California bishops speak out

Another gruesome video released this morning

 

The following comes from a July 28 press release from the Santa Rosa diocese:

SANTA ROSA — Bishop Robert F. Vasa made the following statement [about the videos released by The Center for Medical Progress] which strongly suggest how Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of fetal body parts.

Said Bishop Vasa, “Each week for three weeks now, we have been exposed to one heinous video after another, each one more shocking than the last. This nurse’s biggest concern in aborting these tiny babies was getting quality body parts because ‘Planned Parenthood was getting compensated.’

“While the very thought that we as taxpayers are complicit with Planned Parenthood in the provision of abortion at all is very disturbing to me, these recordings show an even more grizzly side to the abortion industry.

“It is unconscionable that this land of the free and home of the brave not only tolerates but actively supports such perversity. Congress needs to thoroughly investigate these accusations immediately.

“No public funds should be provided to organizations promoting abortions especially if involved in the marketing of human body parts. An organization committed to such gruesome evil should not get a dime from taxpayers”

The following come from a July 29 Real Clear Religion article by Bishop-elect Robert Barron of the Los Angeles archdiocese:

I am sure by now that many of you have seen the appalling hidden-camera videos of two Planned Parenthood physicians bantering cheerfully with interlocutors posing as prospective buyers of the body parts of aborted infants.

While they slurp wine in elegant restaurants, the good doctors — both women — blandly talk about what price they would expect for providing valuable inner organs, and how the skillful abortionists of Planned Parenthood know just how to murder babies so as not to damage the goods. One of the doctors specified that the abortion providers employ “less crunchy” methods when they know that the organs of a baby are going to be harvested for sale. Mind you, the “crunchiness” she’s talking about is a reference to the skull-crushing and dismemberment by knife and suction typically employed in abortions.

For me, the most bone-chilling moment was when one of the kindly physicians, informed that the price she was asking was too low, leered and said, “Oh good, because I’d like a Lamborghini.”

Now it is easy enough to remark and lament the moral coarseness of these women, the particularly repulsive way that they combine violence and greed. But I would like to explore a deeper issue that these videos bring to light, namely, the forgetfulness of the dignity of the human being that is on ever clearer display in our Western culture.

One has only to consider the over 58,000,000 abortions that have taken place, under full protection of the law, in our country since Roe v. Wade in 1973, or the ever more insistent push toward permitting euthanasia, even of children in some European countries, or the wanton killing going on nightly in the streets of our major cities.

What makes this sort of startling violence against human beings possible is the attenuation of our sense of God’s existence.

In the classical Western perspective, the dignity of the human person is a consequence and function of his or her status as a creature of God. Precisely because the human being is made in the image and likeness of the Creator and destined, finally, for eternal life on high with God, he is a subject of inalienable rights. I use Jefferson’s language from the Declaration of Independence on purpose here, for the great founding father knew that the absolute nature of the rights he was describing follows from their derivation from God: “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…”

When God is removed from the picture, human rights rather rapidly evanesce, which can be seen with clarity in both ancient times and modern. For Cicero, Aristotle, and Plato, a cultural elite enjoyed rights, privileges, and dignity, while the vast majority of people were legitimately relegated to inferior status, some even to the condition of slavery. In the totalitarianisms of the last century — marked in every case by an aggressive dismissal of God — untold millions of human beings were treated as little more than vermin.

I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless. For instance, if human worth is a function of a person’s intelligence or creativity or imagination, or her capacity to enter into friendship, then why not say that this worth disappears the moment those powers are underdeveloped, weakened, or eliminated altogether? Or if respect for human dignity is related to the strength of one’s feeling for another person, then who is to say that that dignity vanishes once one’s sentiments change or dry up?

My suspicion is that if we asked people on the street why human beings should be respected, some version of this argument from sentimentality would emerge. But again, the problem is that feelings are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind. If you doubt me, read some of the accounts of the officers and soldiers in the Nazi death camps, who, after years of killing, lost all feeling for those they were murdering, seeing them as little more than rats or insects.

I realize that many philosophers and social theorists have tried to ground a sense of human dignity in something other than God, but these attempts have all proven fruitless. For instance, if human worth is a function of a person’s intelligence or creativity or imagination, or her capacity to enter into friendship, then why not say that this worth disappears the moment those powers are underdeveloped, weakened, or eliminated altogether? Or if respect for human dignity is related to the strength of one’s feeling for another person, then who is to say that that dignity vanishes once one’s sentiments change or dry up?

My suspicion is that if we asked people on the street why human beings should be respected, some version of this argument from sentimentality would emerge. But again, the problem is that feelings are so ephemeral, shifting and changing like the wind. If you doubt me, read some of the accounts of the officers and soldiers in the Nazi death camps, who, after years of killing, lost all feeling for those they were murdering, seeing them as little more than rats or insects.

For the past two hundred years, atheists have been loudly asserting that the dismissal of God will lead to human liberation. But once the human being is untethered from God, he becomes, in very short order, an object among objects, and hence susceptible to the grossest manipulation by the powerful and self-interested. In the measure that people still speak of the irreducible dignity of the individual, they are, whether they know it or not, standing upon Biblical foundations. When those foundations are shaken — as they increasingly are today — a culture of death will follow just as surely as night follows day.

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  1. Kristin says:

    Would that ALL bishops denounce the horrific practice of abortion and those organizations providing them. Why haven’t they? Come on bishops, as shepherds to the flock this is your duty before Christ Almighty.

    And while they’re at it, how about denying Holy Communion to pro-abort politicians who cause scandal and put their souls in mortal jeopardy? Can I get a yes??

  2. How direct and and to the point! Way to go Bishop Vasa!

  3. John Feeney says:

    Where are the rest of the California bishops? May be they’re too busy advocating gun control!

  4. Robert Bushlow says:

    Thank you Bishop Vasa for your courageous and faithful stance.

  5. St. Christopher says:

    OK, good for Bishop Vasa, but how many other bishops in CA joined him? Chirp. . . chirp . . . chirp.

    Nope, these guys could care less. In fact, it is unlikely you will ever hear anything from most American bishops and cardinals, including Dolan and company. Why is that? But, basically, they have made the Catholic Church a political operation. Good work, guys, you pretty much left enough ambiguity so that Obama could be elected twice, with clear Catholic majorities. Disgusting. Stop giving them a penny, and donate to the Little Sisters of the Poor or other worthwhile charity (or perhaps drop a few dollars on the SSPX for the construction of their great new seminary out here in VA!).

  6. The bishops have no problem with government confiscating then redistributing the goods and labor of the citizen when it suits their own purposes, but feign shock, shock, when the same loot ends up in Planned Parenthood’s coffers.

    I’m looking forward to the next video installment at a Catholic conference where American bishops are found sipping wine while playing footsie under the table with PICO, ACORN, Gamaliel, Interfaith Worker Justice, Pax Cristi, etc.

    The reaction, unfortunately, will be a collective yawn.

  7. For your penance, Bishop Barron, you will read Cicero, Aristotle and Plato. Now make a good act of contrition.

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