Tag Archives: pro-life

Reflecting on the Last Things – life-choice consequences irreversible after death

We hear a lot these days about various theological speculations contrary to what the Church has always taught regarding the last four things, e.g., the reoccurring theory of Origen that in the end the demons and condemned souls would get a second chance, or that hell is essentially empty. As an exorcist, the stark reality that priests encounter during the solemn rite of exorcism over those who are authentically possessed results in a constant affirmation of what the Church has always taught about these matters.

When we reflect upon the last four things — death, judgment, heaven, and hell — exorcists are in a unique position because they see the actual existential reality of those who have been damned and have been allowed by God to possess people. Aside from the fact that the synod of Constantinople in year 543 rejected the idea of rehabilitating those in hell, the exorcist at times will experience the visible manifestation on the face of the possessed of the characteristics of the demon who is languishing under the reality that his suffering will never end. The demons will admit as much and it causes them tremendous pain and sorrow. The time of merit in which one can gain heaven is over and permanently so, and the affliction that this causes the demons is manifested in a depth of despair that defies description. There is a finality to death in relationship to our eternal destiny which many a saint has exhorted us to reflect upon. The consequences of our choices in this life are irreversible after death, or as it is said, “our actions here redound to eternity.”

In relationship to the particular judgment, under duress, some demons will even admit the specific words that God spoke to them when they were condemned. Most exorcists will note the words God speaks to them at their condemnation are perfectly descriptive of their character. In like manner, for those who are saved, i.e., to those who are faithful, these words of God at the personal judgment bring tremendous joy and consolation.

Hell is a true reality and unfortunately it is not empty. Any priest who has done exorcisms for any length of time has seen preternatural manifestations that are beyond human beings’ capacities, and point to the reality of a condemned spirit who languishes under the weight of his sin and condemnation. At times, these manifestations cause fear in the exorcist; not of the demon, but of the severity of God’s justice. It provides a wonderful point of meditation realizing the depth and the goodness of God’s mercy that He would want us to be under His mercy in this life so that we may be saved and be happy with Him in the next.

Lastly, exorcists at times will observe that demons and those things which are revealed about hell are, in fact, not that interesting in comparison to what is revealed when the demons are forced to admit the attributes and perfections of God, Our Lady, and the saints. It makes one realize how tremendous the joys of heaven are in the contemplation of the perfection of the saints in heaven, and it provides a strong motivation to want to become like them and to enjoy their company and the company of God for the rest of eternity.

CHAD RIPPERGER is a member of the Society of the Most Sorrowful Mother, a semi-contemplative society of priests whose sole apostolate, other than prayer, is exorcism and deliverance. He has published numerous articles and books and runs Sensus Traditionis Press. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Central life issue deserves urgent priority

The U.S. Catholic Bishops state the following in their Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, which is meant to give guidance to dioceses and parishes as they conduct their respect-life activities, not only in Respect Life Month (October) but throughout the year: 

“Among important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Church is concerned, abortion necessarily plays a central role. Abortion, the direct killing of an innocent human being, is always gravely immoral (The Gospel of Life, no. 57); its victims are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family. It is imperative that those who are called to serve the least among us give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice. This focus and the Church’s commitment to a consistent ethic of life complement one another.”

Abortion seems to be about the only issue which, when we say we’re fighting it, we have to justify that we’re also fighting every other evil under the sun.

But there’s a difference between an “ethic,” that is, the moral stance that undergirds our attitude to all the issues, and a commitment to a specific mission. We have to be consistent in our ethic: we care about all human beings in every situation. But we have to be specific in our mission, and the mission of the pro-life movement is to end abortion and restore protection to children in the womb. And nobody needs to apologize for focusing on that.

The bishops make clear why. In the quote above they point out that there are no cases where abortion can be justified. There are, on the other hand, situations in which it can be justified to deny someone entry into our country, or to go to war to defend our country. Not all issues are the same.

Abortion, moreover, attacks the most vulnerable and defenseless among us. Pope Francis made this same point in The Joy of the Gospel, when he wrote:

“Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us.”

From the Gospel accounts of Jesus giving special attention to the most forgotten and least protected in his society, to the Church’s witness to the “preferential option for the poor,” it is clear that we go first to those who are last. And clearly, the “last” and the “least” among us are the children in still in their mother’s womb.

If they are not safe, none of us is safe, because no right is more fundamental than life. Mother Teresa made this point at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. She said, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

 Abortion is not just one among many issues. It strikes at the foundation of every issue, as the U.S. Catholic bishops again explained in their document Living the Gospel of Life. It is, in other words, not just an issue about policy, but about the principle that society must protect the innocent. That is not a principle that can be broken in just one place while preserving it everywhere else. Once you break it in one place – as Roe vs. Wade did for the children in the womb – you completely shatter it in every place. You undermine the very principle by which you are protected.

Indeed, let’s give urgent attention and priority to ending abortion!

FR. FRANK PAVONE is national director for Priests for Life – the largest ministry in the Catholic Church focused exclusively on ending abortion. Learn more at www.ProLifeCentral.com

Apostles of the Culture of Life

Dr. Donald T. DeMarco
TAN Books/St. Benedict Press, 296 pages

Every battle for truth and justice has its heroes. This book presents portraits of some of our heroes in the defense of life – 56 of them, to be precise: eight in each of seven disciplines or realms including philosophy, medicine, even sports and entertainment. Here you’ll find familiar figures such as Mother Teresa, pro-life activist Joseph Scheidler, former National Right to Life president Dr. Jack Willke and Pope St. John Paul II, but also chapters on folks like concentration-camp survivor Wanda Poltawska, didactic painter William Kurelek, media theorist Marshall McLuhan, and NBA Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. It’s an inspiring collection.

 

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Real-life thorns of a pro-life family

How in the world does an active family of eight, with children from teen to toddler, actually practice stillness?

 I’ll tell you.

You shift your thinking. Make it as much of a priority in your family as scheduling band camp and soccer tournaments, piano lessons, and ACT prep courses. Almost every saint heard God in the quiet, not on the loudspeaker at a cheer competition. Participating in extracurriculars or volunteering in your community are all good and often holy endeavors as our children learn important skills such as teamwork, time management, goal setting, problem solving, and conflict resolution. But if we desire peace and purpose, we must make room for God’s love. How can He shine His light in if we insist He fit into our packed schedules?

Everything does have a cost; you just have to decide what currency you’re going to use and how high a price you are willing to pay 

Newsflash: living a life with purpose and intention will not be popular. Friends may beg you to join the crazy fray once again, or they will sigh and wistfully share that they wish they could live your carefree life, but they are just too busy. Don’t get sucked into the lie, y’all. If you are a slave to your life, it’s because you choose to be.

Leave it to St. Francis de Sales, a 16th-century saint, to have advice applicable five centuries later: 

Don’t sow your desires in someone else’s garden; just cultivate your own as best you can; don’t long to be other than what you are, but desire to be thoroughly what you are. Direct your thoughts to being very good at that and to bearing the crosses, little or great, that you will find there. Believe me, this is the most important and least understood point to the spiritual life. We all love according to what is our taste; few people like what is according to their duty or to God’s liking. What is the use of building castles in Spain when we have to live in France?

Or, as we say in Texas, don’t hang your wash on someone else’s line. 

Our family learned from our mistakes of overdoing life. We learned that the view from the land of busy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, every once in a while we’re tempted to jump back in that lane for a fleeting second. Then we pause, look heavenward, and do a family check. Is this serving God, or it is serving our egos? Are we doing this in the name of “preparing our kids for college applications,” or are our motives honest and true?

Excerpt used with permission from Live Big, Love Bigger: Getting Real with BBQ, Sweet Tea, and a Whole Lotta Jesus, by Kathryn Whitaker (Ave Maria Press, 2019). From chapter entitled “And other lies we tell ourselves,” pp. 119-121. www.avemariapress.com 

KATHRYN WHITAKER is a Legate in the Austin Chapter, Catholic author, blogger, speaker, and freelance graphic designer. A sixth-generation Texan, she was raised an evangelical Protestant, converting to Catholicism on the eve of her wedding. She has appeared in USA Today, Iowa Catholic Radio, The Son Rise Morning Show, Relevant Radio, and is a regular guest on The Jennifer Fulwiler Showon SiriusXM. Kathryn and her husband, Scott, live with their family in Austin, Texas. teamwhitaker.org

Pro-life legal effort banishing false abortion mantra

The Supreme Court’s infamous decision in Roe v. Wade (1973) forged a powerful legal weapon for the abortion industry. By fabricating a new constitutional right, the Court allowed pro-abortion activists to invalidate state laws without the political cost of building legislative coalitions. Fighting under the banner of autonomy, these activists have advanced abortion rights in the courts, costing the lives of many unborn victims.

President Trump’s conservative judicial appointments may have boosted efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade and its progeny, bringing the quest to protect the unborn back into the political realm. But in the meantime, the quest to protect the unborn continues in other fronts. With both legal and spiritual weapons in the armory, faithful citizens must work together to achieve this pro-life mission.

Abortion rights have not yet displaced First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly, and religion, which have a much deeper legal provenance. These rights can shield pro-life workers who are exposing the evil residing within the abortion establishment, sharing the truth about the wonders of human development, and offering compassionate alternatives to women contemplating abortion.

 David Daleiden, Lila Rose, Abby Johnson, and other committed truth-tellers have publicly exposed the abortion industry’s crass commercialism, its harm to women and their children, and its covert abuse of racial minorities. Their important work has demolished false narratives that have been used to support abortion: instead of removing a mass of tissue, abortion kills a child with a beating heart and a body like ours; instead of expressing freedom, abortion inflicts death and pain; instead of helping women, abortion is about making money from their distress. As these truths are being shared, hearts and minds are changing. 

Others work quietly in pro-life pregnancy centers and serve as sidewalk counselors, offering prayers and assistance to mothers contemplating abortion. By providing a real choice to women – life for their child and freedom from the lifelong guilt delivered by abortion – their humble witness adds to the chorus of voices declaring that life is a gift from God that is worth protecting. Lives are being saved.

These efforts threaten the business of abortion. The abortion industry can and does fight back very hard, using large law firms to pursue its interests. It can afford the fight, as its coffers are filled by revenues from abortion procedures, charitable contributions from the rich and famous, and government-supplied taxpayer dollars. Proabortion state and local governments often provide additional aid. For example, California’s Attorney General filed criminal charges against David Daleiden which threaten prison time and ruinous fines in response to his undercover work exposing the abortion industry’s role in trafficking in baby body parts. Sidewalk counselors have faced similar threats from state and municipal officials who are intent on stopping them from offering life-affirming alternatives to abortion-bound women.

Good legal strategies are available to resist the abortion industry’s attacks in the courts, but quality representation and a fair defense is costly. Public-interest law firms play an important role here, as their attorneys specialize in protecting those who are carrying out the pro-life mission, deflecting the attacks of the pro-abortion establishment, and cutting away barriers that prevent the pro-life truth from advancing. They also provide important support for efforts to change laws that will advance protections for the unborn.

The abortion industry has many material advantages, including money, political power, and media support. But these advantages crumble when faithful citizens come together to dedicate their prayers, their time, and their financial resources to support the pro-life mission. Not all of us may be called to serve on the front lines of this conflict, but we can all pray and stand in solidarity by supporting others who are working tirelessly to protect the unborn.

EDWARD A. MORSE is a professor of law at Creighton University School of Law in Omaha, Nebraska, and a volunteer attorney and member of the board of directors of the Thomas More Society (ThomasMoreSociety.org), a national public interest law firm based on Chicago and Omaha devoted to restoring respect in law for life, the family, and religious liberty

Current pro-life battle has abortion advocates in retreat

In 2019, the pro-life movement has never been closer to ending the injustice of Roe v. Wade and restoring life in America after nearly half a century of turmoil.

Pro-life optimism is at an all-time high in state legislatures, where lawmakers have introduced more than 375 pro-life bills this year alone – strong bills that protect unborn children when they can feel pain, when their heartbeat can be detected, or throughout pregnancy, as well as stopping discriminatory race, sex-selection, and Down syndrome abortions.

None of this is an accident. They’ve been emboldened to act on their constituents’ will like never before under President Trump, who has led as the most pro-life president in history and is rapidly transforming the courts to return legislative power to the American people. 

Neither are the extreme attempts to expand abortion-on-demand through birth, and even infanticide, in New York, Virginia, Illinois, and other states – but the Lord is using this monstrous evil for good.

When New York’s Governor Cuomo lit up the World Trade Center in pink, in obscene celebration of abortion on demand, in flagrant defiance of his Catholic upbringing, he set off a chain reaction. 

Pro-abortion overreach has only increased pro-life resolve and, ironically, hastened the day of reckoning for Roe by exposing the full horror of the abortion agenda

Abortion advocates are in retreat. They have expanded abortion in a small handful of liberal strongholds, where even Democrats and pro-choicers disagree with them. Missouri, Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, Utah, Louisiana, and others show that momentum favors the pro-life cause.

That doesn’t mean the battle is over or that victory is inevitable.

Every leading Democratic presidential candidate has embraced extremism – including several Catholics, an appalling scandal. Every U.S. senator running has refused to protect babies who survive abortions. They all agree that the Hyde Amendment, the longstanding policy that prevents forced taxpayer funding of abortion on demand and has saved more than two million lives, must go. Even “moderate” Joe Biden now begrudges fellow Catholics that modest concession to their conscience, and Kirsten Gillibrand likens pro-lifers to racists and anti-Semites. 

Meanwhile in Congress, Nancy Pelosi chalks up her caucus’s inability to “get rid of ” Hyde and other pro-life policies not to moral qualms, or concern for the children who would perish, or even respect for the taxpayers, but to “the current occupant of the White House and some in the United States Senate.”

The stakes of this election are clear. Part of America that has been sitting on the sidelines is awakening to the human cost of failing to engage. That is why Susan B. Anthony List is doubling its budget this cycle to replicate its success at the federal level in priority states, working with local allies to pass aggressive pro-life legislation, in addition to educating millions of voters about the need to defeat extremists and elect pro-life leaders.

Pro-life Catholics played a decisive role in the last presidential election. As politicians misrepresent the faith, this is an excellent time to bookmark The Participation of Catholics in Political Life and recall Pope St. John Paul II’s words in it, urging the laity “never to relinquish” their right as citizens to participate fully in the democratic process. No one else, not even a bishop, can fulfill the role given to each layperson – and, like the Apostles sharing the Gospel, it begins with engaging those closest to us: family, friends, and neighbors. Extrapolate to some 50 million Catholic adults, and even a small shift could mean saving countless girls and boys loved by God and intended for this world.

MARJORIE DANNENFELSER is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List’s mission is to end abortion by electing leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders. She is also a Legate of the Northern Virginia Chapter

Abortion clinic worker’s unplanned wakeup led to conversion

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood because I believed the lie that they wanted to reduce the number of abortions and help women. It wasn’t until I had spent eight years at Planned Parenthood that the scales dropped from my eyes. Abortion was profitable and I was right in the middle of raking in that money for Planned Parenthood.

At my clinic in Bryan, Texas, surgical abortions cost $450 up to over $800 and RU-486 abortions were $450. We did surgical abortions once a week and dispensed the abortion pill on certain days. But by the time I left, we were selling RU-486 daily to increase profits.

Unfortunately, my clinic also participated in the sale of fetal tissue. We were paid about $200 per specimen by Amphioxus Cell Technologies, a company no longer in business. At the time, the Houston facility had an abortion quota of 75 abortions per day and, while not all women consented to having the remains of their baby used for research, and while not all fetal tissue was sellable, this practice brought in millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood. 

When then-Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress in 2015 about their illegal selling of fetal tissue, one of her statements went largely unnoticed. She revealed that 86 percent of her nonprofit’s revenue came from abortion. 

Among other things, Planned Parenthood’s annual reports detail how many abortions they do every year and their revenue. The year after Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress, Planned Parenthood reported a revenue of $1.296 billion, which included over $500 million in taxpayer dollars. That year, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions.

 In 2017-2018, abortions increased to 332,757 and revenue jumped to $1.665 billion, including nearly $564 million from taxpayers. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry makes millions of dollars every year from tearing apart babies in the womb and taxpayers subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country.

How did I not understand the abortion business model throughout my years at Planned Parenthood? Maybe I didn’t want to see it. Maybe I didn’t want to face the fact that my salary, vacation days, 401K, and health insurance were being paid for by abortion.

My conscience was pricked throughout my time at Planned Parenthood but I quieted that voice until one day, as I watched a baby fight for its life against the abortion instruments on an ultrasound screen, my heart was immediately changed and I saw the truth of abortion. What I saw on that screen, while my own hand held the probe so the abortionist could see what he was doing inside the womb of that woman, changed everything.

I woke up. I could no longer be a part of abortion and selling the dismemberment of children to women as a solution to all their problems. My story is being told in the new film, Unplanned, in theaters now. I urge you to see it. No one will be able to walk away and say they didn’t know. 

Abortion is immensely profitable and preys upon women who are being told they need it in order to live their best life. We need to come to these women from a place of love and join together to make abortion unthinkable, to relegate the business of abortion to history books where future generations will learn about the atrocities in the womb and how it was us who stood in the gap between good and evil and put an end to the business of abortion.

ABBY JOHNSON is founder and director of And Then There Were None, which helps abortion workers leave the industry. She is the author of Unplanned and The Walls are Talking. Unplanned, a movie about her conversion, was released in theaters March 29, 2019.

WHAT TO SEE: View from the fence

Unplanned
Ashley Bratcher, Brooks Ryan
Run time: 106 min
Rated R

Abby Johnson went from volunteer escort to clinic director during her meteoric rise through the Planned Parenthood hierarchy. She even had a stint as a POC (“Products of Conception”) technician, responsible for reassembling body parts of aborted fetuses to ensure the womb had been emptied. But it was only after she assisted in an ultrasound-guided abortion for the first time that she was struck with the undeniable reality that abortion kills children.

Unplanned, just released nationwide March 29, is her story. It’s a powerful drama, and not just for its few particularly intense scenes. For many adult viewers, a Kleenex alert is in order

“My story is not a comfortable one to read… but honest and true,” writes Johnson, now an ardent pro-life activist, in her book of the same title. While retrospectively admitting her values and actions were inconsistent during her naïve years with Planned Parenthood, she also holds she was driven by true compassion for women.

But Johnson (Ashley Bratcher) gradually finds that the organization’s stated objective to “make abortions rare” doesn’t jibe with its relentless drive to “sell” abortions, Planned Parenthood’s bread and butter.

In the movie, pro-life advocates keep prayerful vigil at the fence, occasionally engaging clinic workers and clients in respectful dialogue.

Abby’s adoring husband (Brooks Ryan) and parents disapprove of her work but lovingly employ gentle reasoning.

Unplanned acknowledges there are pro-life extremists, and most clinic workers appear as genuinely nice people. This isn’t a propaganda piece; it doesn’t have to be. Presenting the simple facts from both sides of the fence already provides testimony sufficient for sparking serious reflection on what authentic respect for human life really means.

Unplanned received an “R” rating for “some disturbing/ bloody images” despite having no profanity, nudity, sex, or violence. The film reveals to viewers “exactly what abortion is — and abortion is disturbing. It’s violent,” said Abby Johnson in response. “No one will walk away from seeing this movie and say ‘I didn’t know.’”

Everyone needs to know. Your children need to know. Leave the pre-adolescents at home, but take your teens. Plan to see Unplanned.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

 

Assisted suicide – taking stock of where we are

As the push to legalize assisted suicide— euphemistically termed “medical aid in dying”— continues across the United States, it is helpful to step back periodically and reassess where we are. As of January 2019, seven jurisdictions have legalized assisted suicide: Hawaii (2018), the District of Columbia (2017), Colorado (2016), California (2015), Vermont (2013), Washington state (2008), and Oregon (1994). Montana (2009) has not legalized assisted suicide legislatively, but it is permitted through a state supreme court ruling in Baxter v. Montana.  

While much of the media focus is on jurisdictions that have legalized assisted suicide, it is important to recognize the many that have not. In 2018 alone, assisted suicide bills were proposed in Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin. None were signed into law. In fact, the Patient’s Rights Council reports that since 1994, more than 240 legislative proposals to legalize assisted suicide have been introduced, and subsequently turned down, in 38 states.

So where are the battlegrounds moving forward? The biggest prize is likely New Jersey. First introduced in 2012, the “Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act” (A-1504) was twice passed by the state Assembly but never made it out of the Senate, likely because then-Republican Governor Chris Christie had vowed to veto it. Now with Democrat Phil Murphy in the governor’s office, assisted suicide supporters believe they can get the bill passed and signed into law. Interestingly, Governor Murphy has not indicated whether he would sign the measure if it comes to his desk, but Compassion and Choices has a $1 million digital advertising campaign aimed at passage. Action on the bill is expected in early 2019.

Another battleground state is New Mexico, where the “End of Life Options Act” (HB-90/SB-153) has been introduced in the state legislature. If the bill becomes law, assisted suicide will no longer be considered a crime under New Mexico state law; instead, it will become “medical treatment.” The bill will also allow practitioners (expanded to include physician assistants and nurse practitioners) to make determinations of “eligibility” for assisted suicide through tele-medicine, without ever seeing or examining the patient in person. Finally, the bill will change the time frame of terminal illness. Generally, the term refers to an incurable or irreversible illness for which death is expected within six months. The “new” definition changes this time frame and refers to an illness where death will result “within the foreseeable future.” Contrary to some media reports, the proposed bill does not allow non-residents to travel to New Mexico to commit suicide. 

Other states that are expected to take up assisted suicide legislation in 2019 include Nevada, Virginia, and Delaware. In Nevada, an assisted suicide bill (SB-261) passed the state Senate in 2017 but died in the Health and Human Services Committee of the state Assembly. Supporters have vowed to reintroduce it in the 2019 legislative term. In Virginia, the “Death with Dignity Act” (HB-2713) was introduced on January 14, 2019. This is the first time the state will consider an assisted suicide bill. In Delaware, assisted suicide bills were introduced in the 2015-16 and 2017-18 legislative sessions, but never advanced to full votes. The legislator who sponsored the two bills has stated he will reintroduce the measure in this legislative session. Opponents are particularly concerned with the new Delaware bill because it specifically links assisted suicide to “additional palliative care options” for terminally ill patients.

Vigilance, prayer, and engaged effort are needed.

JOZEF ZALOT, PH.D., is a staff ethicist with the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. He earned his Ph.D. at Marquette University, and has worked in Catholic higher education and health care.

Black and Pro-Life in America: The Incarceration and Exoneration of Walter B. Hoye

Robert W. Artigo
Ignatius Press, 253 pages

 

Baptist minister Walter Hoye, an African American, was arrested in 2009 and spent time in a prison in Oakland, Calif. His crime: simply standing outside an abortion clinic holding a sign that said “God loves you and your baby. Let us help you.” This is the story of a brave but humble pro-life warrior who was rejected by many other African Americans for his stance opposing abortion, but held firm in his convictions. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King Jr., wrote the Foreword for this inspiring account of Hoye’s arrest, trial, and testimony of truth.

 

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