Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

6/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

We are witnessing a new front in the expansion of the Culture of death and we must act.

The early Roman Empire was a Culture of death. The Christian Church was called into it to transform it from within and build a Culture of life. They lived as leaven, light and salt for the world into which they were sent. Our situation at the beginning of the Third Millennium is similar.

A baby box or hatch where an unwanted newborn has been left

A baby box or hatch where an unwanted newborn has been left

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/13/2012 (2 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: abortion, infanticide, exposure, baby boxes, hatches, Rome, Greec, didache, dignetus, Culture of Life, Culture of death, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - One of my favorite early Christian writings is the letter to Diognetus. A poignant portion of the letter can be read on the Vatican website here. It is one of the earliest examples of Christian "apologetics". The word does NOT mean apologizing for the faith but rather defending the faith.

The letter was written to a pagan inquirer to the Christian faith in the second century. The writer explains some of the practices of the early Christians which set them apart from the pagan cultures into which they were sent. One example of the Christian way of life was their faithful monogamous marriages (only between men and women) and their willingness to welcome children as a gift. They did not engage in non-marital sexual relationships. They did not abort children in the womb or expose their babies after birth.

The unknown writer notes of Christians, "there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh". 

In the ancient Roman and Greek world primitive forms of abortion were practiced. They did not have the sophisticated means we have at our disposal to kill the children by reaching into their first home, their mothers womb. Exposure, the practice of leaving unwanted children out on rocks to be eaten by birds of prey, picked up by slave traders, or die from the exposure to the elements, was also common. At times, the motive of leaving the baby was to prevent their death. However, the practice became a form of child abandonment and infanticide. 

The first/second century Greek historian Plutarch, who became a Roman citizen, wrote of the practice of exposure, "the father took his child and brought it to the elders of the tribe. They examined the child, and if it was well formed and strong, ordered it to be raised, but if the child was ill-born and maimed, they discarded it in the so-called Apothetae, a kind of pit, on the grounds that it was not worth the rearing."

Ancient Rome had "paterfamilias" in their legal code. It gave men the power of life or death over children. The Romans adopted a pseudo-religious defense of the practice claiming that "Romulus (one of the purported founders of the Empire) compelled the citizens to raise every male child and the first-born of the females, and he forbade them to put to death any child under three years of age, unless it was a cripple or a monster from birth. He did not prevent the parents from exposing such children, provided that they had displayed them first to the five nearest neighbors and had secured their approval."

The Christians of the first millennium lived an entirely different way of life than the pagans around them on these matters. One of the earliest Catechisms, the "Didache" or teaching of the twelve , contrasted the way of life and the way of death. Christians were commanded "Do not kill a fetus by abortion, or commit infanticide." Christians rescued children left to die by exposure and took them into their homes, raising them as their own.

The early Roman Empire was a Culture of death. The Christian Church was called into it to transform it from within and build a Culture of life. They lived as their Lord had taught them and become leaven, light and salt for the world into which they were sent. As the letter to Diognetus recorded, "To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body."

Our situation at the beginning of the Third Millennium is similar. The "empires" we live under may not be ancient Rome, but the worldview is similar. It is arguably more brutal when it comes to children in the womb. Abortion for any reason and at any time is now called a "right". The police power of the State, rather than protect the child, protects the ones who take their lives.

So, I was saddened but not shocked to read this week of the return of what could become a new practice of exposure - and the interesting complications posed in this age of sperm banks and new "reproductive" technologies. Randeep Ramesh of the Guardian newspaper in a Sunday June 12, 2012 article entitled "Spread of 'baby boxes' in Europe alarms United Nations"  wrote concerning the growing practice.

The article reported on the growing use of "baby boxes where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice "contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents." However there is a twist to the story. The boxes (or hatches) are often placed outside of hospitals and intended to save the children. Some are sponsored by monasteries or well intended Church or faith based groups who actually want to save babies. 

The writer noted "It is the United Nations raising the complaint and expressing a concern for the rights of the children. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which reports on how well governments respect and protect children's human rights, is alarmed at the prevalence of the hatches - usually outside a hospital - which allow unwanted newborns to be left in boxes with an alarm or bell to summon a carer."

"In western Europe the issue is complicated by religious practice and the law. Sari Essayah, Finnish MEP from the centre-right Christian Democrats, pointed out that in Scandinavia "two lesbians can get sperm anonymously and have children. They don't know the name of the donor. So what about the rights of the child? The UN have got it wrong here about baby boxes."

"Perhaps the most taxing problem will be Germany, the powerhouse of Europe, which has about 80 baby boxes operating across the nation. The German constitution says all citizens have a right to "know of their origins" and fathers have a right to be part of a child's upbringing. Both are breached when a mother gives birth anonymously."

"Hatches are tolerated - but earlier this year German ministers floated the possibility of a new "legal framework for confidential births. In February the German Youth Institute found that the anonymous service had lost trace of a fifth of all abandoned babies - giving ammunition to those who want to end the practice".

We also have a Catechism which gives us instruction, as did our brethren in the early part of the first millennium.  Article Four treats the Morality of Human Acts. It explains that, "Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil."
 
In evaluating the morality of an act we are to look to the "Sources of Morality": "The morality of human acts depends on: the object chosen; the end in view or the intention; the circumstances of the action. The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the "sources," or constitutive elements, of the morality of human acts." (CCC # 1749, 1750)

So, judging the immorality or morality of this modern form of exposure requires an analysis of the intention of the actor. It is not the box or hatch - just like it was not the rock - which determines morality. It was the person leaving the child who was and is engaged in either a moral or an immoral act.

With the ancient form of exposure in Rome - sometimes the motive of leaving the child was to save the lives of the children. However, just as it was with exposure on the rocks used in the early centuries of the first millennium, the practice of baby boxes or hatches itself, abandoning newborn children, is a foreboding sign and requires our attention and intervention as Christians.It raises once again the very serious question at the heart of the decay of Western culture, the loss of respect for the dignity of every human life. 

We are witnessing a new front in the expansion of the Culture of Death and we must act properly. 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.



Comments


More Europe

Pope Francis Gives Direction to Charismatic Renewal and New Movements Watch

Image of Pope Francis at the last Pentecost Sunday Mass. Included in the massive crowd were members of the diverse ecclesial movements from around the world.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 22, 2014, Pope Francis addressed a Congress sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. It brought together new movements and communities in the Catholic Church - from across the globe. These movements are not only flourishing, but multiplying ... continue reading


If backed into a corner will Putin come out swinging? On the eve of Russia's great depression Europe braces for violent repercussions Watch

Image of Some analysts fear that Russia could default on its foreign debt, even worse, a depression may force Vladimir Putin to take an aggressive and expansionist stance in Europe.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The sharply declining price of a barrel of oil and the harsh sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe have created a perfect storm for Russia's weak economy. The ruble has fallen fast, and the financial crisis that faces Russia is quickly spiraling out of ... continue reading


Singing nun Sister Cristian Scucccia fulfills lifelong dream to meet Pope Francis Watch

Image of Sister Cristina is slated to perform at the Vatican's Christmas concert later this week, along with American punk singer Patti Smith.

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

Sister Cristina Scuccia, whose cover of Madonna's "Like a Virgin" has gathered more than four million views on YouTube, has fulfilled her longtime dream of meeting Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Meeting Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square, she ... continue reading


Sexual predator nabbed trying to lure teenage girls off social media sites Watch

Image of Prosecutor Mary McCarthy said Wood sent explicit pictures to girls and, in some cases, arranged to meet them. He had full sexual intercourse with five of the girls. Some of the offenses occurred while he was on bail.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Yeovil man, in Great Britain has been arrested on numerous sex charges. Twenty-year-old Jacob Wood is accused of grooming "vulnerable" teenage girls for sex through social media sites. Wood has been spared a prison sentence after a judge said it would not ... continue reading


'We may not live through these days': Is Mikhail Gorbachev warning that the crisis in Ukraine could turn into World War III? Watch

Image of Former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, who has long been hailed as one of the leading architects in ending the Cold War is now warning that the world may be facing the potential of war if Russian and American leaders are unwilling to back down.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It is no secret that relations between the United States-and its allies in Europe-and Russia have chilled to levels unseen since the end of the Cold War over the ongoing civil war in Ukraine. What is surprising is just who is issuing a warning about the potential ... continue reading


Plight of boat people worldwide addressed by United Nations Watch

Image of

By Katie Nguyen, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Governments must focus on saving lives rather than keeping foreigners out at a time when more people than ever are embarking on risky sea crossings in search of asylum or a better life, the United Nations said on Wednesday. GENEVA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - ... continue reading


Indian, Pakistani accept Nobel Peace Prizes Watch

Image of Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, from India accepted their Nobel Peace Prizes in Norway.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

India and Pakistan are longtime international rivals. This didn't prevent a Pakistani teenage advocate for women's education and an Indian child rights campaigner from receiving Nobel Peace Prizes. Both Malala Yousafzai, from Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi, ... continue reading


VATICAN AT RISK OF TOTAL DESTRUCTION as Islamic State smuggles dirty bomb into Europe Watch

Image of Vatican City may be a primary target for the Islamic State's dirty bomb.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A weapons maker for the Islamic State has posted a chilling warning to the world, claiming that a radioactive device, known as a "dirty bomb" has been successfully smuggled into Europe. This suggests that a radiological bombing could be imminent. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'ISIS killers are monsters and cowards,' widow of slain British aid worker says Watch

Image of

By Troy Dredge, Catholic Online

The widow of a 44-year-old British aid worker David Haines, who was murdered by Islamic State extremists has denounced his killers "cowards." Dragana Haines, whose husband David was killed by the militants in a graphic video posted online last September, says she still ... continue reading


Has the Islamic State moved on to Russia? 16 dead in Islamist attack! Watch

Image of 16 people have died, and 21 more were injured during an attack in the capital of Chechnya by Islamic militants.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

At least 16 people are dead in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, following an early morning attack on a police checkpoint, media building and school by rebel gunmen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The attack occurred at 1:00 a.m. (local time) on December 4, and ... continue reading


All Europe News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Second Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
1 Once the king had settled into his palace and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
2 for you have said: love is built to last for ever, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 16:25-27
25 And now to him who can make you strong in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 21st, 2014 Image

St. Peter Canisius
December 21: In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter