|Abortion and the Pope's Encyclical|
Walter L. Matt
|Introduction by Michael J. Matt|
Editor’s Note: The following was written by Walter Matt on February 1, 1973—a month after the legalization of abortion in this country. The reason we’re posting it here today is twofold: 1) It recalls to mind St. Pius X’s ominous warnings that the collapse of Christendom, of which legal abortion is but one symptom, does indeed signal the rise of Antichrist and the advent of the Last Days, and 2) It provides a bittersweet reminder of how the popes of the last century used the powerful medium of the papal encyclical to try to save souls and stave off man’s self-propelled plummet into darkness.
Clearly, the times have changed. In fact, we encourage the reader to contrast and compare the first encyclical letter of Pope Pius X (excerpts of which appear below) with that of Pope Benedict XVI (Deus Caritas Est) and ask yourself one question: If in 1903 the situation in the Church struck a Saint as being desperate enough to warrant immediate papal warnings of the rise of Antichrist, why should it be that 103 years later, when the world is on the brink of universal apostasy, our Pope's first encyclical would make no mention at all of any such threat?
There has been minimal discussion, in fact, of Pope Benedict’s first encyclical letter on Christian love. It seems there is little about it to cause the world any great concern. As the post-conciliar popes have long since removed their papal crowns and refused to actually rule the Church, it should come as no surprise to us that they are becoming less and less adept at addressing the resulting crisis. After all, addressing that crisis carries with it a dual threat to the modern popes: 1) It at least implicitly indicts their Second Vatican Council which has rendered the Church much less powerful in the face of evil, and 2) It places them at odds with the world whose praise and good favor they seem so eager to court.
Catholics have been languishing in this peculiar ecclesial reality since 1965, buffeted from all sides by the Godless and the Faithless, fearful of predator priests, scandalized by sodomite bishops, weeping over lost children, looking on through tears as churches built by grandfathers and great-grandfathers are sold to the highest bidder, pulling youngsters out of Catholic schools lest there they should lose the Faith, and, finally, taking desperate measures such as home schooling the little ones just to try to survive this nightmarish “new springtime”.
And then...along comes the new Pope’s first encyclical on, of all things, “eros-agape”. Huh? The captain of the Titanic is standing on the deck calling out the menu options and carefully checking the wine list as lifeboats are being lowered into the icy brine. Evidently, he cannot hear the wailing cries of countless souls drowning in the sea of secularism at his feet. He seems to have little or no inkling of what life for a Catholic family is like now that the Church has struck the iceberg of the Second Vatican Council. He seems pathetically out of touch even with the few remaining Catholics who have not yet dived off the burning deck, and who are looking desperately back to him for guidance, for some sign that he understands their plight.
For forty years, Catholics have been wandering this post-conciliar desert, begging their father to save them, lead them, put an end to the physical, moral and spiritual rape of their children, and to, once and for all, reverse engines and abandon the failed polices of the disastrous Vatican II. Obviously, their voices--our voices--have not reached the Eternal City. The nightmare is to continue.
As we labor through the Pope’s new encyclical one thing becomes painfully clear: Peter is fiddling while the Roman Church burns. Michael J. Matt
In reading the encyclicals of Pope St. Pius X, one stands in admiration and amazement at the clear insight and sober analysis of modern society which this great Saint manifested when he was called upon to occupy the Chair of Peter in 1903. Very few men of his time realized how far the Christian world had strayed from Christ. They did not detect, beneath the veneer of external loyalty and outward show of the traditional Christian living inherited from the past centuries, that an internal basic weakness had developed in the Christian soul, that the will to live for Christ had weakened, and that the heart of the Christian world had ceased to beat in unison with the heart of Christ. As Bishop Peter W Bartholome observed (1952), in the foreword to the encyclical letters of St. Pius X:
Few men realized that faith in Christ was being supplanted by faith in man, that the mind of man had decided to govern the world in place of the Providence of God…
And because men lacked the insight of Pius X into the condition of the modern world, many of his warnings went unheeded and his projected reforms were looked upon even by Catholics as perhaps good but not really so necessary. Thus it was that, in 1903, when St. Pius X spoke about “all respect for the Eternal God” having been ignored among “the majority of men” and about the total disregard both in “public and private life to the Supreme Will,” there were many, even among Catholics, who thought he went too far and, very probably, deemed him to be “a prophet of doom and gloom”.
And yet, in face of recent developments, particularly here in the United States, where the Supreme Court has now “legalized” what was heretofore known as criminal abortion, or the murder of unborn children, St. Pius X’s expressed predictions and warnings back in 1903 come to mind with startling new force and gravity. He wrote:
When all is considered, there is good reason to fear lest this great perversity (rebellion against God) may be, as it were, a foretaste and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days, and that there may already be in the world the ‘Son of Perdition’ of whom the Apostle speaks (II Thes. Ii, 4). Such, in truth, is the audacity and the wrath employed everywhere in persecuting religion, in combating the dogmas of the faith, in resolute efforts to uproot and destroy all relations between man and the divinity. While, on the other hand, and this according to the same Apostle is the distinguishing mark of Anti-Christ, man has with infinite temerity put himself in the place of God, raising himself above all that is called God; in such wise that although he cannot utterly extinguish in himself all knowledge of God, he has nevertheless condemned God’s majesty and, as it were, made of the universe a temple wherein he himself is to be adored. ‘He sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God. (E Supreme Apostolatus, Pius X, 1903)
That last line especially deserves repeating: “He sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself as if he were God”!
For even while the Nation’s top court chose last week to throttle, for all practical purposes, the right to life itself for millions of infants yet unborn, the President of the United States [Richard Nixon], flushed with the results of the Paris peace talks, proclaimed, in his second inaugural address, that not only was the peace now assured in Indochina, but we would begin to see a “new era” of ultimate world peace, in which the United States, the Soviet Union, and Red China are apparently envisioned as playing the principal parts! With a Vietnam truce agreement – however fragile this may prove to be – in hand, and “new relationships” with the major Communist powers, a “new structure of peace” has been established, the President said. The Vietnam peace, he said, was achieved by “turning away from old policies that failed,” in favor of “new policies” that will lead to a “new era of progress and peace.”
The President failed to say how this “new era” of ultimate universal progress and peace will materialize in a world in which (at least where the Soviet Union and Red China are concerned) God has been officially dethroned, and (where the United States is concerned) we are now officially sanctioning and even sacralizing the murder of the unborn, and, in consequence, the negation of human right and liberty!
It is, of course, farthest from our purpose here to single out anyone, whether a public official or anyone else, for unwarranted censure or one-sided blame. And yet, as Pope Pius XI stated it back in 1930, in his encyclical Casti Connubii, what we are dealing with when we speak of the “grave crime” of abortion is precisely this:
Whether inflicted upon the mother or upon the child, it (abortion) is against the precept of God and the law of nature: ‘Thou shalt not kill’. The life of each is equally sacred and no one has the power, not even the public authority, to destroy it…Those who hold the reins of government should not forget that it is the duty of public authority by appropriate laws and sanctions to defend the lives of the innocent, and this all the more so since those whose lives are endangered and assailed cannot defend themselves. Among whom we must mention in first place infants hidden in the mother’s womb. And if the public magistrates not only do not defend them but by their laws and ordinances betray them to death at the hands of doctors or of others, let them remember that God is the Judge and Avenger of innocent blood which cries from earth to heaven. (Gen. iv.,10)
Indeed, if the projected “era of progress and peace” is ever to be realized, it surely will not be along the dead-end street which we, as a Nation, are presently following. Abortion, sterilization, a misnamed women’s “liberation” and lusting for “equal rights” – all of these things, currently so much in the news, are designed, ultimately, not for the advancement or progress of civilization, but for its extinction, for the eradication of Christian wedlock and family life, and the return to barbarism.
And that, apparently, is the route we are now traveling! Thus, for example, the current nationwide campaign, by a militant array of “women liberationists”, to pressure the various States into ratifying the so-called Equal Rights Amendment, is continuing to gain momentum also in our own State (Minnesota). Twenty-two state legislatures have already ratified the Amendment. If 16 more States do so before March of 1979, it will become part of the Bill of Rights. And what then? Pope Pius XI, in the same encyclical quoted above (Casti Connubii, 1930), spelled it all out very clearly. He wrote:
The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim, the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation, according to them, must be threefold: in the ruling of domestic society, in the administration of family affairs, and in the rearing of children. It must be social, economic, physiological – physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the care of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bend and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally, economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband, and family. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as among the pagans the mere instrument of man.
Here the Pontiff cited the warning of his predecessor, Leo XIII: “Unless things change, the human family and state have every reason to fear lest they should suffer absolute ruin.” Then underscoring these words, Pius XI concluded: “All this was written fifty years ago, yet it is confirmed by the daily increasing corruption of morals and the unheard-of degradation of the family in those lands where Communism reigns unchecked.”
The question today, 1973, is this: Is this “corruption of morals and degradation of the family” confined solely to those countries where Communism reigns unchecked, or are we not witnessing even now the final stages of this selfsame dissolution of the social order right here in America, even before Communism, officially, seizes the reins?
If as long ago as 1903 St. Pius X thought there was reason to fear lest the world was perhaps having “a foretaste and perhaps the beginning of those evils which are reserved for the last days,” what are we to think now, seventy years later, when Antichrist is blatantly manifest all around us?
In the face of the U.S. high court’s decision to legalize the murder of the unborn, the answer is obvious. The nation that begins openly, officially, to defy God and to contravene His law, is destined before long to decline and fall! It will take nothing short of a miracle of divine grace to avert such catastrophe!