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VIEW FROM THE PEW
Vol 6 No. 4
Dedicated to St. Joseph By & For Santa Clara Valley Catholics

August-September, 1999
Editor - Jane Anderson

CONTENTS of THIS ISSUE
FLUSHING THE WOMB: OR 'WHAT TO DO THE MORNING-AFTER'
"WHO'S ON FIRST, WHAT'S ON SECOND"
IS THE ROUTINE ABOUT SPIRIT OF RENEWAL
LIFE AND DEATH ISSUES
IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD (SELFISH) WORLD

 

 

FLUSHING THE WOMB: OR 'WHAT TO DO THE MORNING-AFTER'

It's interesting to see how the major media ignore the Catholic Church in articles about contraception. In the San Jose Diocese, for example, perhaps one-quarter of the population lists itself as nominally Catholic; yet the San Jose Mercury News ran an article on "morning-after" contraceptives called "Timing is Everything" (Tuesday, Aug. 3, 1999, Silicon Valley Life section) with literally no debate on whether the concept is unethical.

The article presented old news, really. Since RU-486, the French "morning-after" pill, ran into trouble, American doctors began publicizing their "best-kept secret," namely that ordinary contraceptive pills could operate as abortifacients if taken in high-enough doses up to 72 hours after "unprotected" intercourse.

The "new" news is that Stanford University Student Health Center and other university health centers

are anxious to spread the word and issue emergency contraceptives, no questions asked. Their biggest problem is to get the word out, according to Dr. Robyn Tepper, the Stanford center's chief of medical services.

Without mentioning the religious conflict by name (namely Catholicism or pro-life), the article quotes Dorothy Furgerson, medical director of Planned Parenthood Mar Monte: "This is not an abortion. It does nothing to an already established pregnancy."

No, indeed. The way the high dose of contraceptives works is this: 1. Have sex. 2. Worry about it. 3. Take big dose of hormone pills. 4. Experience nausea and possibly vomiting as the hormones do their work, which is to prevent implantation of any fertilized egg on the uterine wall. 5. Go about business as usual.

The article does point out that the Wal-Mart company won't have anything to do with stocking emergency contraceptive-type products because of a "bottom-line decision," that is, the company figures it won't make enough money (possibly because of litigation?)

But don't let this hold anyone up.The Mercury printed a box spreading the word on where the contraceptive providers are; how to contact Planned Parenthood centers, many of which stock the emergency contraceptive kits; how to contact the company that manufactures the kits, where to find the emergency contraception Web site and even an emergency hotline number to locate doctors who will quickly prescribe the drug.

Wow! In any other context, this would be construed as free advertising. The tone and information in the article would suggest there is no pro-life controversy here and certainly no ethical or theological problems involved. Everyone -- Catholic and non-Catholic -- simply accepts the Pill, "unprotected sex," and the need for emergency womb flushing (to call it what it is). Or, to put it another way, the Mercury is simply providing young men and women with the means of avoiding responsibility for enjoying what used to be the human act of sex within the marriage covenant.

At the other end of the spectrum -- the infertility end -- Julie Kelemen, who writes Catholic catechism books for children, has published a guide for Catholics on infertility. The booklet, published by Liguori Press, talks about the heartache of infertility and what to do about it. Kelemen does suggest regular prayer as a first resort, but then she passes quickly to the "real" work: infertility treatments, support groups, getting the facts, laying down a plan, keeping adoption in the picture, etc.

The booklet covers the Church position on in vitro fertilization briefly -- very briefly -- but brushes it off as not very consequential compared to the other issues, like strain on the marriage, strain on the purse and possible damage to mental and physical health.

What is quite amazing about "Dealing with Infertility" is its total disregard of the pro-life issue involved in fertility or infertility, which are opposite ends of the same debate. Thou shalt not kill -- and perhaps thou shalt not bear. This is God's plan, not Man's. Finding out the problem makes good sense, just like diagnosing a pregnancy makes good sense. Doing something about it should involve at the very least a spiritual counseling session with a good priest.

"WHO'S ON FIRST, WHAT'S ON SECOND"
IS THE ROUTINE ABOUT SPIRIT OF RENEWAL

They plan to tear up St. John Vianney Church again in the Diocese of San Jose, Calif. Go figure! Last time, the statuary disappeared, the baptismal font was relocated, and gauzy banners were hung from the rafters. The intention was to keep up with the "spirit of Vatican II."

The new architectural plan calls for offices to be built in the space originally occupied by the convent (all the nuns have disappeared, of course). The rectory will be redesigned for more spacious living quarters for the priests. There will be some additions for the school. And, oh yes, the church itself will be redesigned so the altar table can be relocated to the center with pews "in the round."

In case you haven't experienced one of these interior redesigns, it's awful! Take a building that was built in the sign of the cross and jerry-rig it to appear like a circle, and you have a very strange thing, indeed. Some people wind up sitting behind pillars with no view of the altar. In one church, the new pews selected were orange and purple! But at least there were kneelers.

Redesigning the Church is rather like reading a bad novel: First, the setting is rearranged, then the style (the liturgy). Finally, the plot itself vanishes.

The O'Hara-like irony is that parishioners will pony up a few million dollars after being told that change will renew their faith!

LIFE AND DEATH ISSUES

People who attend church regularly live longer, says USA Today from a study reported to the American Sociological Association in Chicago. The sociologists reasoned that religious people may take better care of their bodies—hence their longer longevity. We religious folks would reason that peace of soul leads to longer life, both here and in the hereafter.

On a grimmer note, a study out of Stanford reports that the United States has reported a lower crime rate in the ‘90s, and evidence suggests it’s because the U.S. legalized abortion in the 1970s. The rationale here is that women who abort their children save the world from future criminals.

Is this diabolical thinking or what?

Now we have to do is figure out what we don’t want, what causes it, then zap the unborn children who MIGHT produce it. This would go for disease, crime, depression, drug use, blue eyes, you-name-it.

We’re not too far from a science-fiction future where doctors will be required to decide whether a young woman should deliver, based on her genetic profile. As in China, she would be prosecuted if she balked at the will of the state.

Perhaps the "experts" are just making hay with the statistics, however. Is the crime rate really down? And who is committing what crimes? What about child abuse, domestic violence, divorce, the crimes that increase with the lowering of respect for life?

Common sense tells us that the presence of abortion in a country makes it more, not less, dangerous. It’s especially dangerous for the victims of crimes not counted: the 1.5 million babies per year killed by abortion, for example.

IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD (SELFISH) WORLD

There are guys selling self-esteem for $10,000 a day. That's a lot of love!

The cost of self-love was just one of the chilling facts reported on ABC's 20/20 program on Aug. 1, 1999. U.S. school children marching to the music of self-love is not unlike those films of pre-schoolers in Communist China, marching in perfect time to a song about Mao Tse Tung.

Our own children are encouraged to recite -- and believe -- "I am the greatest! I am the greatest! I am the greatest just because I'm me!"

"They're not singing about Abe Lincoln; they're singing about themselves," one observer commented.

It's all part of the nationwide effort to give kids self-esteem -- in the absence of anything they might actually earn. Some schools have abandoned the grading system. Sports teams offer trophies to all players so no one will feel slighted. Kids still know who the heroes are -- but they are quite happy to live their little lies because the goal is to feel good.

In the 20 years that schools have been pushing this education-defeating, self-esteem idea, no one has been able to prove it works. But that doesn't stop the educators! There are a lot of people on the payroll of this idea. And the seminar guys -- well, they're getting rich off our collective naiveté.

This worrisome picture is all part of democratic socialism. Like those perfectly controlled, robot-like children in China, everyone is encouraged to think the same, receive the same and get happy.

But happiness is an illusion. ABC reported that some experts are blaming the self-esteem movement for "trigger" murders like the massacre in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999. They think that violence may be artificial self-esteem -- the super-hero kind. It turns out that groups of young men tested in prison actually feel better about themselves than average college guys.

But here's the irony: After all this self-esteem brain-washing, kids grow up. They hit the corporations with little or no expertise in reading and math, just a lot of big plans born of self-love. Companies have to bring these potential workers up to snuff with remedial courses -- and wacky diversity-training seminars. Diversity-training tries to get them to respect someone other than themselves. And diversity-training is also a growth industry -- with diversity gurus making big bucks and whole departments devoted to handling harassment situations, before and after the fact.

This is a world gone mad. On the one hand, children are taught the world revolves around them. Later, they are asked to pretend the world revolves around someone else's sun.

Catholic schools have excelled in the past partly because they didn't waste time on trendy theories. In the morning, kids went to Mass, where they learned the world revolved around the Son of God. Then they went to math, science, English and history classes. At night, they went home to homework and were graded on the result. That picture is changing because administrators and teachers in most Catholic schools today are lay people who received their own training at secular institutions and who are allowed to teach only because they have secured secular "credentials."

In the new parochial school, the individual is central -- and redesigned church liturgies tend to reflect this change. The fact that few people go to Confession but everyone goes to Eucharist is just a symptom of the times. When people are taught "I'm OK; you're OK," they come to believe sin is a myth.

In school -- as in life -- we worship a new god: self.

This page was updated: 09/06/99