Christian Persecution: Boko Haram Kills 150 in Coordinated Attack on Nigerian Christians

The following article is by Stefan J. Bos, of Worthy News. You are read other articles like this here.

150 Killed In Attack On Nigeria Churches

by Stefan J. Bos, Worthy News Correspondent
ABUJA, NIGERIA (Worthy News)– Islamic militants shouting “Allahu Akbar”, or ‘Allah is great’, carried out coordinated gun and bomb attacks on churches and police stations in northern Nigeria, killing at least 150 people and injuring some 100 others, aid workers and witnesses confirmed Saturday, November 5.

Militant group Boko Haram, or ‘Western education is a sin’, claimed responsibility for what Nigeria’s President leader Goodluck Jonathan described as a “heinous” violence in mainly Damaturu, capital of Yobe state.

Confirmation of the attacks Saturday, November 5, came as frightened mourners tried to leave their homes to begin burying their dead.

Boko Haram, which seeks strict implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law, across the nation of more than 160 million people, pledged more attacks.

The Red Cross aid group and witnesses said fighting began Friday, November 4, around Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, when a car bomb exploded outside a three-story building used as a military office and barracks, with many uniformed security agents dying in the blasts.

Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed told reporters that the “suicide” attackers, driving a black sports utility vehicle, detonated their explosives near the gate of the building, used by the Joint Task Force (JTF), the military unit deployed to curb violence there.

CHURCHES ATTACKED
Several other police stations, a bank and up to six churches were also attacked, residents and aid workers said. Among areas targeted by militants was the Jerusalem area, a predominantly Christian neighborhood, according to witnesses.

One resident, Isa Jakusko, was quoted by French News Agency AFP as saying that city had been thrown into chaos. “There have been several bomb explosions and shooting. As I am talking to you there is still fire exchanges between the attackers and security personnel with the attackers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’,” he reportedly said.

Gunshots were reportedly still heard Saturday, November 5, from different parts of the city with the sky dark with smoke, apparently from burning buildings.

In another part of northern Nigeria, hundreds of youths staged angry protests after gunmen opened fire on a congregation of Christians praying at a village in Kaduna state overnight, witnesses said. (Read more here.)

Libya’s Nuns Continue to Serve Amid Bloodshed

This article, from the Catholic Register, is by Jennifer Roche.

 

Amid the Bloodshed, Libya’s Nuns Continue to Serve Those in Need

Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

BY JENNIFER ROCHE 11/27/2012

Last year the Register published my article “Uncertain Future for Christians in Libya,” which discussed the historical and current challenges facing the Church’s mission in this important North African country. Following the recent terrorist attack that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three security personnel in Benghazi, serious questions continue to surface about the safety of the religious working there.

Despite the chaotic fallout from Libya’s revolutionary war, most Catholic religious have remained in the country to provide humanitarian aid. Among the Church’s small local community, there are approximately 100 sisters of various nationalities who work in hospitals and health-care centers throughout the country.
Since the war, considerable improvement has been made in the area of communication. During the conflict, the phones and Internet were down so it was impossible to contact these religious communities by email or phone. Recently, however, I successfully communicated by phone and email with two Libyan communities.
Sister Rosy Xavier, a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary community at the “La Source” convent in Gargaresh, remains optimistic about her order’s future in Libya. Originally from India, Sister Rosy speaks English well and works as a nurse with the handicapped and the elderly. Her community has just four members, but three European sisters from France, Poland and Spain are now visiting to assist them. Some Franciscan fathers also live nearby and serve their community.
Sister Rosy explained that the sisters work in the local hospital and serve freely as Catholic nuns in this predominately Muslim country. When asked about security concerns, Sister Rosy emphatically said, “ At present, we have no problems here. Our neighbors are so good with us.”
Added Sister Rosy, “Even during the war, we did not leave, and we had no troubles at all.”
Regarding the attack on the U.S. Embassy, she said, “The Libyan people are feeling very bad. There is a lot of apology from them to the U.S.” She said that most Libyans assert, “The attacks were not because of us, but because of the terrorists in Benghazi.”
Sister Priscilla Isidore, a member of the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea, is another Catholic religious working in Libya. Originally from Tanzania, she has served here for 16 years and currently works as a nurse. “Because the Lord is our hope, we will continue with our work among the sick and injured people here and, if necessary, to die with them,” Sister Priscilla affirmed. “That’s our mission. That’s why Christ sent us here.”

Shared Goals
The humanitarian mission of these Catholic sisters corresponds with the late Ambassador Stevens’ initiatives to improve Libya’s medical care. Although the Church and the U.S. government are sometimes at odds over health-care matters, their goals are united in trying to rebuild the Libyan health-care system.
In a statement issued by the Vatican press office in late October, the Holy See assured the Libyan people that it would “continue to offer its witness and selfless service, in particular in the field of charity and health care, and is committed to generously helping to rebuild the country.” (Read more here.)

 

Supreme Court Will Decide Whether to Hear Gay Marriage Cases Tomorrow

WASHINGTON (BP) — The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will meet behind closed doors Friday to decide whether to take up several cases that could lead to the legalization of gay marriage in all 50 states.

The public won’t find out what they decided for several days — as early as Monday — but Friday’s meeting is significant enough that both sides in the cultural debate are guessing what will happen. If the court takes up the cases, it could end up being the “Roe v. Wade” of gay marriage.

At issue are two laws: a federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and a California constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8.

Technically, only one section of DOMA is before the court — the section that defines marriage in federal law as being between one man and one woman. But the legal arguments the Obama administration’s Justice Department attorneys are using to oppose that section could be used to overturn the entire law, conservative attorneys say. That other section gives states the option of not recognizing gay marriage laws from other states. Courts have been split on DOMA, although the cases before the high court overturned the federal section at issue. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is defending DOMA in court.

California Prop 8 was approved by voters in 2008 and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling that struck it down. If the Supreme Court takes the Prop 8 case, it could do a number of things, including upholding Prop 8 or — in what would be a nightmare for Christian legal groups and evangelicals — reversing laws in any state that define marriage as between a man and a woman. The court also could choose not to take the Prop 8 case, a decision which would legalize gay marriage in California. (Read more here.)

Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

Savita Halappanavar: Bad Laws Kill

Bad laws kill.

Bad laws are dangerous. They have serious consequences for innocent people.

A case in point is the Irish law concerning abortion and the death of Savita Halappanavar.

I haven’t written anything about this tragedy because I couldn’t make sense of the press reports. I still can’t figure them out. There is mention of a septic e-coli infection, which so far as my limited medical knowledge goes, would probably be treated by antibiotics and fluids. Everyone seems to agree that Ms Halappanavar requested an abortion and was refused one by what sounds like medical personnel with the statement that “this is a Catholic country.” The other indisputable fact is that Ms Halappanavar died after what could only have been an agonizing period of suffering and lack of good medical care.

I don’t understand how an abortion might have helped her survive an e coli infection. I also don’t understand how she got an e coli infection or why it wasn’t treated appropriately. I’m not, mind you, making judgements here. These are questions for which I do not have answers.

The statement by the medical person that “this is a Catholic country” pulled the Catholic Church into the subsequent public debate about what happened to Ms Halappanavar. A lot of people who sincerely think that the Church hates women were quick to jump in and say “Told ya so!” Others spent a good bit of time trying to defend the Church with explanations that Catholic teaching does not forbid that women be given medical care, including treatment that can end a pregnancy, if the reason for doing so is to not for the direct purpose of killing the baby.

Theologians traded brickbats with outraged humanitarians and nobody understood anybody else. They weren’t speaking the same language and they have such a low opinion of one another that it precludes them trying to speak the same language.

Meanwhile, I kept circling back to the one thing I thought I understood about this tragedy: Somebody wrote a law that caused it.

Irish law isn’t like American law, so it’s hard for me to understand it or to know if I’ve gotten the right facts. I’ve spent some time reading the Irish Constitution, perusing Irish court cases, and checking statutes concerning abortion from centuries past. I still don’t really know for sure what it means, and I think that is the problem. I don’t think anyone knows what Irish law concerning abortion means.

The Irish Constitution makes a statement concerning abortion which reads more like a hatched up attempt to be theological than an honest try at creating a law that would lead to functional civil governance. It is more a statement of intent than anything else. I’ve been writing laws for 17 years, and I can tell you I don’t know how this thing is enforced or even what, exactly, it means.

The only part of it that actually is clear is the part that grants women the right to travel overseas to obtain an abortion and the right to give information about an abortion. Subsequent court cases have gone back and forth with these items until they’ve become convoluted in practice.

Here’s what the Irish Constitution says. I didn’t believe that this was all of Irish law on this matter at first, which is why I did the research. I’m going to set the worst part of it in bold face. Remember that the emphases are mine.

 

Ireland’s restriction on abortion is found in Article 40.3.3 of their Constitution. The latest amended version states:

The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to travel between the State and another state.

This subsection shall not limit freedom to obtain or make available, in the State, subject to such conditions as may be laid down by law, information relating to services lawfully available in another state. Ir. Const., 1937, art 40.3.3

 

I don’t know if what I’m going to say will make sense to the people reading this, but that is not a law. It doesn’t say anything. Since it is in the Irish Constitution, I had assumed that there were further statutes that made sense of it. But I couldn’t find them and neither could the people who helped me research this. Read that paragraph I put in bold carefully. Does it tell anyone in the medical profession what they may or may not do?

There may be (hopefully there are) legal definitions of the terms this statement uses in other places in Irish law. There may be (hopefully there are) codifications and further statutes making sense of this. All I know is that when I researched Irish abortion law and case law about giving information about abortion and going to other states to obtain an abortion, this is what I was given.

How, based on this, is a doctor supposed to know what they may or may not do under Irish law to save a pregnant woman’s life? For that matter, how will they know what they may do to save the baby’s life? It ties their hands with confusion in either instance.

How are doctors supposed to “respect” the “equal right to life” of both the baby and the mother? What, in legal terms and in medical terms does “respect” mean? For that matter, what do “right to life” and “vindicate” mean?

I’m not nit-picking. Laws are built with words and words have meanings. For laws to be enforceable, the definitions of their words must be public and agreed upon.

Unless there are further codifications I don’t know about, or these things are legal terms of art in Ireland, this law is meaningless. It’s a statement. It’s a little speech. It gives some sort of vague intent. But it has no meaning.

That makes it a set-up for selective prosecution. By that I mean that if this truly is all there is to it, this law puts the entire decision as to what is or is not acceptable medical practice in dire situations concerning a pregnant woman in the hands of the prosecutor. Since this law means pretty much what anybody reading it wants it to mean, prosecutors can use it to punish doctors or let them off, depending on whatever motivation the prosecutor might have.

I have no idea what, specifically, the medical person meant with the comment, “this is a Catholic country.” For all I know, it may be have been some sort of personal religious statement. Or, it may have meant something else.

But the law reads like Irish politicians bent too far in trying to put theology into statute. Theology is, by its nature, vague and hypothetical. Law must be, by it’s nature, definite and immediately applicable to real-world situations.

I have looked at the Catholic Church’s teachings on this and come to the conclusion that I can not write a law that incorporates Catholic teaching directly into the statute. A law which allows abortion to save the life of the mother has to say just that. I am perfectly willing to stand on that opinion in the face of what comes.

If someone wants to argue with me about it, my answer has been and will continue to be the same. Give me the language. If you can come up with the language, I’ll support it. But I can’t figure out how to write a law any other way than with direct and clear language that has universally understood meaning.

I am a determined advocate for the Church’s right to be the Church without government interference. But I also believe that laws are not theology and, while theology can and should inform good law, the two do not mix in a direct way.

What I mean by that is that I don’t plan to copy the Catechism directly into the statutes and I will not vote for bills that attempt to do so. A law that says “Thou shalt not kill” is a vague, unenforceable statute. Murder is a legal term with definitions, penalties and clear-cut understanding both by the courts and by law enforcement. My opinion that murder should be a crime punishable by law is clearly informed by “Thou shalt not kill,” but you won’t see me putting those words into statute.

We can not write statutes concerning abortion any less carefully than we write any other statute. There is no place in law for statements of intent that are not followed by clear-cut statutory language afterwards. I thought at first that since this is the Irish Constitution there might be statutory language out there amplifying it. There may be such language, but I couldn’t find it. All I found was case law.

I’m going to close down this little discussion of the legal situation that I think led to the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar with a strong caveat. I went through what was available to me concerning Irish law on abortion. I also had expert help in my search. But Ireland is another country and I am not familiar with how they do things. What I’m trying to say is, I may be wrong. There may be better laws out there in Ireland that I didn’t find. If I am wrong, just tell me, and I’ll re-write this.

However, I do feel that this tragic death is a problem with Irish law in some way. Bad laws kill people. Writing a good law can take courage. I am overstepping and I know it when I say this, but I think Irish politicians need to re-think their laws concerning abortion. I am not advocating that they legalize abortion. Rather, I think they should write their laws in such a way that it’s possible for people to understand and follow them.

Pope Benedict: All Christians Must Work Together to Evangelize the World

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2012 / 12:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians must not allow their divisions to keep them from working together to evangelize a world enduring a “crisis of faith,” Pope Benedict XVI told the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

The failure to do so, he said, “goes against the will of Christ, and is a scandal in the world.”

The council, which is meeting Nov. 15 –19, will address the theme of “The Importance of Ecumenism for New Evangelization.” The theme dovetails with the topic of overcoming Christian divisions, which was widely-discussed topic at last month’s synod of bishops on the New Evangelization.

Speaking in the Clementine Room of the Apostolic Palace on Nov. 15, the Pope stressed the necessity of having theological dialogue with Christians who do not hold the Catholic faith, in order to give a credible witness to Christ in a world suffering a crisis of faith and spiritual poverty.

“Even if we do not see the possibility of the restoration of full communion in the near future, (other faiths) enable us to understand the wealth of experience, spiritual life and theological reflections that become a stimulus for a deeper testimony,” the Pope said.

The aim of ecumenism is a “visible unity between divided Christians,” he told the assembly, and the Lord must be invoked to make even an imperfect unity possible.

And even if Christians’ unity is imperfect, it is still needed to evangelize a culture gone awry, especially in the Western world.

“We cannot follow a truly ecumenical path while ignoring the crisis of faith affecting vast areas of the world, including those where the proclamation of the Gospel was first accepted and where Christian life has flourished for centuries,” he told council members.

The situation has grown so bad that many people no longer regard the absence of God in their lives as a vacuum to be filled. This presents a situation all Christians must address, discovering common ground that overcomes their denominational divisions.

The essential unity of Christians needs to be emphasized in order to bear witness to God before the world. This, he said, consists in faith in the Trinity – a faith received at baptism which all Christians can profess together “in hope and charity.”

A truly ecumenical spirit, the Pope noted toward the end of his remarks, demands abandonment to the will of God in order to bring others to belief in him.

“In the final analysis,” Pope Benedict concluded, “ecumenism and new evangelization both require the dynamism of conversion, understood as the sincere desire to follow Christ and to fully adhere to the will of the Father.” (Read more here.)

Christian Workers Save Trafficked Girls in India

Christianity in India is growing most rapidly among the Dalits, or the so-called Untouchables. 

Even though caste discrimination is illegal in India, Dalits are, according to a July CNA article, still viewed as “impure and essentially worthless.” Dalit women suffer the worst, since they are discriminated against both as Untouchables and also for being women. Dalit girls are often victims of prostitution and human trafficking.

The radical message of Christianity that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God has the power to transform people who have been treated like human garbage all their lives. According to the article, it is doing that now among the Untouchables of India.

The CNA article describing one Christian mission to Dalit girls says in part:

Bangalore, India, Jul 12, 2012 / 04:07 am (CNA).- A human rights group in India says Christianity has brought slow but lasting change to the country’s Dalits or “untouchables,” especially for the community’s women who are often victims of prostitution and human trafficking.

“The Dalits are told that they are less than animals and we tell them they are not,” non-profit director Jeevaline Kumar told CNA, “because they are made in the likeness of God.”

Kumar – who heads up Operation Mobilisation’s Anti-Human Trafficking Project in Bangalore, Karnataka – explained that the simple message that every person created in God’s image has transformed the lives of India’s Dalits.

“They are crying out for a change now that they know they can live differently,” she said.

At roughly 250 million people, Dalits make up close to one quarter of the country’s 1.2 billion member population but, according to the caste system, are seen as inherently impure and worthless.

“It is not normal in our world for how these people are treated,” Kumar said.

Although caste discrimination, not the caste system itself, was technically outlawed in 1950 after India won its independence from Great Britain, law enforcement is still lacking.

Dalit women bear the brunt of caste discrimination, Kumar added, since women are looked upon even more unfavorably in Indian culture as they will need to be married off at the expense of their parents.

“The women are the Dalits of the Dalits,” Kumar said, explaining that many of them are forced into lives of prostitution, cleaning human waste or being aborted as soon as their gender is learned.

Prostitution, either in a brothel or as a temple “devadasi,” is among one of the greatest risks that threaten Dalit girls and women.

Even though the caste system teaches that they are impure, Kumar said that “when it comes to sex, no one thinks of them as untouchable.”

Three million people in India are forced into lives of sex-trafficking, 1.2 million of whom are children and 250,000 of whom are enslaved for “ritualized temple prostitution,”According to the Dalit Freedom Network.

“A little help can change the lives of these girls,” she said.

Her organization, which is just “one of many that works towards the same goal,” is striving to promote the message that “there is value in every human being” by responding to “Jesus’ mandate” to “love thy neighbor.”

Her work with the Tarika Institute, a school that trains women who have rescued from prostitution in tailoring, spoken English and computer skills, has been especially inspiring, she said.

“I have known God like never before after I got involved in acts of justice,” she said. “It really brings meaning and fulfillment in anyone’s life.” (Read more here.)

Dorothy Day’s Pro Life Witness Demonstrates God’s Mercy

Dorothy Day

Public Catholic reader Manny, who has his own blog at J’s Cafe Nette posted a link to this article in the comments on my earlier post, Dorothy Day: The Woman Who Loved Much. I like Manny’s link so much I decided to put it here.

Dorothy Day’s abortion and subsequent conversion and life of sacrifice for human life and dignity are a remarkable are a powerful reminder to women who are abortion survivors that nothing … nothing … is greater than God’s all-encompassing mercy which comes to us through the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The article Manny linked to and others like it can be found at The Catholic Resource Center.  Please pay them a visit and see what they have.

Here is the article in full:

Dorothy Day’s Pro-Life Memories

DAN LYNCH

I wish every woman who has ever suffered an abortion would come to know Dorothy Day. Her story was so typical. Made pregnant by a man who insisted she have an abortion, who then abandoned her anyway, she suffered terribly for what she had done, and later pleaded with others not to do the same.

Dorothy Day

“But later, too, after becoming a Catholic, she learned the love and mercy of the Lord, and knew she never had to worry about His forgiveness. [This is why I have never condemned a woman who has had an abortion; I weep with her and ask her to remember Dorothy Day's sorrow but to know always God's loving mercy and forgiveness.] She had died before I became Archbishop of New York, or I would have called on her immediately upon my arrival. Few people have had such an impact on my life, even though we never met.”

Thus spoke the late Cardinal John J. O’Connor. The remainder of this article substantially contains Dorothy Day’s actual words as edited and sometimes paraphrased by Dan Lynch. The information concerning her abortion was obtained from her biographers and her autobiographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin. Dorothy never publicly wrote or spoke about her abortion. Her writings may be found at CatholicWorker.org.

Dorothy Day: I hobbled down the darkened stairwell of the Upper East Side flat in New York City. My steps were unsteady. My left arm held the banister tightly. My right arm clutched my abdomen. It was burning in pain. I walked out onto the street alone in the dark. It was in September of 1919. I was twenty-one years old and I had just aborted my baby.

Lionel, my boyfriend, promised to pick me up at the flat after it was all over. I waited in pain from nine a.m. to ten p.m. but he never came. When I got home to his apartment I found only a note. He said he had left for a new job and, regarding my abortion, that I “was only one of God knows how many millions of women who go through the same thing. Don’t build up any hopes. It is best, in fact, that you forget me.”

I wrote about this experience in my autobiographical novel, The Eleventh Virgin. In my youth I had thought that the greatest gift that life could offer would be a faith in God and a hereafter. But then there were too many people passing through my life, — too many activities — too much pleasure (not happiness). The life of the flesh called to me as a good and wholesome life, regardless of God’s laws. What was good and what was evil? It is easy enough to stifle conscience for a time. The satisfied flesh has its own law. How much time I wasted during those years! I had fallen a long way from my youthful ideals. When I was fifteen I wrote, “I am working always, always on guard, praying without ceasing to overcome all physical sensations and be purely spiritual.”

But these “physical sensations” allured me. I lived a social-activist Bohemian lifestyle in Greenwich Village, New York City. I think back and remember myself, hurrying along from party to party, and all the friends, and the drinking, and the talk, and the crushes, and falling in love. I fell in love with a newspaperman named Lionel Moise. I got pregnant. He said that if I had the baby, he would leave me. I wanted the baby but I wanted Lionel more. So I had the abortion and I lost them both.

I later wrote in my autobiography,The Long Loneliness, “For a long time [after my abortion] I had thought I could not bear a child, and the longing in my heart for a baby had been growing.”

In 1924 I started a “live-in” relationship with Forster Batterham, an atheist and an anarchist. He believed in nothing except personal freedom to do as you please. We took up residence in a beach bungalow on Staten Island, New York. We foreshadowed the hippies of the sixties and lived a carefree lifestyle living off the land and sea — gardening, fishing and claming. I thought that we would be contributing to the misery of the world if we failed to rejoice in the sun, the moon, and the stars, in the rivers which surrounded the island on which we lived and in the cool breezes of the bay. Like Dostoevsky, I began to believe that the world would be saved by beauty. It was this beautiful, natural world that slowly led me back to God. “How can there be no God,” I asked Forster, “when there are all these beautiful things?”

However, I felt that my home was not a home without a child. For a long time I had thought that I could not have a child. No matter how much one is loved or one loves, that love is lonely without a child. It is incomplete. Soon I became pregnant again. I saw this as a miracle from God because I thought that He had left me barren after the abortion. I wrote in a letter to a friend, “I always rather expected an ugly grotesque thing which only I could love; expecting perhaps to see my sins in the child.”

On the contrary, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter, Tamar Teresa, on March 4, 1926. I remembered that the labor pains swept over me like waves in the beautiful rhythm of the sea. When I became bored and impatient with the steady restlessness of those waves of pain, I thought of all the other and more futile kinds of pain I would rather not have had. Toothaches, earaches, and broken arms. I had had them all. And this was a much more satisfactory and accomplishing pain, I comforted myself.

I thought about famous men who wrote about childbirth such as Tolstoy and O’Neill and I thought, “What do they know about it, the idiots.” It gave me pleasure to imagine one of them in the throes of childbirth. How they would groan and holler and rebel. And wouldn’t they make everybody else miserable around them. And there I was, conducting a neat and tidy job.

The waves of pain became tidal waves. Earthquake and fire swept my body. Through the rush and roar of the cataclysm that was all about me, I heard the murmur of the doctor and the answered murmur of the nurse at my head. In a white blaze of thankfulness I heard faint about the clamor in my ears, a peculiar squawk. They handed my baby to me. I placed her on my full breast where she mouthed around, too lazy to tug for food. I thought, “What do you want, little bird? That it should run into your mouth, I suppose. But no, you must work for your provender already!”

No matter how cynically or casually the worldly may treat the birth of a child, it remains spiritually and physically a tremendous event. God pity the woman who does not feel the fear, the awe, and the joy of bringing a child into the world.

I was filled with awe of my baby’s new life and in gratitude to God I wanted her to be baptized in the Catholic Church. I did not want my child to flounder as I had often floundered. I wanted to believe, and I wanted my child to believe, and if belonging to the Church would give her so inestimable a grace as faith in God, and the companionable love of the Saints then the thing to do was to have her baptized a Catholic. This was the final straw for Forster who wanted nothing to do with any commitments or what he termed as my “absorption in the supernatural”.

I knew that I was going to have my child baptized a Catholic, cost what it may. I knew I was not going to have her floundering as I had done, doubting and hesitating, undisciplined and amoral. I felt it was the greatest thing I could do for my child.

So Tamar was baptized in June. For myself, I prayed for the gift of faith. I was sure, yet not sure. I postponed the day of decision. To become a Catholic meant for me to give up a mate with whom I was much in love. It got to the point where it was the simple question of whether I chose God or man. I chose God and I lost Forster. I was baptized on the Feast of The Holy Innocents, December 28, 1927. It was something I had to do. I was tired of following the devices and desires of my own heart, of doing what I wanted to do, what my desires told me to do, which always seemed to lead me astray. The cost was the loss of the man I loved, but it paid for the salvation of my child and myself.

I painfully described this loss in The Long Loneliness: “For a woman who had known the joys of marriage, yes, it was hard. It was years before I awakened without that longing for a face pressed against my breast, an arm around my shoulder. The sense of loss was there. It was a price I had paid. I was Abraham who had sacrificed Isaac. And yet I had Isaac, I had Tamar.”

I always had a great regret for my abortion. In fact, I tried to cover it up and to destroy as many copies of The Eleventh Virgin as I could find. But my priest chided me and said, “You can’t have much faith in God if you’re taking the life given to you and using it that way. God is the one who forgives us if we ask, and it sounds like you don’t even want forgiveness — just to get rid of the books.” I never forgot what the priest pointed out — the vanity or pride at work in my heart. Since that time I wasn’t as worried as I had been. If you believe in the mission of Jesus Christ, then you’re bound to try to let go of your past, in the sense that you are entitled to His forgiveness. To keep regretting what was, is to deny God’s grace.

After my conversion, I struggled to support my child as a single parent working as a free-lance writer. In December 1932 I was in Washington D.C. covering the Hunger March of the Unemployed. Watching the ragged men marching moved my sense of social justice and I was inspired to go to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pray. I cried out to God in anguish that some way would open up for me to use what talents I possessed for my fellow workers, for the poor.

When I returned to New York, I found waiting for me an unkempt man with fire in his eyes. Immediately he began preaching to me in a thick French accent his grand vision for social justice. His name was Peter Maurin and together we founded the Catholic Worker Movement.

We opened houses of hospitality for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, and for abused women and pregnant mothers. We practiced the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. One day thirty year old Elizabeth came to us at the end of her pregnancy. Her husband was a drug addict. It was New Year’s Eve, the eve of the Feast of the Holy Family. He came to our house drugged and sat at supper asleep while his wife fed him.

I called the ambulance but he refused their help. He muttered, “She’s my wife. She has to stick to me. She has to take care of me.” Oh, I thought, The distortion of the idea of the Holy Family. She has to take care of him and she’s about to bear his child! But we had a little bed ready for the baby, and a box of pretty garments, and she was happy as she looked at them, and there was even gaiety in our midst as we sat around the fire and had a cup of tea in the holiday spirit.

I’ll never forget the time that I had to literally stand up against birth control. My sister Della had worked for Margaret Sanger, foundress of Planned Parenthood. When Della exhorted me that I shouldn’t encourage my daughter Tamar to have so many children, I stood up firmly and walked out of the house whereupon Della ran after me weeping, saying, “Don’t leave me, don’t leave me. We just won’t talk about it again.” To me, birth control and abortion are genocide. I say, make room for children, don’t do away with them. I learned that prevention of conception when the act that one is performing is for the purpose of fusing the two lives more closely and so enrich them that another life springs forth and the aborting of a life conceived are sins that are great frustrations in the natural and spiritual order.

The Sexual Revolution is a complete rebellion against authority, natural and supernatural, even against the body and its needs, its natural functions of child bearing. This is not reverence for life, it is a great denial and more resembles Nihilism than the revolution that they think they are furthering.

Once I asked a man why he signed a petition for the Rosenbergs who had been convicted of treason in the fifties. “It is because I am against capital punishment,” he said. In other words, he, as the rest of us, is in favor of life — life until natural death.

I was happy that I could be with my mother the last few weeks of her life, and for the last ten days at her bedside daily and hourly. Sometimes I thought that it was like being present at a birth to sit by a dying person and see their intentness on what is happening to them. It almost seems that one is absorbed in a struggle, a fearful, grim, physical struggle, to breathe, to swallow, to live. And so, I kept thinking to myself, how necessary it is for one of their loved ones to be beside them, to pray for them, to offer up prayers for them unceasingly, as well as to do all those little offices one can.

When my daughter Tamar was a little tiny girl, she said to me once, “When I get to be a great big woman and you are a little tiny girl, I’ll take care of you.” I thought of that when I had to feed my mother by the spoonful and urged her to eat her custard. Shortly before she died I told her, “We can no more imagine life beyond the grave than a blind man can imagine colors.” How good God was to me, to let me be there. I was there, holding her hand, and she just turned her head and sighed. That was her last breath, that little sigh; and her hand was warm in mine for a long time after.

[End of paraphrased article]

End Notes

Dorothy Day is the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement. She is a model pro-life lay witness and intercessor. She was chosen as the 20th century’s most outstanding lay Catholic. Cardinal John O’Connor of New York introduced the cause for her canonization and said, “It is with great joy that I announce the approval of the Holy See for the Archdiocese of New York to open the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Dorothy Day. With this approval comes the title Servant of God. What a gift to the Church in New York and to the Church Universal this is!”

Dorothy Day, Servant of God, pray for us — for us who labor for a culture of life and a civilization of love, for the unborn, for the mothers in crisis pregnancies, for mothers who have suffered from abortions, for the poor and for the dying.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Dan Lynch. “Dorothy Day’s Pro-Life Memories.” Catholic Exchange (September 24, 2002).

Reprinted with permission of the author.

THE AUTHOR

If you would like to order Entertaining Angels, the video tape of her life, Call toll-free 1-888-834-6261 or Write to The Missionary Image at 144 Sheldon Road, St. Albans, Vermont 05478.

Dan Lynch is director of The Apostolates of The Missionary Image and Jesus King of All Nationsand board member of The Association for the Arch of Triumph. He is leading a pilgrimage cruise the Blessed Mother’s house in Ephesus and to Holy Greece and Turkey in May, 2003. Please visit his website for more information.

Copyright 2002 Dan Lynch

Dorothy Day: The Woman Who Loved Much

Her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has loved much. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.  Luke 7:47

Dorothy Day sets off controversy, even after her death.

She followed Christ as He called her, often to the discomfort and dismay of other Christians who sought a less radical Way. Does that sound familiar? If you spend much time reading biographies of the saints, it should.

The saints weren’t often people’s people. They were too busy being God’s people. The saints are also often converted sinners who had fallen into the muck and mire of their times and taken a good bath there. It seems that God often makes His saints from the worst sinners. It’s as if He can do the most with these edgy people from the pits of life; people who know that evil is real and who see by contrast that God and His love are the only solution to the evil they have known.

Dorothy Day was a converted sinner. She took her turn at living life in the fast lane of the early 20th Century. She ran with the crowd and followed its ways up to and including having an abortion. Then, as people have been doing for 2,000 years, she found Jesus, or, I would imagine, she let Him find her. And that made all the difference.

Dorothy Day lived her life for Christ after that. She founded a ministry to the poor called Catholic Worker Houses. She published a great deal in support of this ministry and did not step back from the requirement of living alongside the people she was trying to help.

Her wary attitude towards government and stubborn pacifism did not always sit well with people in the depression-ridden, war-bound years of the 1930s and 40s. It found even less support during the Cold War years that followed. I suspect Dorothy Day seemed an embarrassment, an unrealistic fanatic, to a good many of the good, church-going people of her day.

It is only now that she begins to make sense. Corporatism is beginning to take a deep toll on the lives of Americans. We have morphed into a country that is continuously at war with an ever-changing cast of enemies.  The over-weaning power of government has begun to focus on active legal persecution of the Church itself. These are our times. It appears that Dorothy Day, the uncomfortable convert, is beginning to seem less like a nutty fanatic and more like a prophet for our days.

It is in that prophetic role that she continues to set off controversy. Her life is a flashpoint of disagreement for a lot of people today, just as it was in the past. Some people try to cast Dorothy Day as “their” saint, as an apologist for their personal politics. Other people attempt to disregard her and disown her because they see her life as an attack on their personal politics.

But if Dorothy Day was a living saint, then neither of these reactions apply. Saints live their lives in the service of God, not partisan politics. They don’t try to be popular with people. They set their sights on the narrow way and they walk it all the way home.

The American bishops recently cast a unanimous vote in support of the cause of declaring Dorothy Day a saint. There are a lot of potholes in the road ahead of them in this cause. Most saints are undeclared and unofficial. That’s because, hard as it is to be one, it’s even harder to be officially declared one.

For myself, I have no doubt that Dorothy Day is in heaven. I have no doubt that she lived her life for Jesus and that she was a woman of great courage. Dorothy Day was one of God’s warriors in the battle for life and human dignity. Despite, or maybe because, of her rough beginning, she was one of His best works.

Deacon Greg Kandra, who blogs at The Deacon’s Bench, has an interesting article about the new push by American bishops for the cause of sainthood for Dorothy Day.  It reads in part:

Dolan on Day: “I’m convinced she is a saint for our time”
November 27, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra

The New York Times takes a look at the latest efforts to promote the sainthood cause of Dorothy Day:
Dorothy Day is a hero of the Catholic left, a fiery 20th-century social activist who protested war, supported labor strikes and lived voluntarily in poverty as she cared for the needy.
But Day has found a seemingly unlikely champion in New York’s conservative archbishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, who has breathed new life into an effort to declare the Brooklyn native a saint.
Cardinal Dolan has embraced her cause with striking zeal: speaking on the anniversaries of her birth and death, distributing Dorothy Day prayer cards to parishes and even buying roughly 100 copies of her biography to give out last year as Christmas gifts to civic officials including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
This month, at Cardinal Dolan’s recommendation, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted unanimously to move forward with her canonization cause, even though, as some of the bishops noted, she had an abortion as a young woman and at one point flirted with joining the Communist Party.
“I am convinced she is a saint for our time,” Cardinal Dolan said at the bishops’ meeting. She exemplifies, he said, “what’s best in Catholic life, that ability we have to be ‘both-and’ not ‘either-or.’ ”
As someone who was both committed to social justice and loyal to church teachings, Day bridges wings of the contemporary church in a way that few American Catholic figures can.
Day, born in 1897 to a nonobservant Protestant family, dropped out of the University of Illinois and moved to New York to work as a journalist for leftist publications in the bohemian literary world of downtown Manhattan. She converted to Catholicism in 1927, citing a spiritual awakening that was accelerated by the joy that she felt upon the birth of a daughter, Tamar. She said she chose Catholicism for many reasons — partly because it was the religion of so many of the workers and poor people whose cause she fought for as a socialist writer, and partly because she had lived in Chicago with Catholic roommates whose faith had deeply impressed her.
She spent decades as a passionate lay Catholic, devoting her life to the principles of social justice, including pacifism and service to the poor, that she felt were at the root of her religion’s teachings.
Though she was traditional in her religious practices and strong in her love for the church, her relationship with the church hierarchy in her lifetime was not always smooth. Not a single Catholic bishop came to her funeral in 1980, according to Robert Ellsberg, the editor of her letters and diaries. (Read more here.)

Do You Want Your Son or Husband Taking This?

Do you want your son or husband taking this?

The question refers to a new development in the search for a birth control pill for men which was described in a recent article in Nature magazine. Among the known side effects are temporary shrinkage of the testes.

My answer, for those who may be curious, is absolutely not. I do not want my son or husband taking this drug. I’m sure a lot of other people will feel the same way, including many men who won’t want to take it themselves.

My next question is why do we think it’s ok to dose young women with hormones and subject them to the insertion of painful contraceptive devices? Why are blood clots, high blood pressure, cramping, mood swings, weight gain, migraines, the possible permanent loss of fertility and liver spots acceptable risks for our young women?

Maybe we should give a little thought to both the dangers and the inherent misogyny in our current attitudes toward birth control.

This article, from the August 2012 issue of Nature magazine describe the development of the new male birth control pill I’m talking about. It says in part:

The discovery of a hormone-free way to immobilize
sperm in mice could lead to the development of oral
contraceptives for men.ROBERT
BROCKSMITH/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

 

Developing oral contraceptives for men has not gone as swiftly as researchers imagined in the early 1970s, who suggested at the time that a ‘male pill’ was not far off1. But today researchers report a new way to make male mice temporarily infertile.

Although the treatment is not ready for human use, the method avoids some of the pitfalls of earlier attempts, says Diana Blithe, programme director for contraceptive development at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the study. Blithe is excited by the findings: “The field has a number of leads,” she says, “and this is among the most promising.”

The technique, which is reported today in the journal Cell, appears to have a much more specific action than previous methods: it impairs sperm production by blocking a protein called BRDT. This protein was singled out as a potential therapeutic target five years ago because it only occurs in the testes, where it is required for the division of sperm cells.

If the approach proves safe in humans, it would be an improvement over hormone-based methods of male contraception, which are not completely effective and cause side effects such as mood swings, acne and a loss of libido.

These typically employ progesterone and testosterone. The progesterone limits sperm production, but it also impairs other ‘male’ features, such a high muscle mass and the ability to get erections, which a limited amount of therapeutic testoterone then restores.

“The best thing is that we did not affect hormone levels,” says study author Martin Matzuk, a reproductive biologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.

Teeny testes

In their experiments, Matzuk and his colleagues injected a BRDT-blocking compound into male mice. This shrank the mice’s testes and reduced their sperm count, and any sperm they did produce were immobile.

When given high doses of the inhibitor, the mice continued to mate with females but sired no offspring. Within a few months of stopping the treatment, the male mice could successfully impregnate females once more.

Matzuk’s team have begun the task of using these findings in the design of a male pill, as they try to pin down more molecular details of how the potential therapy works.

Developing oral contraceptives for men has not gone as swiftly as researchers imagined in the early 1970s, who suggested at the time that a ‘male pill’ was not far off. But today researchers report a new way to make male mice temporarily infertile.

Although the treatment is not ready for human use, the method avoids some of the pitfalls of earlier attempts, says Diana Blithe, programme director for contraceptive development at the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, who was not involved in the study. Blithe is excited by the findings: “The field has a number of leads,” she says, “and this is among the most promising.”  (Read more here.)

 

Killing Women in the Name of Reproductive Health

The IUD is making a come-back.

Thirty years after lawsuits concerning deaths, hospitalizations and infections from IUDs forced pharmaceutical companies into bankruptcy, the dangerous contraceptive crowd is back, pushing them at women again.

I just read an interesting 1974 CDC article assessing the risk of IUDs to women back then. The article was written early-on in the debate about the dangers of the devices. One statement stood out for me. The article blandly discusses deaths caused by the IUD and goes on to comment that the numbers were still insufficient to be statistically significant.

Excuse me, CDC. But you weren’t talking about a drug for cancer where the risk that some people with a terminal disease would die of drug complications might outweigh the good of other people living who wouldn’t otherwise. The IUD is an entirely unnecessary, totally elective form of contraception. If no one uses it, no one dies. Given that, even one death, one infection, one hospitalization or “loss of subsequent fertility” is far too many.

This easy acceptance of the idea that it’s ok to risk women’s lives with contraceptives is misogynist. Can you imagine any device that would cause men to cramp in their most intimate areas, give them infections in those areas, maybe make them sterile, or even kill them being bandied about so easily?

Can you imagine whole troops of politicians and medical practitioners calling this an advance in “men’s health” and bemoaning the fact that there aren’t more men willing to avail themselves of all this goodness?

Of course not. The thought itself is ludicrous. But when we do it to women, why, nobody even questions it.

IUDs are part of “women’s health.” The population control people have historically pushed IUDs in what we like to call Third World Countries, meaning, of course, people we patronize and manipulate without any requirements for responsibility or concern for their welfare.

If the misogynists in our medical/political professions don’t mind endangering women in the United States who have access to malpractice lawyers, then we have to assume that they really don’t mind endangering women in “Third World Countries” who can’t fight back. That’s how it seems and also how it plays out in real life.

That’s why we hear bizarre statements about how women in America are finally “catching up” with women in Mexico in their use of IUDs. Our population control people have been dumping these devices on women in Mexico for some time now. They’ve been the lab rats to see if the numbers of women who are injured by the devices will rise to the level of statistical significance.

We’ve turned some sort of corner regarding the use of hormones and devices to shut down women’s fertility. There was a time when we had an actual women’s rights movement who stood up and argued against these things. But now, the women’s rights movement is nothing but the abortion movement. It is so aligned with population control people, pornographers, gay rights advocates and the pro deathers, that it can not and will not speak out against the misogynistic practice of pushing dangerous birth control on unsuspecting women.

We have reached a time when the President of the United States is able to successfully market abortion and free contraceptives as women’s rights and the women’s rights movement supports him in doing this. No wonder the people who push dangerous birth control devices feel free to once again begin exploiting and endangering American women just has they do women in “Third World Countries.”

Between “lawsuit reform” from the right and the idea that women’s rights is nothing more than abortion and birth control from the left, it’s an open field day on American women once again.

LifeSiteNews published an interesting article about the growth of IUD use among American women. It reads in part:

 

November 20, 2012 (pop.org) – A growing number of American women are turning to intrauterine devices (IUDs), reports Lawrence Finer of the Guttmacher Institute. Of all American women using birth control, some 7.5 percent had IUDs implanted by 2009. These numbers were double what they had been a few short years before.

As befits an employee of a population control organization, Finer is pleased that women are choosing “long-acting” contraceptives over “short-acting, less effective methods.” Fertility delayed is fertility denied, as we say in demographic circles.

Most of the increase in IUD use has come from sales of Bayer’s levonorgestrel IUD, a so-called “second generation” contraceptive, which is marketed under the trade name “Mirena.” No surprise here. Since Mirena was approved by the FDA in 2000, Bayer has spent tens of millions of dollars advertising the IUD directly to the consumer.

The Mirena IUD can prevent conception, but it can also prevent a newly conceived embryo from implanting in the uterine wall.

As a result of this advertising campaign, Finer notes, “Women born in the United States appear to be ‘catching up’ to women born outside the United States, who already had a higher level of use, likely due to a greater prevalence of these methods in Mexico.”

The implication here is that women outside of the U.S. are more “advanced” in their contraceptive use than their benighted American sisters, but nothing could be further from the truth. The reason that IUDs are more prevalent in Mexico is simple: the Mexican government coerces women into accepting them. Either accept an IUD or have your tubes tied, new mothers are told. What would you choose?

The same is true of Finer’s factoid about high IUD use in China. The reason that 41 percent of women in China have IUDs is because China’s population control authorities insist that women either wear IUDs or be sterilized after they give birth. That’s not good news for women. Indeed, it’s not good news for anybody, unless of course you fear human fertility.

Bayer’s advertising campaign for Mirena, although expensive, has more than paid for itself. More than a million American women have been convinced to spend nearly $800 apiece buying the IUD. This has generated over a billion dollars in revenue for the German pharmaceutical giant, a good bargain by anyone’s calculation.

Bayer and other abortifacient contraceptive manufacturers also stand to make a lot of money from Obamacare. The HHS mandate will require all healthcare plans to cover the full range of contraceptive methods, including Mirena, at no cost to the patient. In other words, we taxpayers are about to make Bayer shareholders rich.

Finer refers to IUDs, including Mirena, as “contraceptive devices,” but IUDs act by aborting already conceived children, not by preventing their conception. An IUD is, in effect, a tiny abortion machine that prevents pregnancy by physically obstructing the normal process by which a tiny baby implants in the uterus of its mother.

Mirena, it is true, is more than just an IUD. It also contains a synthetic “hormone” called levonorgestrel that some months prevents ovulation. Even when what is called “breakthrough ovulation” occurs, the progestin sometimes still prevents conception by thickening the cervical mucus and preventing sperm from reaching the ovum. Still, when this doesn’t happen, a baby can be conceived and begin its 5 to 7 day journey down the Fallopian tube. But when it reaches the uterus itself it encounters the grim reaper in the guise of an IUD and its life is over. An early-term abortion occurs.

We should not forget the side effects, which fall into two different categories. Many women react badly to having their bodies laced with a powerful, steroid-based drug, levonorgestrel. Others find that having a foreign body lodged in their uterus can be an uncomfortable, even unhealthy, experience.

Finer claimed in an interview with Fox News that IUDs do not increase the risk of pelvic infection and jeopardize women’s future fertility.

But the list of unwanted side effects of Mirena is quite long. These include amenorrhea, intermenstrual bleeding and spotting, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, ovarian cysts, headache, migraines, acne, depression, and mood swings. The Truth About Mirena website contains hundreds of detailed accounts of such side effects by women who have personally suffered from them. It makes for grim reading.

One of the more dangerous side effects is that Mirena may become embedded into the wall of the uterus, or it may actually perforate it. In fact, there have been reports of the IUD actually migrating outside the uterus through a hole of its own making, there to cause scarring, infection, or damage to other organs. If the device embeds in or perforates the uterine wall, surgery will be required to remove it.

With all of these side effects, it is no surprise that the number of lawsuits is proliferating. If you type “Mirena” into your search engine, along with information about the IUD, a number of ads offering legal representation to those harmed by the device will pop up.

In the beginning, Bayer aggressively marketed Mirena to a “Busy Mom” demographic as a hassle-free form of birth control. But in 2009, the FDA issued a warning letter to Bayer after finding its Mirena promotions overstated the efficacy of the device, presented unsubstantiated claims, minimized the risks of Mirena, and used false and misleading presentations during in-home events touting the IUD. FDA berated Bayer for its so-called “overstatement of efficacy”, taking issue with marketing claims touting Mirena’s purported ability to improve a woman’s sex life and help her “look and feel great.” (Read more here.)


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