Tag Archives: Joseph Pearce

Systematically exterminating the disabled

Back in the dark days of the 1930s and 1940s an evil regime, inspired by the relativist ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche, sought to breed a master race, practicing eugenics to eliminate those it considered subhuman (untermenschen), including the weak and the disabled. Today, many countries have resurrected the dark days of the past, using eugenics to exterminate “unfit” human beings in the womb.

Joseph Pearce

In Iceland, according to a report on CBS in August, a final solution to the problem of children with Down Syndrome has been found. In that country, which has clearly slipped back into the dark ages of eugenic barbarism, all children with Downs are systematically exterminated in the womb. About 85 percent of expectant mothers undergo prenatal testing, and close to 100 percent of those women choose to abort if their child is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Only two children with Down Syndrome are born in Iceland each year. What are we to make of a culture in which almost every mother chooses to kill her own baby if the child in the womb is disabled?

Although Iceland might be the worst, things aren’t much better elsewhere. In Europe as a whole, 92% of mothers choose to “terminate” their child with Down Syndrome, while in the United Kingdom the figure is 90%. Things are marginally better in the United States where more than twothirds of women choose to give their child death instead of life, though some studies indicate that as many as 90% of American women make this dark choice.

In France, a pro-life video was banned by the government because it shows children and adults with Down Syndrome speaking cheerfully of the happy lives they’re living. The sight of smiling children was deemed offensive because it might “disturb the conscience” of those who chose to exterminate their own child with Downs. Again, what are we to make of a culture in which the government encourages women to kill their own “unfit” children but won’t allow anything to “disturb their consciences”?

In truth, and now it’s confession time, this whole issue is very close to home for me and my family because our own son, Leo, has Down Syndrome. He is the happiest and most carefree member of the family – and a veritable joy at the very heart of our home. I have many photographs of him smiling sweetly, which I would presumably be banned from publishing in France. He is happy and we are happy because we have chosen to love him and accept him. He is a gift, not in any trite sense of the word, but in the real sense that we have been given something very special which has changed all our lives for the better.

Leo is a pearl of great price because he is a pearl of wisdom, not his own wisdom, which his disability prevents him from having, but in the wisdom that he has bestowed upon us by being who he is.

I am reminded of the words of someone who told me that most of us are here to learn but some of us are here to teach. Those with Down Syndrome are here to teach. We have learned so much from our son about the meaning of love, and the blessings that come from the sacrifices that love demands. Without him we would be so much the poorer because we would not have the riches of wisdom that he has given us.

I thank God for the gift of our son, Leo Patrick Pearce, a gift that my wife and I don’t deserve. Domine, non sum dignus . Lord, I am not worthy that you should have bestowed such a wonderful gift on me, a sinner. Might I praise you every day for your goodness to me, my wife and our daughter in giving us such a blessing.

JOSEPH PEARCE is senior editor at the Augustine Institute and editor of the St. Austin Review. His latest book is Heroes of the Catholic Reformation (Our Sunday Visitor).

Heroes of the Catholic Reformation: Saints Who Renewed the Church

Joseph Pearce 
Our Sunday Visitor, 176 pages

Noted biographer Joseph Pearce provides a historically rich and inspiring look at the saints who renewed the Church in the face of the Protestant ruptures and persecution in England and Europe, as well as those who reformed the Church from within. They include saints and martyrs such as John Fisher and Thomas More, Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, and Edmund Campion and Robert Southwell. It’s a great read for this anniversary year marking the Protestant Reformation.

Given our own uncertain times and the threats against religious liberty, this book should be required reading.

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Monaghan: A Life

Joseph Pearce
Tan Books, 2016
Hardcover, 280 pages $27.95

Pearce, the preeminent Catholic biographer of our time, traces Monaghan’s life from his humble beginnings. He tells Monaghan’s story in such a fashion that despite missteps along the way, the subject is a man whose greatest desire is to be among the saints in heaven at the end of his earthly pilgrimage.

Monaghan’s life is an inspiring story of success in the face of what, for many, may have been insurmountable odds. Yet he was determined to succeed when it would have been easy to quit, and he rediscovered a childhood faith that changed his life and the lives of many others.

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Turning a new page

Joseph Pearce is the director of the Aquinas Center for Faith and Culture at Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn. An accomplished Catholic writer, Pearce has written several books, including biographies on J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton. A native of England who was involved in extremist politics as a young man, Pearce credits Chesterton’s writings for his conversion to the Catholic faith. Pearce is currently writing a biography on Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, Ave Maria University and Legatus. Pearce spoke with Legatus magazine staff writer Brian Fraga.

Joseph Pearce

Joseph Pearce

How is your biography on Tom Monaghan coming?

I’m halfway through the writing. I expect to have it finished by the end of this year and hopefully published by sometime next year. I’ve known Tom on one level for many years, but now I’m working on a much deeper level. I have been spending an awful lot of time with him, not just interviewing him personally, but looking at old newspaper copies, unpublished manuscripts, all sorts of things about Tom’s life from the beginning until today.

What have you been learning about him?

People know the facts of Tom’s life, but in many ways the truth is something that puts flesh on those bones. What I want to do is bring out the humanity of Tom — from his childhood, where he loses his father at a young age, and the years in the orphanage, the struggles, the poverty he suffered as a young man, the betrayal of trust with people when he was young, and how he never allowed that to harden his heart. Basically what we see is a journey of a soul, a soul that is growing in wisdom and understanding and love. And of course we have this conversion experience. Tom was a lifelong Catholic, but he read C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity in the late 1980s, and that had a profound impact on his life.

What role did Chesterton’s writing play in your conversion?

One thing I do have in common with Tom is that our lives have been changed radically by reading these great Christian evangelists. With me, reading Chesterton initially opened my eyes to a sense of wonder, to a sense of gratitude to the sheer impossibility and beauty of the material cosmos in which we find ourselves.

How can literature play a role in the conversion of individuals and culture?

The power of story really can change lives, and change hearts and change minds, and that’s what literature does. Literature is using the power of story to open our eyes to the truths of the Gospel — at least that’s what it should do. The great works of Western civilization, certainly right up until the 20th century for the most part, were expressions of the goodness, truth and beauty of God.

How did you discover your talent for writing?

I’m reminded of the Gospel parable by Christ of the talents. There are many things I’m very bad at, but thanks be to God, He gave me the talent of writing. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, going back to my childhood. Even when I was in my bad place, I was editing magazines. I was using my writing — those talents God gave me — for evil and pernicious uses. But I think part of my own personal mission in life now is to undo the damage I did in my early life with the good that hopefully I’ve been doing now to evangelize the culture.

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Through Shakespeare’s Eyes

Pearce digs into plays first performed during England’s persecution of Catholics . . .

pearceThrough Shakespeare’s Eyes
Ignatius Press, 2010. 225 pages. $19.95 hardcover.

Fulfilling the promise he made in his previous book, The Quest for Shakespeare, Pearce analyzes three of Shakespeare’s plays in order to uncover the Bard’s Catholic beliefs. Here the author digs into the plays, which were written and first performed during the English crown’s persecution of Catholics. English history and literature were taught for generations through the prism of English Protestantism. Though the case for Shakespeare’s Catholicism has been studied before, Pearce analyzes the Bard’s genius in a fresh and unique way.

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