“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Sunday, July 30, 2017


On August 31st, 1997, Princess Diana died in a tragic car accident at the age of thirty-six. She was fleeing from the constant hounding, hounding -- the incessant hounding of photographers. Who can forget the dreadful images of the Mercedes Benz twisted and wrecked in the Paris tunnel on Pont de l'Alma road? Even as the princess lay dying in the back seat of the car, the paparazzi kept their cameras flashing. I consider them responsible for her death.

On September 5th, 1997, Mother Teresa died at the age of 87, after a lifetime of work with the poorest of the poor in India. Her death was overshadowed by that of Princess Diana, five days earlier. CNN anchor Martin Savage reported Mother Teresa’s death as a secondary story to the evening's broadcast. Savage said she was a missionary to the “so-called poorest of the poor.” I was furious! "So-called" poorest of the poor!

I fired off a fax to CNN challenging Savage. Who did he -- with his expensive suit and blow-dried hair -- consider to be the world's poorest of the poor? To the credit of Mr.  Savage immediately called me at my house and apologized, saying he was simply reading what was on the teleprompter. Okay, mistakes happen, but who wrote those words and with whose approval?

The nasty, anti-Christian writer, Christopher Hitchens called Mother Teresa a “mediocre human personality.” He said, “She was a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud”.[1]  He was a vicious man. Hitchens occasionally appeared on CNN and other television networks to spew his vitriol around the globe.

Jesus’ standard for greatness was obviously different than Hitchens’. Christ said, “The greatest among you must be your servant.” (Matthew 23.11, also see Matthew 21.25-27.) That's what Mother Teresa was.

Mother Teresa epitomized what Christ meant when He prayed, “I gave them your word, and the world hated them,because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” (John 17.14)
A Princess and a saint
A princess and a saint: One lived in extravagant luxury, the other lived in austerity. One reached out to those in need while the other lived with those in need and gave her life to them. One was the people’s princess while the other brought humanity’s poorest the divine love of the King of Kings.

The world was made poorer with the tragic and premature death of Princess Diana. The world was made richer by Mother Teresa’s life of Christian service and obedience to God, which came to its natural conclusion on September 5th, 1997.

None of us knows when our lives will end. Make your life a beautiful gift to God and humanity. Very few of us will ever be royalty but we can all serve the King.

Mark Davis Pickup
[1] Christopher Hitchens, “Mommy Dearest: The Pope Beatifies Mother Teresa, A Fanatic, a Fundamentalist, and a Fraud”, Slate, October 20th 2003. (http://www.slate.com/id/2090083)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Judie Brown
Judie Brown is one of America's great defenders of life, and a living saint. She is co-founder and President of the American Life League (ALL) based in Stafford, Virginia; it is America's largest grassroots, Catholic pro-life organization. Judie Brown is also a friend of HumanLifeMatters and personal friend of my wife and me.  

In recent email correspondence, Mrs. Brown and I were discussing a cultural despair that pervades post-Christian North American culture. The results are proving to be calamitous; the weak and most vulnerable are paying dearly. 

We need to be a more inclusive culture that includes people with disabilities, the unborn, the chronically ill and the dying as indispensable members of their communities and society. 

Judie Brown eloquently expanded on the concept of inclusion of society's most vulnerable in a commentary she wrote for the ALL website. See "THE TSUNAMI OF DESPAIR" at the following link.

Monday, July 24, 2017


A young Christian blogger named Rana Tarakji, based in Beirut, contacted me to asked if she could write columns for the HumanLifeMatters blog. Rana wants to write a column about lifestyle, fashion and issues pertinent to young people. I thought perhaps a periodic column for young people might bring pleasant change to the HumanLifeMatters blog (which often deals with serious subjects of life issues and Christian faith. Here is Rana's first offering. MDP

by Rana Tarakji

Go to school, get a good education and then get a great, safe and secure job.

Growing up across the poor to upper middle -class sections of society, this statement or a version of it can be heard ringing from most homes. During many years of schooling even at the University level, teachers, professors, and administrators reaffirm the same ideas. In both instances, the guardian set over the students is coming from a place of love and protection. They know the struggles which limit the unprepared individual, but without knowing it, many students and children are being set up to fail as adults.

The 2008 financial crisis made one point very evident, depending only on a classic 9-5 as an income source is not a guarantee of success and it can also be unstable. Many who had great and so called secure jobs as executives among other vocations found themselves in a very dark and unfamiliar place with one question to ponder.

How do I overcome this time of struggle and keep my life intact without falling apart and losing my happiness?[1- see link below] Not having stability, especially financially, can cause many people to utterly collapse from mental exhaustion.

Discovering a Better Path
Having a great lifestyle is the aim for most couples; many even aim for the moniker of “power couple”. If the only aim as a couple is to become richer, a spouse losing their job can create a huge chasm in the relationship. That loss of income and the unsurety that comes with not knowing what is next can fester and develop into many arguments pertaining to unresolved feelings.

To overcome this hurdle and grow the relationship, one thing must be understood -- there is a difference between good advice and God-driven advice. Taking and applying the wrong piece of advice or help can cause a relationship to experience a nuclear winter (when the issue is more like a flat tire type of situation).

The first step is admitting to yourself that money is not what brings self-worth. Each step after this is based on having tough but honest conversations; for example, speaking with the Lord can give you time to reflect on past mistakes and prepare for new opportunities.[2 - see link below] A key factor afterwards is to position yourself for new opportunities as they arise.

Dealing with an unsure spouse who is used to a certain level of comfort comes next. Coming from a place of calm and logical honesty can prevent arguments down the line. Having honest conversations regarding the changing of a lifestyle is of utmost priority. Things such as seeking a smaller, cheaper house may be in order. If there are two cars, discuss giving up one of them if there is a monthly payment to be considered. Reduce spending on luxuries like art objects and focus primarily on needs.

Since one of you will have more time at home, consider cooking instead of eating out daily.
Rana Tarakji
[1] http://Stylerail.com
[2] www.Holyart.com

Sunday, July 23, 2017


There is a Kenyan proverb made famous by Hillary Clinton that says It Takes a Village to raise a child. (Don't let her association with the proverb cast dispersions of its point.)

The proverb means, of course, that the entire community has a stake in the proper nurture and raising of a child, not just the child's parents. It also involves grandparents, teachers, pastors and parish. We all have a stake in the raising of our community’s children. It speaks to the concept of human connectedness and interdependence. It’s the villagers who make a village.

Individuals investing themselves in their neighbours or neighbourhoods – now that's what really makes life better in a community! Human relationships are what makes life rich, fulfilling and meaningful.  People must give, not just take. This touches on the interconnectedness that binds people together in a community.

Human interdependence accepts others as having equal natural dignity. When people accept this concept, it sparks the beginning of understanding the universality of human dignity.

Christ said, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.”[1] 

Golden rule
We commonly call this the Golden rule. There’s something universal about it. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Isn’t the Golden Rule really an extension of the Hebrew Old Testament concept to love your neighbour as yourself? In ancient China, Confucius said, “Never do to others what you would not like them to do to you."[2] In Hindu writings you will find this quote: "One should not behave toward others in a way that is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality." [3]  

Do unto others
How would you like to be treated? That’s how you should respond to other people. How would you like others to treat your children or grandchildren? Treat your neighbour's children or grandchildren that way. Treat them with the lovingkindness and understanding you would want your own children to receive in your neighbour’s company.

Treat the old people you meet with the same courtesy and deference you would want your parents to receive from people. The senior you meet may be somebody’s parent and they were certainly somebody’s child. They were, at one time, an infant sleeping in a mother’s arms and that mother hoped and prayed for her child who is now the old person you meet on the street. If that is not true, and that old person you meet was never cradled, nurtured or prayed for … then they are in special need of your kindness and friendship.

That is the essence of concern for the common good our communities should reflect at their best.

The Common Good
The common good of any community concerns itself with all its citizens and embraces the natural human dignity of every human life in their midst. To paraphrase the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the common good can be understood as the sum total of social conditions that allow people – as groups or individuals – to reach their potential and flourish.[4] The common good of a community is always concerned with the progress of all its people and recognizes the leadership of public authorities.

Human interdependence accepts others as having equal natural dignity. That is the beginning of understanding the universality of human dignity. (It is the opposite of personal autonomy.)

Most of us will make our marks for equal, natural human dignity in the places where we live (or at least we should). Our legacy will occur in our communities. It will happen through what we give to enrich the lives of others, not what we take.

Make no mistake, your children and grandchildren watch the respect and dignity you show to your fellow human beings in your daily life. Be one of those citizens who hold up human dignity. Commit yourselves to furthering the common good within our community. Whether it’s through your church, community organizations, or service clubs … there are many vehicles to volunteer your time to make community life richer.

Give more than you take. Be other-centered in your community life rather than self-centered. Saint Paul said: “Let each of you look out not only for your own interests, but also the interests of others.” [5]

A community where people are equally concerned about the development, dignity and rights of others, as in their own interests is truly a community.

It is the villagers who make a village.

[1] (Luke 6.31, also Matthew 5.46.)
[2] See C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (London: Oxford University Press, 1978) . Appendix, P.50.)
[3] Hinduism. Hahabbarata, Anusasana Parva 113.8. (For more references see http://www.unification.net/ws/theme015.htm#6)
[4] See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos 1906-1907.
[5] (Philippians 2.4.)

Friday, July 21, 2017


I want you to watch the OUTSTANDING TED talk below, given by my Member of Parliament in Canada, The Honourable Mike Lake, with the assistance of his son Jaden who has autism. I'm fortunate to have such representative as Mike in Parliament. He works around the world for autism awareness. (He's also a Christian) -- Mark  

Sunday, July 16, 2017


The rainbow does not mean what it has come to symbolize on recent years. Throughout the ages, beginning in the ancient mists of antiquity, the rainbow has been a symbol of God's covenant with the earth and its inhabitants.  

Since early childhood, I have been enchanted by rainbows. I did not believe there were pots of gold at the end of rainbows; no, I thought that if anybody was ever able to find the end of a rainbow they would find eternity. After all, rainbows were created by God. I was taught this by my father who read me bedtime Bible stories. We read in the book of Genesis, that God told Noah:

 This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:  I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9.12-17

Rainbows are God’s reminder of a loving covenant of hope He gave to the world.

Children instinctively rejoice when they see rainbows. It’s natural. They have not lost the ability to dream ― their imaginations soar so easily. Adults can occasionally experience a brief, fleeting hint of child-like joy when they unexpectedly encounter a rainbow after a violent summer storm. Perhaps that’s why so many poems and songs have been written about rainbows.

The Muppet Movie (1979) featured Kermit the Frog singing the Rainbow Connection. Composer Paul Williams wrote it.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows,
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it,
I know they’re wrong wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Many years ago my mother died on the same day that my daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren moved away from our small town. It wasn't intentional, just coincidence. My mother had been in palliative care for sixth months with brain cancer; my daughter's family also had been planning to move for six months. As a small mercy, God kept me too busy accompanying my mother through her last months to think about my daughter and her family moving away. It just happened that my mother died and the move happened on the same day. 

It was a sad and lonesome day, or as my little granddaughter would have said, I was “sad and noney.” Yes, sweetheart, and I cried 'till there were no tears left. A hearse and moving truck marked that day. Then, my sadness of that day was punctuated by a thunder storm. 

When it passed, I drove my electric wheelchair to a small lake near my house. I needed to alone to think. A rainbow appeared in the distance and my eyes filled with tears. It was as though God was saying I am here with you.

American Poet John Vance Cheney (1848-1922) wrote, “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.”  I began to understand what he meant.

The second verse of Kermit’s song says,

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Someone thought of that,
And someone believed it,
And look what it’s done so far.
What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

 Throughout the following autumn, on sleepless
nights, I often laid in my bed wishing my daughter and family would return. I would sneak up the hill from my house to the church and sit in the quiet Sanctuary. I prayed before the Blessed Sacrament that my grandchildren would move back with their parents.  

It could not be, and I knew it, but it broke my heart just the same. My prayers were answered by silence. Silence was the answer. I was not supposed to let my heart stay there. It was time to move on.

For the last decade, I have learned to be more attentively to my interior life. Thomas a Kempis said:

"O God my Truth. ... The more we are united to You and become inwardly simple. the more we can, and effortlessly too, understand sublime things about You, for we receive light and understanding from above."[1]

The most important and real truths are seen with the heart, not with the eye. A rainbow is not real ... and yet there it is for all to see. My sorrow was real; it could not be seen, only felt. That's the price we pay for love. Anguish within anguishes is part of my journey home. 

"...while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things that which are seen are temporary, but the things which are unseen eternal."[2]

God's love is the source of all eternal joy. For now, we only get brief inklings or longings for something else. The rainbow is God's covenant creation that has eternal love at its foundation. His love is my rainbow connection. Christ waits on the other side of my rainbow.

[1] Thomas a Kempis, THE TEACHING OF TRUTH,  Chapter 3. 2, 3, The Imitation of Christ, (New York: Random House Inc.. 1998), p. 6.
[2] 2 Corinthians 4.18. NKJV

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Dr. Paul Byne
Charlie Gard is almost one year old. Charlie has mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome (MDDS). This condition is rare; however, Charlie's parents love him and wish to protect his life. Charlie's doctors have preserved Charlie's life. Charlie's brain and muscles have been affected.

Charlie is on a ventilator. A ventilator pushes air with oxygen into Charlie. Yes, this mechanical movement of gases is necessary for Charlie but that is all that the ventilator does. Charlie's lungs, heart and circulation do the rest. They function to absorb the oxygen, circulate blood with oxygen to all of Charlie's organs, tissues and cells. The blood picks up the waste product, carbon dioxide, and delivers it to Charlie's lungs. The ventilator does not and cannot make the body "respire" i.e., exchange the oxygen and carbon dioxide for the organs, tissues and cells. For carbon dioxide to get out, Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles must first have the ventilator push the air in. Then Charlie's lungs and breathing muscles can function effectively to allow movement of the air with carbon dioxide to go out of Charlie. The ventilator does not exhale. The ventilator does not respire. The ventilator does not make the heart beat. It is in the living Charlie that these things occur. The ventilator simply moves the air into the person who needs help or cannot do this movement on their own.

Charlie is alive because doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists are providing treatment and care to Charlie. Charlie also has a feeding tube to provide water and nutrition to Charlie. The ventilator and the feeding tube are commonly used in modern medicine. Pliable plastics and electronics are used in the ventilator. Does the ventilator and feeding tube cause discomfort and suffering for Charlie? No. After insertion, Charlie, like most patients on a ventilator, has become accustomed to the endotracheal tube and the feeding tube.

Charlie's parents want Charlie to live. This is normal behavior for parents. The doctors recommend that Charlie's life support be stopped. Charlie's parents do not wish to have Charlie's life shortened or his death hastened. Lawyers for Great Ormond Street Hospital have been arguing in the legal system to end Charlie's life. The UK courts ruled that it would not be in Charlie's "best interest" to receive any continued or new treatments. Note that Charlie's parents wish for the best treatment for Charlie, but the medical and legal systems conclude that it would not be in the "best interest" of Charlie. This is not simply semantics; it is brainwashing to use words in this way. The ordinary person does not readily realize what is happening.

Tools like a spoon or a feeding tube may be used because the person may be weak or unable to put food into their mouth, but neither these tools nor even the food itself can make the body digest and nourish the organs, tissues and cells. Likewise, the ventilator is a tool that brings the air into the person whose living body does the rest. We all need air, food, water and a way to eliminate waste products to live. Charlie just needs this mechanical help for the air and food to go in, but his living body does the rest.

The general public expects treatment if they go to a hospital. However, Charlie's parents have found themselves in a System of Death. In the United Kingdom, it is well-known that socialized medicine is in place. In the USA, the Secretary of Health sets the rules; doctors, hospitals and private insurance abide by the same rules. The collection and distribution of finances is varied but the control of doctors is very similar. The significance of control of doctors through CMS, which is Medicare and Medicaid, is then a major influence for payments by private insurance companies. This is not commonly known.

President Trump and Pope Francis have expressed concern and support. Such support is gratifying but President Trump and Pope Francis cannot know the System as well as Charlie and his parents have found it to be.

I have participated in the treatment and care of Jahi McMath. Jahi's mother wanted treatment and care for Jahi. Jahi was in a children's hospital in Oakland, California in 2013; a death certificate was issued on December 12. The doctors, nurses, and administrators referred to Jahi as a dead body. They would not call her by her name. Miraculously, a hospital in New Jersey agreed to accept Jahi as a patient. Jahi has had her 14th, 15th and 16th birthdays. Jahi lives at home with her family in New Jersey. Jahi cannot go back to California because she has a death certificate in California. How long will it take, if ever it does happen, that the legal system will admit that Jahi is alive in New Jersey?

Israel Stinson was one-year-old infant when he had an asthma attack in Sacramento, California. Doctors said that he was "brain dead." No doctor or hospital in the United States would treat Israel. He was transferred to Guatemala where tracheostomy and gastrostomy were done. Israel received thyroid medication and proper nutrition in Guatemala. Doctors refused to accept Israel back to the United States. Eventually, Los Angeles Children's Hospital agreed to accept Israel to their hospital. After admission to LA Children's Hospital, doctors refused further evaluation by CT scan, MRI or consultation from outside neurologists. Israel was alive when he went to Guatemala and when he arrived back in the USA at LA Children's Hospital. The legal system and medical doctors in California stopped Israel's ventilator, food and water. Then Israel was truly dead.

Mirranda Lawson was a 2-year-old girl who choked on popcorn. Within a few days doctors in Virginia told Mirranda's parents that she was "brain dead" but wanted to do the procedure called an apnea test. Note that this is not a test for sleep apnea; it is a procedure that takes away the life supporting ventilator for 10 minutes or longer. Even if oxygen is given without breathing support from the ventilator, carbon dioxide and acids increase. This is not told families. An apnea test could not benefit Mirranda and possibly could result in death. Nevertheless, the judge in Virginia ruled to do the apnea test. The ruling was immediately appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The legal system appointed a Guardian for Mirranda. It was so sad for me to observe a system that appointed another attorney to be Guardian for Mirranda and did not allow Mirranda's mother, father or any of her 4 siblings to be her Guardian. Mirranda's parents also asked for tests to evaluate thyroid function. Doctors admitted that she was likely to be low on thyroid hormone, but refused testing and treatment for this. Adequate amount of thyroid hormone is essential for healing and living for all of us. Doctors in Virginia refused to do a tracheostomy and a feeding tube so that Mirranda could be cared for at home. Before the Virginia Supreme Court would hear the arguments, Mirranda did die in the hospital, about 6 months after choking on popcorn.

Now we hear about Charlie Gard in England. Charlie needs a tracheostomy and gastrostomy so he can be treated at home. Tracheostomy is necessary whenever an endotracheal tube has been in place about 2 weeks. A feeding tube, commonly a PEG (per cutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) tube, is relatively simple to insert and more easily managed than a feeding tube inserted through nose or mouth. Yes, by all means, do the investigations and treatments of the rare condition of Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome (MDDS). Hurrah, if it is successful. If it is not, let Charlie be treated with a tracheostomy and a feeding tube so he can be at home. All of this can be done in England. He doesn't need to go to USA or Italy unless doctors in England refuse to treat Charlie. If doctors in England would have treated Charlie, the legal system might not be involved. But a doctor, a medical system and a legal system are needed to treat Charlie. Jahi, Israel, Mirranda and many others find themselves in a System of Death that is based on the mendacity (deception, lie) of "brain death." Hospice, Comfort Care, Palliative Care, and Futile Care Policies have followed and are part of the System of Death. All of these include less treatment, little or no care, and drugs for what is interpreted as suffering that may hasten death and shorten life.

We thank President Trump, Pope Francis and all those concerned about Charlie. We stand with Charlie's parents wishing the best treatments for their baby. We hope and pray Charlie will be treated with a tracheostomy and feeding tube (PEG tube), specific medications, ventilatory and nutritional support so that Charlie can be at home with his parents.
Printed with permission
Dr. Paul A. Byrne is a Board Certified Neonatologist and Pediatrician. He is the Founder of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center in St. Louis, MO. He is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at University of Toledo, College of Medicine. He is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Fellowship of Catholic Scholars.

Dr. Byrne is past-President of the Catholic Medical Association (USA), formerly Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at St. Louis University in St. Louis, MO and Creighton University in Omaha, NE. He was Professor of Pediatrics and Chairman of the Pediatric Department at Oral Roberts University School of Medicine and Chairman of the Ethics Committee of the City of Faith Medical and Research Center in Tulsa, OK. He is author and producer of the film "Continuum of Life" and author of the books "Life, Life Support and Death," "Beyond Brain Death," and "Is 'Brain Death' True Death?"

Dr. Byrne has presented testimony on "life issues" to nine state legislatures beginning in 1967. He opposed Dr. Kevorkian on the television program "Cross-Fire." He has been interviewed on Good Morning America, public television in Japan and participated in the British Broadcasting Corporation Documentary "Are the Donors Really Dead?" Dr. Byrne has authored articles against euthanasia, abortion, and "brain death" in medical journals, law literature and lay press.

Paul was married to Shirley for forty-eight years until she entered her eternal reward on Christmas 2005. They are the proud parents of twelve children, grandparents of thirty-one grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017


Bill Tammeus
A few years ago, the National Catholic Reporter published a commentary under the title “Status of abortion, death penalty in Catholic teaching makes little sense.” Really? Why would a  Catholic newspaper publish this Op-Ed piece? It was written by Presbyterian Bill Tammeus who took issue with the Catholic Church and its position against abortion in comparison to its opposition to the death penalty.

Mr. Tammeus said, “In the case of prisoners on death row, we have human beings who have been around for years, having proved viable outside the womb .... By contrast, in the matter of abortion, we have a bundle of cells that may one day be born.” He goes on to assert that learned people “disagree on the question of whether and when those cells constitute a legally protected person.”

Catholic teaching recognizes society’s right to impose the death penalty in extreme cases for its own protection. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “... the traditional teaching of the Church has acknowledged as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty.” (2266) Having acknowledged this, the Catechism then states its preference for bloodless means of punishment for the common good of society and “conformity to the dignity of the human person.” (2267)

On the matter of abortion, Bill Tammeus shows a woeful ignorance of embryology. A “bundle of cells”? Again, why would a Catholic newspaper publish such uninformed drivel? Does Bill Tammeus not know that biology and medicine proved long ago that prenatal life is a separate human being? After reading this Tammeus’ commentary, I contacted the renowned American molecular biologist Dr. Dianne Irving of Bethesda, Maryland. She said:
“The human embryo/fetus at any stage of prenatal development is an organism, an already existing human being -- not a mere “bunch of cells”. Bill Tammeus is obviously grossly ignorant of the long-known objective scientific facts of human embryology. It has been internationally acknowledged for over a hundred years that in sexual reproduction the new human being begins to exist as a single-cell organism at the beginning of the process of fertilization.”

The Catholic Church has opposed abortion since the first century. This has not changed and remains unchangeable (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271). I doubt that will change because of an ill-informed Presbyterian.

The simple fact is that the Catholic Church does not hold a hierarchy of human rights or worthiness.  This is different from the truth that not all moral issues are equal. During the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a memorandum to American Cardinal McCarrick of Washington DC, under the heading  “Worthiness to Receive Holy communion: General Principles”. In that correspondence, Cardinal Ratzinger dealt with these issues. He said, in part:

“... The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them ... .”

Cardinal Ratzinger’s memorandum later stated:
“Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.” 

The holy man continued:
“There may be,” he declared, “a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

When it comes to capital punishment and abortion, only abortion is inherently wrong because it destroyed innocent life.

On the matter of justice, I understand there are individuals who are so damaged and dangerous that they must be removed from society. Perhaps they are so damaged they cannot be restored (barring a dramatic healing touch of Christ). Still, the Church believes in the inherent dignity of every human person as a bearer of God’s image. There is no human offence so vile that it lies outside God’s mercy, but neither is there any unborn child so insignificant that it is unworthy of love, life and protection.  We must never dehumanize others by our words or deeds.
No life is just a “bundle of cells”.  No man sinks beneath his humanity because of his criminal deeds.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to show love and concern for them – just as Christ showed love and concern for us.