Monday, November 28, 2011

‘Advancing the Culture of Life in Hope and with Obedience’: Address by Cardinal Raymond Burke

Cardinal Raymond Burke gave the keynote address at a Prayer Breakfast that took place in McHenry County, Illinois, U.S.A., at the end of October.  The title of Cardinal Burke’s address was ‘Advancing the Culture of Life in Hope and with Obedience’, and he started off by honouring Bishop Thomas Doran, Bishop of Rockford, on the upcoming fiftieth anniversary of his priestly ordination.   The Cardinal quoted from Bishop Doran’s book At the Crossroads: A Vision of Hope:

We accept things in contemporary society that we know in the depths of our being are terribly, terribly wrong, and we do not want to talk about them.  If a child is inconvenient before it is born, kill him, kill her, but do not call it killing, call it abortion.  If a person lives beyond the years when the doctor and society consider that person to be useful, kill him, kill her, but do not call it killing, call it euthanasia.

Cardinal Burke continued, in his own words:
[…] We are presently experiencing in our nation a period of intense struggle in the advancement of the culture of life.  Our government follows openly and aggressively a totally secularist philosophy with its inherent anti-life and anti-family agenda.  […] Catholics in public office, who obstinately persist in advocating and providing for the most egregious violations of the natural moral law, are the cause of the gravest scandal; they confuse and lead into error their fellow Catholics and non-Catholics alike regarding the most fundamental truths of the moral law.  […] Western Europe, for example, has become pervasively secularised.  A culture which is totally Christian in its roots and owes its entire development to the Christian faith now does not want in any way to be associated with the name of Christ.  It is a culture which is dying, but there are many faithful Christians who live in Western Europe, who have not given up hope and who work to transform the society.  […] Many of our citizens defend the right to observe the dictates of a rightly-formed Christian conscience, against those, even in government, who want to force Christians to violate the dictates of conscience regarding the most fundamental moral truths, that is, the inviolable dignity of innocent and defenceless human life, and the integrity of marriage as the faithful, enduring and life-giving union of one man and one woman. […]
Today, sadly, through a failure of education, first, in the family and then in our schools, many do not understand the nature of human life itself, created in the image and likeness of God, and redeemed by the suffering and death of God the Son Incarnate.  They have lost the sense of their own inherent dignity as true sons and daughters of God and, therefore, have lost respect for their neighbors as brothers and sisters in the one family whose Father is in Heaven and loves His children with all His heart.  Our mission of promoting respect for all human life must, in a particular way, devote itself to promoting purity of heart, sexual purity.  The virtue of purity is fundamentally the disciplined expression of respect for life as God created us, male and female.  In this regard, I note the confusion and error diffused through the language of gender, which fundamentally denies manhood and womanhood, and manipulates human sexuality to include a host of immoral activities which are a violation of the relationship of male and female, as God ordained it from the beginning.  […]
I refuse to believe that most of our fellow countrymen are in favor of destroying babies in the womb in order to honor the so-called right of a woman to make a choice about pregnancy, as if we are ever free to choose with regard to what nature itself has ordained, in accord with God’s plan for man and woman.  I refuse to believe that most of our countrymen are in favor of generating human life artificially and then destroying it at the embryonic stage of development for the sake of experiments, no matter how noble may be the supposed goals of the experimentation.  I refuse to believe that most of our countrymen are in favor of the redefinition of what nature has ordained regarding the union of man and woman in marriage for the sake of their salvation and the procreation and education of offspring to include relationships which are contrary to nature and a betrayal of true friendship between persons of the same sex. […]
The manipulation of the conjugal act, as the Servant of God Pope Paul VI prophetically observed, has led to many forms of violence to marriage and family life.  Through the spread of the contraceptive mentality, especially among the young, human sexuality is no longer seen as the gift of God, which draws a man and a woman together, in a bond of lifelong and faithful love, crowned by the gift of new human life, but, rather, as a tool for personal gratification.  Once sexual union is no longer seen to be, by its very nature, procreative, human sexuality is abused in ways that are profoundly harmful and indeed destructive of individuals and of society itself.  One has only to think of the devastation which is daily wrought in our world by the multi-million dollar industry of pornography.  Essential to the advancement of the culture of life is the proclamation of the truth about the conjugal union, in its fullness, and the correction of the contraceptive thinking which fears life, which fears procreation. […]

The Cardinal referred to
[…] the hypocrisy of Catholics who claim to be practicing their faith but who refuse to apply the truth of the faith in their exercise of politics, medicine, business and the other human endeavors.  These Catholics claim to hold ‘personally’ to the truth of the faith, for example, regarding the inviolability of innocent and defenceless human life, while, in the political arena or in the practice of medicine, they cooperate in the attack on our unborn brothers and sisters, or on our brothers and sisters who have grown weak under the burden of years, of illness, or of special needs.  Their disobedience pertains not to some truth particular to the life of the Church, that is, not to some confessional matter, but to the truth of the divine natural law written on every human heart and, therefore, to be obeyed by all men. […]

Cardinal Burke then spoke about the true meaning of the phrase ‘the Common Good’, particularly in the context of what he had already said.   His speech is recommended to be read in its entirety.

Although he was speaking to an American audience, his words are equally relevant for and to all of us in Europe today.

Cardinal Burke's full address can be accessed on the Rockford Diocese website by following this link and scrolling down to the relevant news item