Sunday, July 08, 2007
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 01, Number 74 | Friday, July 06, 2007
The Land of the Free and the Home of
Freedom is a beautiful word. Americans raise it high every Fourth of July and whenever we want to reaffirm the founding values of our nation. America was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," said one of our more eloquent Presidents, and it is not ironic that he used the analogies of conception and creation to speak of our great nation. Let us keep in mind, however, that the concept of freedom goes quite beyond just the ability to say and do what you want. We, as Catholic Americans, have to make sure that we don't get caught advocating a libertine view of liberty or endorsing a partial concept of freedom that justifies grave injustices. That is our challenge in a culture that celebrates barbarisms such as "freedom of choice" and hedonistic lifestyles.
I believe that no one articulated the concept of freedom better than Pope John Paul II. His view was at once both a Catholic and a truly human concept of freedom that confronts the distorted notions of freedom that are current in our culture. In his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, he challenged us, first of all, to recover "the necessary link between freedom and truth" in order to understand freedom in its essential dimension. He frequently stated that "when freedom is detached from objective truth it becomes impossible to establish personal right on a firm rational basis; and the ground is laid for society to be at the mercy of the unrestrained will of individuals or the oppressive totalitarianism of public authority." (n. 96) He is saying that there is no true freedom when there is no obedience to the moral law and objective principles of right and wrong. One doesn't need to be Catholic to know basic standards of right and wrong. The Ten Commandments used to be a standard expression of the common values of society, even for those without faith, providing the moral glue that could hold any society together. Perhaps that is why the Ten Commandments were written in stone.
Furthermore, in his commentary on the first recorded murder of Abel by his brother Cain, Pope John Paul II notes that there is a "notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service to them.... It cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up becoming the freedom of 'the strong' against the weak who have no choice but to submit." (n. 19) Pope John Paul is warning societies that already celebrate a "freedom without limits" that there are grave consequences for a nation's identity when people refuse to acknowledge the human rights of vulnerable individuals that pre-exist lifestyle prerogatives of a free society. He says elsewhere that "a person, who because of illness or handicap or, more simply, just by existing, compromises the well-being of life-style of those who are more favored, tends to be looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of 'conspiracy against life' is unleashed." (n. 12)
America is the "land of the free and the home of the brave," not the laboratory for a game of the survival of the fittest. Let us continue to fight to bring real freedom to all Americans, born and unborn, and never let up until those rights are fully vindicated. Then America can be that land of true freedom once again.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International