Tuesday 23rd July 2019

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July 5, 2019 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Editor’s Note: Since this column is dated on the day we celebrate the birthday of our nation, and it comes at a time when mention of God and freedom of religion are under attack in our country, it might be worth recalling how important God was to the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, who put their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor on the line 243 years ago.
On no less than four occasions in that brief document did our Founders mention the role of God in their bold proclamation.
In the first paragraph of the Declaration, the signers said that they were acting “to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them.”
In the second paragraph came the most important words in the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We get our rights from God, said the signers, not from government.
After enumerating the many abuses inflicted on the Colonies by the British Government, the signers, appealing to the “Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,” declared their independence from Great Britain and said that “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
That was no idle pledge since the signers knew that they were committing an act of high treason against the British Crown and that the penalty for doing so was death by hanging. When John Hancock, the first to sign his name to the document, said that “we must be unanimous…we must all hang together,” Benjamin Franklin wittily retorted, “Yes, we must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
These 56 men, who ranged in age from 26 to 70, were moral men, mostly religious, and all persons of integrity who had been welded together in a common purpose. Many of them were prominent and prosperous citizens who had a great deal to lose — life, liberty, and property — but they were convinced that the cause was worth the risk.
In point of fact, disaster and ruin were the lot of many of the signers. Nine died of wounds or hardships during the War for Independence. Five were jailed and brutally treated. One lost all 13 of his children. The wives, sons, and daughters of others were killed, imprisoned, harassed, or deprived of all material possessions. Seventeen signers lost everything they owned, and all of them were hunted as traitors, with most separated from their homes and families.
But none of the signers ever betrayed his pledged word. There were no defectors. No one changed his mind. Lives and fortunes were lost, but their sacred honor was never sacrificed. Half of them continued to serve their country after the war — several as President, many as members of Congress, governors, and state legislators — and many of them later played a role in drawing up the Constitution of the United States.
We, too, live in difficult times today. Like the Founders of this country, we find the right to life, liberty, and religious freedom threatened. We too are burdened by an oppressive government that “has erected a multitude of new offices and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” And we have our own “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots,” in Thomas Paine’s famous words, who shrink from the defense of their Church and their country. But we have many more courageous men and women who will pray and work to make sure that this country remains “one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” May God continue to bless this land!

Q. It seems that we used to recite the Gloria at Mass, but since we started using the Marty Haugen Mass of Sing Praise here, the Gloria has always been sung and never recited. Would a lack of musical accompaniment be a reason for simply reciting this prayer? — M.S., Michigan.
A. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that the Gloria can be sung or recited, and lack of musical accompaniment would be a reason for reciting it. “It is intoned by the Priest or, if appropriate, by a cantor or by the choir,” says the GIRM, “but it is sung either by everyone together, or by the people alternately with the choir, or by the choir alone. If not sung, it is to be recited either by everybody together or by two choirs responding one to the other. It is sung or said on Sundays outside Advent and Lent, and also on Solemnities and Feasts, and at particular celebrations of a more solemn character” (n. 53).

Q. I grew up in the pre-Vatican II era when abortion was only allowed to save the life of the mother, using the principle of the “double effect” if I remember my Jesuit philosophy training correctly. I have never understood why the father’s rights were never considered. The father should have the same say about what happens to the baby as the mother. — L.E., via e-mail.
A. Of course, a father should have a say in preserving the life of a child whom he helped to create, but in point of fact a father’s rights are not legally recognized when it comes to abortion. Google the Men and Abortion Network for information and resources on this little discussed area. For example, there is a book by Kevin Burke entitled Tears of the Fisherman: Recovery for Men Wounded by Abortion. Kevin and his wife, Theresa, are co-founders of Rachel’s Vineyard, a support group for those seeking healing after an abortion.
Regarding your other point, abortion was never allowed to save the life of the mother. The doctor would do everything he could to save the life of both the mother and the child in a life-threatening situation. As for the principle of the double effect, here is how Brian Clowes explained it in his book The Facts of Life (cf. pp. 184-185):
“As applied to abortion, this means that any treatment done to save a woman’s life that also results in the death of a preborn child is not a true abortion since the primary purpose of the treatment was to save a life, not take one. Even if the death of the baby is a foregone conclusion, such an action is not an abortion because the death was an indirect effect of the surgical procedure.
“Two examples illustrate this principle. If a doctor treat a woman’s high blood pressure by aborting her child, he has committed a direct abortion. He is guilty of killing the child in order to treat the condition of the mother. However, if he has to perform a hysterectomy in order to remove a cancerous uterus, he is focusing on the organ itself in an attempt to heal the mother. If the mother was pregnant at the time, this is an indirect abortion — the purpose of the operation was removing the uterus, not the preborn child.
“In other words, the purpose of the second procedure was not to kill the child in order to preserve the mother’s life, but to save the mother’s life by removing the organ, not the child. If possible, the doctor must delay treatment as long as possible in order to save both the mother and the child. In some cases, such as with ectopic pregnancies, this is not possible.”
Clowes quoted from Pope Pius XII, in an address to the Family Front Congress on November 27, 1951, when the Holy Father said that in such situations “the demand cannot be but this: to use every means to save the life of both the mother and the child.”
Even those on the pro-abortion side concede that there is hardly a situation in which abortion is necessary to save a mother’s life. For example, Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood said back in 1967 that “today it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal disease such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save the life” (“Abortion Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” The Case for Legalized Abortion Now, p. 3).
And then there are these words from former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson in a 1990 statement to the Idaho House of Representatives’ State Affairs Committee: “The situation where the mother’s life is at stake were she to continue a pregnancy is no longer a clinical reality. Given the state of modern medicine, we can now manage any pregnant woman with any medical affliction successfully to the natural conclusion of the pregnancy: the birth of a healthy child.”

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The deposit of faith has not been guarded, instead it has been fragmented & corrupted especially in the areas of marriage, family & sexuality. I pray that bishops & all Catholics will return anew to this font of revealed truth & pray for cleansing & renewal in God’s life & grace.

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Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

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Today . . .

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Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

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Catholic Replies

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