In this quite troubled world in which we live today, it is not as if there is no-one looking for solutions. In recent weeks politicians, businessmen, celebrities and journalists all gathered in the Swiss Alps at the World Economic Forum to discuss the pressing issues of the day. The general consensus that seemed to emerge from the conference was that the two greatest evils facing humanity at the moment are climate change and inequality. It then transpired that the airports servicing this get-together in Davos had been congested by a record influx of private jets. The press reported that participants in the conference were being ferried in and out of Switzerland on around 1,500 private flights.
As the canapés circulated on the second day of the World Economic Forum, photographers on the other side of the Atlantic captured the moment that New York State’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, signed in a law that allows the abortion of healthy babies up until the moment of birth. Surrounded by smiling politicians, Mr Cuomo decreed that prominent public buildings around Manhattan were to be lit pink to celebrate. Other states across the U.S.A. quickly announced that they were aiming to secure similar legislation as quickly as possible. Back in Davos, meanwhile, no-one seemed to think that any of this was worthy of a mention.
The further that our society moves away from the Gospel, the blinder and the more brutal this world inevitably becomes. When barbaric legislation facilitating infanticide is seen as a reason for public celebration it is hard to imagine how much lower we could sink.
We must, however, avoid being uncharitable towards those people in Davos who convinced themselves, and perhaps others, that climate change and inequality are the greatest evils in the world today. When it comes to the environment, the Church teaches with perfect clarity that human beings have a moral duty to be responsible custodians of this planet, the care of which we see being entrusted to Adam and Eve in Genesis. (Gen 1.28) Any exploitation of the earth’s resources which is motivated by greed is undoubtedly a sin. As for equality or the lack of it, the moral principle is not quite so clear-cut. The truth is that we are none of us truly equal in so far we all come into this world with different gifts and limitations. The Kingdom of God is a hierarchy – Christ is King, and in Heaven there is royal court in which Our Lady reigns as Queen over the Angels and Saints. But the Gospels do tell us that the rich have a responsibility to the poor, and that this responsibility is so grave that their salvation depends on it.
However, if we are talking about the environment, we have to realise that a mother’s womb in which an innocent human life is conceived and nurtured is the most sacred environment of all. And if we are talking about equality, we have to realise that the dignity of the human person is a principle which is rooted in the sanctity of each and every innocent human life at every stage of its existence from the moment of conception. This means that any attempt to create an environmentally responsible and just society that fails to recognise the inviolability of an innocent child’s life inside the mother’s womb is without any foundation in reality, and doomed to failure and collapse.
The opinion makers of our time seem to have lost sight of this altogether. As a result, grave crimes become a daily occurrence, and we are in serious danger of becoming desensitised to great evil. But we must not allow ourselves to be desensitised, because if we fail to challenge those of our elected politicians who vote in favour of legislation facilitating infanticide (and there is currently well-funded lobbying going on in Parliament to abolish restrictions on abortion here – please see the notice that follows this letter) then we become complicit in a sin that cries to Heaven for retribution.
Certainly, sounding a discordant note when everyone else is singing obediently from the official hymn sheet will mean that we expose ourselves to opposition and ridicule. If we happen to work for the medical profession or in education, there is a serious possibility that we shall find ourselves overlooked for promotion or even out of employment. But as Our Lord warns us in the Gospel: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did of the false prophets.” (Lk 6.26)
On the other hand, “Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you and revile you ... on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold your reward is great in Heaven.” (Lk 6.23) It might surprise us that being persecuted and despised are counted among the Beatitudes. But the ancient Greek word for beatitude, or blessedness, is Makarios. It was applied primarily to the pagan gods, whose essential happiness was held to remain unaffected by the vicissitudes and tragedies of life on earth. We mortals must inhabit a fallen world in which we are buffeted by no end of trials. But if we are in a state of grace, then we have a flame of the Divine Life alight in our hearts, something that no external circumstances can touch or diminish, and only our own sin can extinguish. This revealed truth should be an encouragement to any young person considering going into public life but fearful of hostility.
Looking at the world today, it seems that Our Lord has too few friends, too few disciples. Such was the case at the time of His Passion, when He was abandoned even by St Peter, the chief of the Apostles. But we have the benefit of knowing the outcome of Good Friday – that outcome was Easter, and we have experienced Easter for ourselves in our Baptism when we were filled with the life of the Resurrection. Let us answer the Baptismal call to discipleship and friendship now, in the confidence that whatever trials it might bring, it will also give us a share in Beatitude now, and Beatitude in its fullness in eternity.
Fr Julian Large
URGENT APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE UNBORN CHILD
Later in the year, a group of MPs will be bringing forward an amendment to the Domestic Abuse Bill which will seek to introduce abortion on demand to Northern Ireland and remove most of the current legal safeguards around abortion in England and Wales. Right To Life UK is working with Peers and MPs in Parliament to counter these attempts, which they have identified as the biggest challenge on this issue since the Abortion Act was introduced in 1967. If you would like to donate to this campaign or get involved, do contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on Right to Life UK visit www.righttolife.org.uk.