Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Deadened to the horror of abortion...

Archbishop Charles Chaput recently told Lifesite News, "It seems that we have become deadened to the horror of abortion." Full article here. Too many Catholics (and other Christians) have been too apathetic for too long. Evil has become institutionalized. In this week's Catholic Free Press, Joan Fenno Grammel of Fitchburg (a former correspondent for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette) wrote, "I have to begin this letter with my feelings of dismay at seeing so much being made in The Catholic Free Press of a person who is promoting the murder of unborn babies and yes, even born babies. When Obama, who is that person, was in the Senate did he not vote in favor of partial birth abortion? Another name for this is infanticide, the murder of a baby...When I found out that fifty percent of all Catholics voted for Obama in the November election I cringed to think that the faith that I have always lived by and love was ignored by the Catholics who don't have the 'guts' to stand up for the gift of life that Almighty God has chosen to give all of us..." Well said. I called Ms. Grammel to thank her for her letter to the editor witnessing to the sacredness of life and the apathy which is only serving to accelerate the moral death of our once-great nation.

It was Dr. James Brendan Smith, in an article published by The Maryfaithful, who said that, "Unless the overwhelming majority of our citizens have a change of heart, and the courage and strength to implement it, our once-Christian country will sccumb to the final agony of moral death in which we find ourselves today. The greatest evil of our time is not in the vocal and widely publicized minority who openly defy the laws of God as well as those of our country, but the silent millions who, by their silence, permit these evils to be perpetrated....Our goals are comfort, convenience and pleasure. Let someone else shoulder the responsibility [of opposing these evils], and let principles be damned. We have allowed ourselves to be so hopelessly misled that we now condemn, ridicule, and penalize virtue, while rewarding evil. We have decided that our plan for the universe is better than God's so, while priding ourselves on the scientific achievements which prolong life, we suppress the natural forces that produce life. In our pitiable self-righteousness we abolish capital punishment for the arch-criminal convicted of horrible atrocities but we murder innocent, defenseless infants in their mother's wombs. We consigned the principles given to us by Almighty God Himself, on which our Church and our country were founded, to the most remote recesses of our minds.."

Ours is a termite society being prepared today for the control and direction of the coming Antichrist. Gone is the Cardinal Virtue of Fortitude which resists the difficulties of mind and body while seeking, defending and promoting the truth and holiness of the Gospel. Am I being an alarmist here? Is Archbishop Chaput? Hardly. Many years ago (when times were much, much better than they are today), Pope St. Pius X said, "In our time more than ever before the greatest asset of the evilly disposed is the cowardice and weakness of good men, and all the vigor of Satan's reign is due to the easygoing weakness of Catholics. Oh! If I might ask the divine Redeemer, as the prophet Zachary did in spirit: 'What are those wounds in the midst of Your hands?' the answer would not be doubtful. 'With these I was wounded in the house of those who did nothing to defend Me and who, on every occasion, made themselves the accomplices of My adversaries.' And this reproach can be levelled at the weak and timid Catholics of all countries." (Beatification of Joan of Arc, December 13, 1908).

Reflect on this. And when you are brought to tears, do penance and pray for the Holy Spirit's Gift of Fortitude.


Michael Cole said...

Catholics are remaining silent while the forces of Antichrist prepare:

More Government, Less God: What the Obama Revolution Means for Religion in America
by W. Bradford Wilcox
March 03, 2009
While many social conservatives have focused attention on Obama’s liberal social commitments, few have considered what effects an expanded welfare state will have on religious belief—or how these religious effects will in turn impact civic virtue, personal responsibility, altruism, or solidarity. If the European experience with the welfare state and religion is any indication, the Obama revolution could well lead the United States down the secular path already trod by Europe.

In his successful drive for the presidency, Barack Obama went out of his way to cultivate churchgoing Americans. Obama spoke frankly and fluidly about his faith, he participated in Pastor Rick Warren’s candidates’ forum at the Saddleback megachurch, he reached out personally and persistently to evangelical and Catholic leaders, and his campaign targeted American religious groups like no other Democratic candidate for president has in recent times. Moreover, Obama and his campaign downplayed his socially liberal views, stressed his commitment to tolerance and civility toward those with whom he disagreed on social issues, and sought to underline the ways in which his progressive policy positions were consistent with biblical faith and Catholic Social Teaching.

Obama’s efforts paid off. In 2008, according to CNN exit polls, Obama won forty-three percent of the presidential vote among voters who attend religious services once a week or more, up from Senator John Kerry’s thirty-nine percent in 2004. Obama did especially well with Black and Latino believers. But he also made real inroads among traditional white Catholics, according to a recent article by John Green in First Things.

His cultivation of churchgoing Americans has not let up since winning the election. From his selection of Rick Warren to deliver his inaugural invocation to his public support for charitable choice to his recent remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama has sought to signal to the faithful in America that his administration is no enemy to religion.

I do not doubt the sincerity of Obama’s religious intentions. But while many social conservatives have pointed a spotlight on Obama’s socially liberal policies (repealing the Mexico City Policy, for example) few have paid attention to the likely impact his stimulus, bailout, and economic welfare programs will have. One unremarked and unintended consequence of Barack Obama’s audacious plans for the expansion of government—especially in health care, education, and the environment—is that the nanny state he is seeking to build will likely crowd out religious institutions in America. In other words, if he succeeds in passing his ambitious agenda, the Obama revolution is likely to lead the United States down the secular path already trod by Europe.

To fund his bold efforts to revive the American economy and expand the welfare state, Obama is proposing to spend a staggering $3.6 trillion in the 2010 fiscal year. Obama’s revolutionary agenda would push federal, state, and local spending to approximately 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product, up from about 33 percent in 2000. It would also put the size of government in the United States within reach of Europe, where government spending currently makes up 46 percent of GDP.

Why is this significant for the vitality of religion in America? A recent study of 33 countries around the world by Anthony Gill and Erik Lundsgaarde, political scientists at the University of Washington, indicates that there is an inverse relationship between state welfare spending and religiosity. Specifically, they found that countries with larger welfare states had markedly lower levels of religious attendance, had higher rates of citizens indicating no religious affiliation whatsoever, and their people took less comfort in religion in general. In their words, “Countries with higher levels of per capita welfare have a proclivity for less religious participation and tend to have higher percentages of non-religious individuals.”

Gill and Lundsgaarde show, for instance, that Scandinavian societies such as Sweden and Denmark have some of the largest welfare states in the world as well as some of the lowest levels of religious attendance in the world. By contrast, countries with a history of limited government—from the United States to the Philippines—have markedly higher levels of religiosity. The link between religion and the welfare state remains robust even after Gill and Lundsgaarde control for socioeconomic factors such as urbanization, region, and literacy. The bottom line: as government grows, people’s reliance on God seems to diminish.

How do we account for the inverse relationship between government size and religious vitality? As Gill and Lundsgaarde point out, some individuals have strong spiritual needs that can only be met by religion. This portion of the population remains faithful, come what may.

But other individuals only turn to churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques when their needs for social or material security are not being met by the market or state. In an environment characterized by ordinary levels of social or economic insecurity, many of these individuals will turn to local congregations for social, economic, and emotional support. At times of high insecurity, such as the current recession, religious demand goes even higher. Witness, for instance, press accounts chronicling the recent boom in churchgoing among Americans hit hard by the recession. Of course, many of those who initially turn to the church around the corner for instrumental reasons often end up developing an intrinsic appreciation for the spiritual and moral goods found in their local congregation.

By contrast, the more the state steps in to reduce the economic and social insecurity of its citizens, the less likely fair-weather believers are to darken the door of a church on Sunday. Now, to paraphrase Charles Krauthammer, Obama hopes to expand the size of the welfare state by offering cradle-to-grave health care and cradle-to-cubicle education to Americans. If he gets his way, Americans will not have to trust in God, or their fellow congregants, to support an ailing parent, or to help them figure out how to pay for their daughter’s college tuition. Instead, they can put their faith in Uncle Sam.

To secularists and religious skeptics, this may seem no great loss. Who cares if Americans substitute “In God We Trust” for “In Government We Trust”? But as political scientist Alan Wolfe observed in Whose Keeper?, one of the primary dangers associated with the rise of the nanny state is that “when government assumes moral responsibility for others, people are less likely to do so themselves.” Wolfe noted that large increases in welfare spending in Sweden, Denmark and Norway over the last half century have ended up eroding the moral fabric of families and civic institutions in these societies. Scandinavians have come to depend not on family, civil society, or themselves, but on the government for their basic needs.

The problem with this Scandinavian-style welfare dependency is that many Scandinavians, especially young adults who have grown up taking the welfare state for granted, are markedly less likely to attend to the social, material, and emotional needs of family and friends than earlier generations. As a consequence, social solidarity is down and social pathology—from drinking to crime—is up. In Wolfe’s words, “High tax rates in Scandinavia encourage governmental responsibility for others; they do not, however, necessarily inspire a personal sense of altruism and a feeling of moral unity toward others with whom one’s fate is always linked.” Not surprisingly, cheating on taxes is on the rise in Scandinavian countries, both because the social solidarity undergirding these societies is fraying and because men and women—especially high earners—are recoiling from paying the hefty taxes associated with keeping their nanny states afloat (sound familiar?).

The dangers that Wolfe identifies in societies like Sweden would likely be even more salient in America, which has a much lower level of cultural homogeneity and collectivism than the Scandinavian nations. In the United States, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed, religious institutions have long provided crucial social and moral ballast to the individualistic ethos of our nation. For instance, as political scientist Arthur Brooks pointed out in his recent book, Who Really Cares, religious Americans are significantly more likely to give to charity and to volunteer their time than are secularists. In 2000, he found, for instance, that ninety-one percent of regular churchgoers (those who attend religious services nearly every week or more frequently) gave money to charities, compared to sixty-six percent of secularists (those who attend religious services a couple times a year or not at all); moreover, sixty-seven percent of churchgoers volunteered, compared to forty-four percent of secularists.

This is why, even though Obama’s audacious agenda might provide short-term relief to the economic and social challenges that now beset us, over the long term the Obama revolution is likely to erode first the religious and then the civic and moral fabric of the nation. Undoubtedly, this is not the change religious believers who put their faith in Obama last November are hoping for from this president. But if the European experiment with the welfare state tells us anything, it tells us that this is the change we can expect from a successful Obama revolution.

W. Bradford Wilcox, associate professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, is a fellow of the Witherspoon Institute and sits on the editorial board of Public Discourse. He is currently writing a book for Oxford University Press titled Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, Childbearing, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos.

Anonymous said...

I thought it strange that the CFP would give such favorable coverage to Obama. Joan Grammel is to be commended for speaking out. As are you Paul.


Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm seeing that here in Clinton. Catholics are seemingly unconcerned with abortion as many voted for Obama and his radical abortion agenda. They apparently aren't concerned with his homosexual agenda either. If this isn't apostasy, what is it? The new "spring time" of the Church?

Anonymous said...

Joan also wrote: "When all is said and done and this world is no more, guess who we will all have to answer to." Well put. It isn't called the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath) for no reason. Even the angelstremble at the thought of the Day of Judgment.

Sue Joan said...

Wonderful Wonderful blog... thank you sooo much!!! God bless you. My sentiments EXACTLY!!! Love, SueW

Anonymous said...

This is my response to a woman named Irene who is obviously blind to the reality of what we are facing today and who believes that 1908 society was just as lawless and evil as our society in 2009. It was posted at Our Lady's Tears:

The lawlessness of 1908 was every bit as great as the lawlessness of today? Really? So we had legalized abortion in 1908? Legalized homosexuality? Legalized same-sex "marriage"? Teens (and younger) in record numbers - an epidemic actually - engaging in sex, getting pregnant and sending pornographic pictures of themselves on the internet and cell phones? We had the same crime rate and the same percentage of adults and children using drugs in 1908 as we do today? We had television with 24 hour a day filth being broadcast to our children? We had a contraceptive mentality? The same divorce rate?

If you cannot acknowledge that society has really become worse since the 1960's, you are blind.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thank you Sue W for your kind comment. And welcome to the Blog. God love you!


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