tomb.
In the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, our belief in the sanctity of human life has compelled Catholic Charities to establish a home for pregnant women, LifeHouse Crisis Maternity House, which gives these women the support and resources they need to pull themselves out of poverty and be self-sufficient. It compels our work to provide shelter for homeless families at Trinity Hills Catholic Worker House and Farm. Our belief in the sanctity of human life compels so many of our parishes to reach out to the needy of our area through parish-based St. Vincent de Paul Societies, canned food drives, clothing drives, and food pantries. During this Year of Mercy, these are just a few of the ways the Corporal Works of Mercy assist in our pro-life efforts.
In addition, we also advocate for policies that promote respect across all the issues of life. We continue to be a voice for the unborn as we speak out against abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, and human cloning. Do you recall the movie “The Island of Dr. Moreau?” The 1977 science fiction film depicts the work of a scientist, Dr. Moreau, who combined human DNA with that of animals, resulting in deformed hybrid mutants. I remember being sick to my stomach as I watched the movie. Fast forward to Aug. 4, 2016, when the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it plans to lift its moratorium on funding research that involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos, thus creating part-human and part-animal organisms knows as chimeras. This means that, for the first time, the federal government will begin spending taxpayer dollars on the creation and manipulation of new beings whose very existence blurs the line between human and non-human animals. What was once science fiction is now a real horror story! The research process relies on the killing of humans at the embryonic stage to harvest stem cells. It involves the production of animals that could have partly or substantially human brains.
What will PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, say about such research? Surely, they would be horrified at the barbaric and sadistic treatment of animals. What about all the pet owners out there? Would you want your dog or cat or other family pet used for such experimentation? So, how much more outraged should we be at the barbaric and sadistic treatment of human life as well? I quote from an Aug. 5, 2016, article from Time magazine, “But the agency (NIH) now says that it will lift the ban … these include experiments in which human stem cells are added to very early embryos of other animals, and studies in which the human stem cells are injected into the brains of mammals other than rats and mice.” Although the NIH will not allow chimeras to reproduce or human stem cells be injected into primates, the imagery of Frankenstein comes to mind.
As Catholics, we should always be mindful that we must never do evil that good will come of it (Rom 3:8). There can be no negotiation or compromise when it comes to rejecting evil actions and choices. Certain kinds of human acts are incapable of being ordered to love of God and neighbor as they radically attack the good of the person made in His image (cf. “Veritatis Splendor,” 80-81). We call these acts “intrinsically evil” because by definition they are always wrong, no matter if motivated by a good intention or difficult circumstances.
Laws which promote or condone these actions are profoundly unjust and contrary to the common good. Such unjust laws represent the corruption of law and are a structure of sin. Candidates for elective office who defend or promise to pass such laws do harm to our nation and their own soul. The Second Vatican Council, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a list of intrinsically evil acts:
Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture, and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work, which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons. All these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator (“Gaudium et Spes,” 27.)
Again, I quote from the Senate Chamber, “Nothing is politically right that is morally wrong.” Please join me in praying that our elected officials will continue to ponder the significance of those words as they consider legislation that protects all human life and promotes respect for human dignity. Let us ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit upon whoever is elected as our new President, Senator, Governor, State Attorney General, and all the rest of the local offices that will be filled this November. ©TM