Bishop's Blog

"The Un-truth of Violence"

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

I grew up marveling at the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi and have reflected many times on words such as:

Let our first act every morning be this resolve:
I shall not fear anyone on earth.
I shall fear only God.
I shall not bear ill-will towards anyone.
I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
I shall conquer un-truth by truth,
and in resisting un-truth,
I shall put up with suffering.

These words prompt me to challenge Amnesty International (AI), one of the world’s best known human rights advocacy groups, which has proposed actively fighting against the right to life for unborn children by using its resources to promote a so-called "right to abortion."

For many years, to its credit, AI has opposed forced contraception, forced sterilization and forced abortion but now, regrettably, it feels obliged in the interest of stopping violence against women. It is intent upon addressing values, beliefs and attitudes that directly or indirectly support violence against women. This is code language for women’s human rights (abortion); HIV/AIDS; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

AI is currently consulting its worldwide membership on a possible new policy on sexual and reproductive rights. The Canadian, British, and New Zealand branches of AI have already voted to support abortion.

AI’s plan is to decide by the end of August 2007 on adopting a position on three aspects of abortion: “decriminalization of abortion”; “access to quality services for the management of complications arising from abortion”; and “legal, safe and accessible abortion in cases of rape, sexual assault, incest, and risk to a woman’s life.”

Such a move is an ill-conceived proposal and a gross betrayal of Amnesty’s mission to campaign for human rights. AI’s founding vision was of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

In the interests of being politically correct, has AI now lost sight of “Article 3. - Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person?” The defense of the inalienable right to life of the unborn is a civil rights issue, arguably the greatest civil rights issue of our time.

That the unborn child is a human being from the moment of conception is a fact that we know by logic and biological evidence. Nothing that will be a human being is ever anything other than a human being.

These logical truths are amply confirmed by modern science, which have demonstrated beyond dispute that every human being, from the moment of conception, is an unique human genetic package. If we exclude natural disaster or lethal intervention, the product of human conception will be what every sane person recognizes as a human being; it will not be a goldfish or beagle.

No combination of circumstances, intentions or consequences can ever justify the taking of an innocent human life. The direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral.

It is the height of stupidity that to suggest that in the name of stopping the violence against women, AI should adopt a policy that will lead to further violent destruction of female children in the wombs of their mothers.

Since part of AI's mission is to undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of rights, a logical move on the part of AI would be to seek to change contemporary culture so that every child is protected in law and welcomed in life.

Violence is the most clear sign of our personal and societal failures.

We cannot ignore the underlying cultural values that help to create the environment where violence grows: a denial of right and wrong, an abandonment of personal responsibility, an excessive focus on our selfish desires, a diminishing sense of obligation to our children and neighbours, a misplaced priority on acquisitions, and media glorification of violence and sexual irresponsibility. In short, we often fail to value life and cherish human beings above possessions, power and pleasure.

Less obvious and visible is the slow-motion violence of discrimination and poverty, hunger and hopelessness, addiction and self-destructive behaviour. Economic, social and moral forces and issues can tear apart communities and families not as quickly, but just as surely as bullets and knives. Lives sometimes are diminished and threatened not only in our immediate neighbourhood, but also by decisions made in parliaments, boardrooms, and courtrooms. An ethic of respect for life should be the central measure of all our institutions.

Gandhi would remind us: “If one does not practice non-violence in one’s personal relations with others and hopes to use it in bigger affairs, one is vastly mistaken.... In non-violence, the masses have a weapon which enables a child, a woman, or even an ...old (person), to resist the mightiest government successfully. If your spirit is strong, mere lack of physical strength ceases to be a handicap. Non-violence is the summit of bravery.”

Not all violence is deadly. It begins with anger, intolerance, impatience, unfair judgments, and aggression. It is often reflected in our language, our entertainment, our driving, our competitive behaviour and the way we treat our environment. These acts and attitudes are not the same as abusive behaviour or physical attacks, but they create a climate where violence prospers and peace suffers.

"Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal" are more than mere suggestions; they are imperatives for the common good. Violence is an unacceptable evil; a monstrous lie that goes against the truth of our common humanity.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

Related Offices Social Justice Bishop's Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC)
Related Themes Social Justice Life Issues Prolife Marriage Family

Time to Push Back

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Pope Benedict XVI begins his encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, with the words from the First Letter of John: “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.” These words express with remarkable clarity the heart of the Christian faith.

The proclamation of God’s passionate love for the world is what the Church is all about. The Gospel, however, is not a private matter. The Gospel has public implications, because defending the inalienable dignity and infinite value built into human beings by their Creator is a public matter. One way the Gospel has public effects is through the formation of cultures: a culture inspired by a Christian view of the human person will affirm certain kinds of politics as compatible with the dignity of men and women, and it will reject others for their incompatibility with that dignity.

The Church is not in the business of designing or running governments; the Church is in the business of forming the kind of people who can design and run governments in which freedom leads to genuine human flourishing.

Pope Benedict reminds us that: “Justice is both the aim and the intrinsic criterion of all politics. Politics is more than a mere mechanism for defining the rules of public life: its origin and its goal are found in justice, which by its very nature has to do with ethics” (DCE 28). We cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice.

Our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, has said he intends to re-open the debate on same-sex “marriage” this fall.

In July 2005, the Canadian government changed the traditional definition of marriage as “a voluntary union between one man and one woman for life” to a “voluntary union between two persons,” including two men or between two women.

Today, one year later, members of the media claim that society has not been affected, that the sky has not fallen, and that Canadians are not concerned about this change. Some people on the street have similar thoughts: “gay marriage doesn’t affect me ... my life goes on as normal.” And so we are led to believe that legislation should be left alone.

Many people who oppose same sex “marriage” are unaware of the adverse effects already posed by our current legislation. A few of the more more important effects are:

  1. The homosexual lifestyle must now be treated as wholesome and legitimate, when in reality, it is unwholesome and immoral.
  2. The traditional family has its status and necessary privileges questioned.
  3. Freedom of speech is threatened for those who oppose same-sex “marriage” in public.
  4. Civil servants unwilling to cooperate with same sex “marriage’ -- such as marriage commissioners in B.C., Saskatchewan and other provinces -- are dismissed.
  5. Adoption of children by “gays” and lesbians is “legal.”
  6. “Gay” activists have now demanded successfully in B.C. that the curriculum be changed to suit their agenda.

Where are we heading?

  1. The polls confirm that the majority of Canadians do not favour same-sex “marriage” because there is no gender complementarity and it is closed to procreation. It is contrary to the natural law.
  2. The new legislation undermines the legal status of marriage by undermining its unique and exclusive nature. In the last session of government a private members bill called for the recognition and equality of what are called transgendered and transvestite people. Other bills can be expected that clamour for the acceptance of polygamy (more than one wife) and polyandry (more than one husband).
  3. In December 2005 (in Labaye vs. the Attorney General) the Supreme Court ruled that swingers clubs, which include the swapping of partners and public orgies, are perfectly legal. The Justices no longer recognize the existence of “community standards.”
  4. The legal acceptance of so-called same sex ""marriage"" should be seen in the light of many years of agitation for the promotion of the homosexual lifestyle.

Writing on August 16, 2000, in the Chicago Free Press, homosexual activist Paul Varnell stated: “... the gay movement, whether we acknowledge it or not, is not a civil rights movement, not even a sexual liberation movement, but a moral revolution aimed at changing people’s view of homosexuality.”

We now find ourselves confronted by a false way of thinking, which has weakened the moral fabric of our society, and attacked the social primacy of the family. It is time to push back.

  1. Make a commitment to pray every day for the institution of traditional marriage in Canada.
  2. Contact your MP: write a letter; better still, make an appointment to see him or her personally. Communicate the continuing importance of this issue to your elected representatives. Insist that the traditional definition of marriage be re-opened.
  3. Study the teachings of the Church on marriage, consult the Canadian bishops web site, and be faithful to this teaching in your own lives and marriages. Teach and stress it to your children, grandchildren, and friends. Tell others to do the same.

Jesus often repeated this exhortation to the disciples: “In the world you will have fear; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Wishing you all the best, I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

☩ Frederick Henry
Bishop Emeritus

Related Offices Bishop's Life & Family Resource Centre (LFRC)
Related Themes Same Sex Attraction Family Marriage

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