Skip to comments.Alice von Hildebrand: Plea to confused Catholics
Posted on 09/25/2012 6:40:10 AM PDT by markomalley
Virgil was right: there are things that call for tears (sunt lacrimae rerum). This famous quote recently came to my mind when watching Raymond Arroyos program The World Over.
He was interviewing Dr. Stephen Schneck, an associate professor at Catholic University of America and co-chair of Catholics for Obama. The latter told the hearers that he is a sincere and committed Catholic. This is precisely why his decision to vote for Obama --dubbed the most pro-abortion president we have ever had-- left me dumbfounded.
How is it possible that a son of the Church --founded by Someone who declared that He was the Truth, the Way, and the Life-- can justify his choice?
personally rejects abortion, gay marriages, embryonic stem cells research (all three strongly endorsed by our present president), and yet is trying to convince us that to vote for him can be justified on moral grounds.
What are his arguments and do they have any validity? The key one is that, according to him, Romney intends to make deep cuts in the Medicaid budget, and that this decision will inevitably lead to a notable increase in the number of abortions. Therefore to give ones vote to Obama will in fact benefit the pro life cause! This is a type of twisted logic that only intellectuals can concoct. It would be difficult to convince a peasant that a purely abstract projection (cuts in Medicaid will lead to more abortions) justifies voting for someone who is pro-choice, endorses not only late term abortion, but also the murder of those little ones who survived this scientific torture. This is typical intellectual prestidigitation, a sleight of hand of such cleverness that it justifies the words of St. Peter Damian: the Devil was the first grammarian: he taught us to decline god in the plural . By endorsing Obama, Professor Schneck inevitably gives his placet to same sex marriage (which he rejects), assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research. Indeed, evil engenders evil.
That Romney opposes these grave moral aberrations, does not seem to have any weight in Professor Schnecks mind. Am I wrong in suggesting that when St. Paul writes that there are things that should not even be mentioned among Christians, he might had had same sex marriage in mind, an inevitable consequence of the endorsement of homosexuality so severely condemned by Plato --a pagan-- as being not only against nature, but as being a moral disease of such gravity that it inevitably leads to the downfall of any society. History teaches us a lesson: the great nations of the world now extinct, were victims of the immorality of their customs. Their problem was not economic; it was moral, and inevitably, as a punishment, it affected the economy.
Abortion, i.e. murder of innocent human beings, is intrinsically evil at all time, in all places, under all circumstances. The same applies to embryonic stem cell research; a human being is a human being from the very moment of conception; if it became one only when fully developed, it would be a typical case of magic: namely a change of nature, as we read in fairy tales. The Devil who is a master at deceit, covers the horror of this crime by inserting the term scientific research, and the word scientific fills with awe those who believe in progress.
May I suggest that if abortions were no longer paid by other peoples taxes (forced to do), quite a few people would think twice before having one. Money matters in our society, and if this barbarous practice was not covered by insurances, it is likely that fewer would be performed, and that women would consider carrying the baby to term and give it up for adoption. We know that there is such a high demand for babies that many are those who have to turn to foreign countries to find one.
Upon hearing Professor Schnecks words, I was not only grieved: I was stunned. Unwittingly, he assumes that the end justifies the means: that to vote for a pro abortion president, by some mysterious twist, will in the long run, protect life.
Like all decadent societies, we have lost sight of the crucial importance of hierarchy in human life. We have in mind not only the ontological hierarchy placing the Creator above creatures, angels above men (except for the Blessed one among women), man over animals (challenged by Peter Singer: a healthy whale ranks higher than a crippled baby), but also of the epistemological hierarchy of revealed truth above all other truths, of veritates aeternae over empirical truths, and last but not least, of the solemn command to abstain from committing murder. This was formulated by St. Augustine. He tells us that mans first duty is to abstain from moral evil (I.e. sin); the second is to do as much good as possible. By sin, we mean an offense of God --the infinitely Holy one-- which also stains the soul of the sinner, endangering his eternal welfare, and in the majority of cases harms his neighbors.
It is worth mentioning that Platos admirable ethics, clearly endorsing the natural moral law, is limited because having no access to revelation, this noble thinker had no clear conception of Gods nature. Therefore he could not perceive that moral evil is an offense against God, even though he came close to it when he wrote that, he who honors his mother pleases the gods. His ethics is open to the message of New Testament; therefore he had been called: a preparer of the way to Christ, something that cannot be said of Aristotle for the plain reason that the latter having denied any possible relationship between God and man, eliminated the notion of sin from his philosophical horizon.
Mans second obligation is to do as much good as possible. This calls clarification. For good is so rich in meaning and it inevitably opens the door to equivocations. It can clearly refer to pleasure, or to what is beneficial to man, or to moral qualities. Whereas it is indeed a duty to try to benefit mankind by spreading moral values (mainly by practicing them ourselves), and beneficial goods, there is no moral obligation to intensify pleasure either for oneself or for others. It may be laudable, but not obligatory. This is one of the very many pitiful equivocations in Jeremiah Benthams so called Ethics: advocating as our duty to produce the greatest possible good for the largest possible number of people. Which good?
In our society, educated by the news media, a high percentage of people assume erroneously that our concern for social issues should be given pride of place. They forget that the first commandment is to Love the Lord our God. This is our very first obligation. It is meaningful that several of the ten commandments are negative: thou shalt not. It clearly reminds us that being creatures endowed with free will, we are granted this privilege to freely obey the divine law. It is fashionable to interpret this as a negative attitude and to claim that positive ethics --the ethics commanding us to do good-- should be our primary obligation. As mentioned above, this claim is dangerously misleading. This type of positive ethics is favored today. Modern man is sick of prohibitions and commands. He has come of age (typical claim of all adolescents) and should himself decide what his priorities are.
That to do good sounds so attractive to modern ears explains why so many Catholics are tempted to endorse the agenda of a president who claims to be socially minded. We live in a society of doers who value accomplishments and place efficiency above holiness.
It is noteworthy that a Joseph II, emperor of Austria in the 18th century closed numerous Carthusian monasteries, while respecting active religious organizations. The latter achieved something. The others did not benefit society. That the prayers and sacrifices of these holy monks were in fact the spiritual foundation of charitable works, is something that he did not and could not be perceived by a ruler fed on the philosophy of Voltaire, Rousseau and their ilk.
Cavour --as anti clerical as he was-- was favorable to the work of Don Bosco: his taming of wild street boys in Turin, clearly benefited the State. But contemplative orders had no right to exist in this upcoming brave new world. The same philosophy motivated Clemenceau in France in the 20th century.
This leads me back to my topic: how can devout Catholics favor a man who has shown total disregard for fundamental moral commandments: thou shalt not murder, because he gives full priority to social improvements?
In this context, it is worth mentioning that when we abstain from committing evil acts, such as murdering, perverse sexual practices, to mention only two, we have no reason whatever to feel good about ourselves. We have just done our duty. (We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty. Luke 17:10) Never has a man received an award for paying his debts, for telling his truth, for being faithful to his wife: such a man has only done what he ought to have done.
But throughout the year, people rightly receive awards for having founded a school, or a hospital, or given huge sums to worthy causes. Inevitably such benefactors, feel good about themselves, this is my work, and indeed, the work deserves praise.
St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the lights of the 19th century, did not do anything spectacular. Shortly before her death, a sister was concerned about what could possibly be praised when she died: she had done nothing special. Indeed, that was true, but she did what she ought to do with such a love that in Gods eyes, it gained eternal value,
It is tempting to accuse me of having no understanding for the greatness and nobility of social work. It is the glory of the Catholic Church that from the very beginning she has founded hospitals, schools, and tried in every possible way to ease the burdens of suffering humanity. But this admirable mission was in fact based on a clear awareness of the hierarchy of our moral obligations. Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all the rest will be added unto. To adore and love God is our primary duty, and it is also mans glory. From this it follows that we should obey His commandments, a primary one of which; Thou shalt not murder. Early in Genesis, this abominable crime was condemned.
Those who do not perceive this luminous truth suffer from a grave disease: moral blindness. Whereas blind people know that they are blind, the tragic fate of morally blind people is that they do not realize that they are gravely ill.
It is my wish and hope that when going to the polls in November, all men of good will will say a short prayer echoing the one of the blind man in Jericho. Christ said to him: what do you want. Lord, that I may see. His request was granted.
Moreover, it is fashionable to claim that in acting, our key concern should be focused on the consequences of our act. Will it benefit society? Once again, the ambiguity is obvious: benefit in what sense? Morally? Humanly? Financially? Should we be concerned about immediate benefits, or those in the long run? If our key moral concern should be the consequences of our action, it would be impossible for man ever to make any valid decision because he can never foretell what fruits his action will bring.
Let us imagine the following scenario; a hundred years ago, a man saved a teenager who has fallen in a river, and was close to drowning. Had he known (an impossibility) that the youngster was Adolf Hitler, should he have refused his help? The call of the hour was to save a human life. The future is in Gods hands.
Ethics is the most existential branch of philosophy. It plays a key role in our daily life. There is one thing that all men can and should share: the natural law (not confusing it with the laws of nature such as gravity, which applies to all creatures). I am referring to a law inscribed in every human heart the validity of which is independent of time, place, and circumstances. Moral evil injects poison in the society in which we live, because our acts have direct or indirect consequences on others. To take the life of an innocent defenseless person , is a crime that cries to heaven. Anyone who denies this luminous ethical truth suffers from a terrible sickness: moral blindness. Whereas a blind man knows he is blind, many are those who are morally blind --a much graver disease--and are totally unaware of it. They do not even question the validity of their moral vision.
Moral evil is the cancer of any society and history teaches us that all great nations that have disappeared from the face of the earth, were morally decadent. Money never has and never will save a nation.
My husband gave hundred of talks in seventeen countries in four languages. A couple of years before his death, he delivered his very last talk in Orange, California. It was after Roe and Wade (which made him exclaim that The 'defeated' Hitler won the war for the Nazi poison (ruthless disrespect for the dignity of human life) had penetrated into the soul of the conqueror. This justifies the words of Plato: many a victory has been and will be suicidal to the victor (Laws, 19)
Dietrich von Hildebrands very last words uttered with a trembling voice were; a country that legalizes murder is doomed. That should give us food for thought. To vote for a President who fully endorses abortion, is to vote for death.
Mans second duty is to do as much good as possible. Modern man is psychologically tempted to give priority to "good and noble causes" over our strict duty to abstain from moral evil. The reason is obvious: by not committing murder, we are just doing our "duty" (see Luke 17:10). We do not deserve praise. How ludicrous it would be if a man bragged that he has not murdered his parents. How grotesque would it be to give an award to someone because he has never raped a woman or a child. Who deserves praise for doing what he ought to do? Whereas our concern about the wide range of "social issues" strikes us as noble and generous deeds that deserve to be commended and honored. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
Indeed, it is our strict moral duty to care about our neighbor's needs, but this concern can never justify our breaking a moral law with an absolute veto. There is no conceivable moral justification for endorsing Obamas position.
Let me repeat: there is a hierarchy of truths, and there is a hierarchy of moral obligations. All those who intend to vote for a president who clearly justifies not only abortion, but homo sexuality, same sex marriages and self assisted suicide in the name of social concerns are gravely sinning against this hierarchy established by God Himself. We should be socially concerned, but such concerns are legitimate only to the extend that they respect the natural law. Moreover, they should never allow us to violate a moral law with an absolute veto. I am not allowed to kill one person in order to save another persons life.
Man is a creature: his primary duty is to obey. The great confusion prevalent today is that many confused people justify an intrinsically evil act, because they calculate (consequentialism) that "in the long run", it will bring a decrease of evil and therefore a greater good.
This reasoning is the Devils logic, and he can play the clever logician when convenient.
On the other hand, one could also claim that if abortion were not free (a gift from the State paid by others taxes whether they want to or not), many of them would not be performed. If it had to be paid for, one would be surprised how many women would hesitate to have one. Money matters in our society. If walkers were not paid for, it might be that some persons would courageously train themselves to walk with a cane. The great danger of great government is that everyone is promised a free wheel chair, without paying for it, and thereby are discouraged from going to therapy and re-conquer their mobility. I heard about an acrobat who after a terrible accident lost his leg, and re-learned to do tight tope walking with an artificial leg. He wanted to. Moreover big government means a monstrous bureaucracy, and inevitably opens the door far and wide to fraud. A friend of mine who worked for the government his whole life long, told me that in government offices, there is nothing which is not stolen unless it is solidly nailed down. Some of us might hesitate to rob a neighbor. Who cares to satisfy ones needs at the expense of an impersonal monster: the state. Tax payers will fill the deficit.
After original sin, men were condemned to earn their bread with the sweat of their brow. Most of them have no objection to working, but they do not like the sweat, that is the pain, the effort. How tempting to vote for a President who provides for ones needs without having to sweat to enjoy them. This is the danger menacing us today. People should not be encouraged, nay tempted to depend on the impersonal state -- a Leviathan which imprisons his victims into his treacherous net and will inevitably rob them of their freedom.
There are, of course, cases in which it is fully legitimate to ask and to get help and support. But we should not forget that the most generous charities are in the hands of individuals animated by love of neighbor. It is well known that from the beginning of Christianity, innumerable religious orders have been founded to take care of the poor, the sick, the afflicted. I am far from denying that the State has no social responsibility, but there is an abyss between personal care or bureaucratic care. Alas, in our society, social help has now becomes a right and who is grateful for what we have a right to possess?
A French proverb says he who wants to kill his dog, will accuse him of having the plague. It is easy enough to view an innocent baby as an intruder, an unwanted guest, threatening ones career or promotion, and thereby justify extinguishing the life of a human person made to Gods image and likeness. No doubt, this approach to pregnancy leads to innumerable abortions.
Let us recall the grief of Jewish women like Rachel, like Hannah, like Elizabeth because of their infertility. How they suffered; how they prayed and their prayers were heard. Today a baby is viewed as a tumor, a sickness that calls for urgent medical intervention.
How deeply regrettable to witness that Catholic education since Vatican II has been so deplorable that many good Catholics are plainly ignorant not only of their faith, but also of the basic tenets of the natural law that they share with all men.
Social work, admirable and praise-worthy as it is (let us think of what a Mother Teresa of Calcutta has accomplished --she was not a State Employee, thank God) will never solve the tragic problem of poverty: You shall always have poor among you. She devoted every moment of her religious life to relieve the poor. Has poverty disappeared? But her deeds of love are jewels now resplendent on her crown. This does not mean that we shouldnt do everything possible to help those in need, but not to commit moral evil has priority. Murder is irreversible: a corpse cannot be brought back to life.
Catholics blessed by the Magisterium are doubly culpable for not listening to the voice of our pastors who defend both Gods commandments and the natural law.
I repeat: to place a strict moral commandment which suffers no exception, on the same level with a vague unwarranted claim that in the long run the abominable moral evil of abortion coupled with social concerns will have positive consequences, is a tragic confusion which, alas, has caught many good Catholics into its devilish net. Indeed, the Devil is the Master of confusion.
Before going to the polls, may I urge all men of good will to say a short prayer echoing the one of the blind man of Jericho: Lord, that I may see.
Do not be surprised when the Church has their big Emily Litella moment if he gets a second term...
So long as Pelosi and Biden claim they are “Catholics,” the church stands indicted as hypocrites.
You can not be a Catholic and support a pro-abortion, pro-homo “marriage” candidate. For these once-a-year Mass attending “catholics”, you need to find yourself a religion, I would suggest the Episcopalians, who allow baby killing and homo “marriage”. You are bringing down the Church with your open hostility to the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Quit calling yourself Catholic because you’re not.
Wow. Really well done.
Alice Von Hildebrand is pretty amazing. If we all knew someone of her moral clarity, we’d behave better.
I do wish that the Catholic Church would stop saying that you need to be saved through the Catholic Church. No where in the Bible does it say that. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” I think when the people understand that the Church doesn’t save them, we will see people like Biden and Pelosi move on to a liberal church. They think they are saved but their actions don’t speak of their following what Jesus says.
they are CINOs only.
Christ founded his Church on Peter and the Apostles — the first Pope and Bishops.
Can you get your brain around that?
You’re wrong. The Catholic Church believes in any baptism that believes in the Holy Trinity. These Christians are in the Body of Christ. They do say though that the Catholic Church is the fullness of the Faith, which it is.
Yes, I can understand that but that is not what Jesus meant. Salvation comes through HIM, not the church. He is our salvation. Please look at John 14:6. Yes, Jesus built His church on Peter and the others but it was their confession of Jesus being Lord and Savior. Check out Romans 10:9,10.
Sadly, it is not just the once-a-year Catholics who support Obama and the Dems. At my soon-to-be-former parish, there are cars in the parking lot every week with Obama bumper stickers; an extraordinary minister has publicly declared herself pro-choice; and the faith formation director drives a vehicle with Obama-Biden bumper stickers.
It's the sort of parish where there's a lot of talk about "fair-trade coffee," social justice, and Hallmark card banalities about love and happiness but very little talk about the the Church's immutable teachings on abortion, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, contraception, etc... It aches my soul.
Yes, Jesus died on the Cross, and after his Resurrection he established the Catholic Church by breathing on the Apostles and giving them the power to forgive sin. It's in the Bible. Why don't you believe the Bible?
The Catholic Church does not say that.
You are misinformed...or brainwashed by your “pastor”.
FROM THE WEEKLY STANDARD:
What the Schneck?
A Catholic University scholars data-free theory on Romney and abortion. OCT 1, 2012, VOL. 18, NO. 03 BY JONATHAN V. LAST
Professor Stephen Schneck is a conundrum. Hes a Catholic who works for the Catholic University of America (CUA). But hes involved with the group Catholics for Obamadespite the church hierarchys view that the president is attacking the religious freedom of Catholics. Hes pro-life. But he supports Democratic politicians universallyeven though the party has become manifestly hostile to pro-lifers. Schnecks most puzzling contradiction is this: He claims that while Democrats support abortion rights, its really Republicans who cause abortions.
Schneck is very specific about it. He has numbers. At an event in Charlotte earlier this month during the Democratic convention, Schneck spoke on a panel hosted by Democrats for Life. He asked the audience, Can one vote for Romney if it means a 6, or 7, or, God forbid, 8 percent increase in the number of abortions in America?
Thats an interesting question. Interesting because (1) it contradicts the received wisdom about abortion and (2) it does so with seeming mathematical precision. Schneck doesnt foresee a 4 percent jump. Or a 12 percent jump. He locates the projected rise in a narrow band. Its the kind of figure that brings you up short. Because Stephen Schneck isnt just some crank professor trying to rile up his undergraduates. Hes the director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic StudiesCUAs in-house think tank. As IPR says on its website, the institute continues to bring rigorous academic research to bear on contemporary questions of public policy and religion.
So when Schneck says that the number of abortions will increase under Mitt Romney, by 6 or 7 or 8 percent, he isnt just popping off. Hes a serious academic, wearing Catholic Universitys pointiest, most rigorous, social science hat.
Or so, at first, I thought.
Christ did not come to teach us to drink the kool aid and to hold our tongues in the face of things that are clearly wrong. Even if the perps are wearing Cardinals’ vestments.
I stand by my statement that if Obama gets re-elected the Church leadership will crawl back in the hole and quietly accept the fact that they have to pay for birth control. After all they’ve been accepting that in Europe since the 1960’s.
Alice von Hildebrand continues to be a treasure of the Church.
Her teaching can be a great asset for some of the new evangelization :-)
“I stand by my statement that if Obama gets re-elected the Church leadership will crawl back in the hole and quietly accept the fact that they have to pay for birth control.”
I believe you are quite mistaken about this.
The Catholic Church is all dead but in parts of Europe, replaced by athiests and socialism. The US Supreme Court will strike down the religious liberty part of the HHS mandate. I stand by that statement.
“The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit, they are foolishness unto him.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Yes I can get my brains around that; but I cannot get my spirit around it!
Jesus said: “It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak they are spirit, and they are life,” John 6:63)
Jesus also said: “I will build My church....not others, but My church” (Matthew 16:18)
.....that spiritual Rock that followed them; that Rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10: 4)