Msgr. Charles Pope is currently a dean and pastor in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, where he has served on the Priest Council, the College of Consultors, and the Priest Personnel Board. Along with publishing a daily blog at the Archdiocese of Washington website, he has written in pastoral journals, conducted numerous retreats for priests and lay faithful, and has also conducted weekly Bible studies in the U.S. Congress and the White House. He was named a Monsignor in 2005.
It is hard to argue that the whole world is not in some sort of seismic upheaval, of which the deplorable U.S. Supreme Court decision on Monday is but another sign. Perhaps a few thoughts about the decision but also on the deepening darkness that it reflects.
The pro-abortionists for years have said that they wanted abortion to be “Safe and Legal.” In the wake of horrific stories of abortionists like Kermit Gosnell, Texas and other states passed common sense bills that sought to regulate abortion “clinics” and subject them to the same medical requirements and protocols as any other clinic. Simple norms were proposed such as cleanliness, proper space to get gurneys in and out in the event of an emergency, and that abortion “doctors” have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital.
Opposition to such norms by abortion supporters puts the lie to the “safe” in their “Keep Abortion Safe and Legal” cry. Abortion for them is the main point, not dangers to a woman’s health or well-being. For all their talk about coat-hangers and what will happen, if abortion is made illegal, it is just that, talk. When given the opportunity to demonstrate their concern for the safety and well-being of women, they tip their hand: abortion comes first, health and safety are a distant second.
We pro-lifers make no pretense that we want to limit abortions. Nevertheless, that does not cancel the legitimate insistence that abortion “clinics” should meet the same requirements as any other medical clinic or hospital where surgical procedures are performed. Not so said the Court, in a decision that reflects a politically divided court more than a group of Justices who apply the law in a way that is above politics. This decision, like too many others today reflect a Court that has been deeply corrupted by the influence of politics and a desire to change the law more than interpret it.
This is a dark day for this country. Those who support unrestricted abortion, no matter how commonsensical the proposed regulating initiatives, were handed another victory. The right to abortion was said by the Court in 1973 to have been found in the penumbra of the Constitution. Penumbra refers to the outer edges of a shadow, and this shadow that has crept into this land of ours is increasingly dark and deep. Yes, this was a dark day in a deepening darkness of the evil of abortion. Though great progress has been made in winning hearts, the legal system seems politically and ideologically locked down, especially at the Federal level.
No amount of medical evidence or knowledge of the glory of fetal development will sway those who have hardened their hearts. Even in the specter of the sales of baby parts by Planned Parenthood will not sway them. Still, many champion dreadful practices like partial birth abortion, Hilary Clinton brashly says unborn children have no rights in our legal system and Planned Parenthood which illegally sells baby parts is uncharged, and the journalists who exposed the evil must face trial instead.
Abortion has deeply corrupted our land and legal system. But is it both a cause and a symptom of a deeper and worldwide evil that seems to have extended its depth and reach. There is a kind of a judgement upon us as we are handed us over to fuller depth of our collective iniquity.
Throughout the globe, terrorism, growing religious and ethnic strife, and moral decline has reached dizzying, rapid rates and seems increasingly irreversible. Moral debasement and sexual confusion in the West seem to know no depth. Justice Robert Bork once wrote of how the West was “slouching toward Gomorrah.” But now our slouch has become a rapid sprint toward the edge of an abyss, and the pace of the decline is shockingly rapid.
Things almost unimaginable sixty years ago are now common and celebrated: The right to kill unborn children, divorce on demand, open and widespread cohabitation, fornication, and the consequent huge increases in sexually transmitted diseases, herpes and AIDs. There is an explosion in single motherhood, absent fatherhood, the open practice of homosexuality and “Gay Pride” parades, same-sex “marriage,” transgenderism featuring “identities” such as bigender, cisgender, gender-nonconforming, genderqueer, intersex, non-binary, pangender…. Add to this a rising secularism, a militant atheism and a growing criminalization of religious beliefs and practices, and an uncertain trumpet in Rome.
Any time traveler from 1950 would conclude that some widespread insanity and delusion had gripped the world and that we have obviously taken leave of our senses.
Yes, our slouch to Gomorrah has gone to warp speed. Even race relations which would seem improved to our time traveler would still appear to be tainted by a kind of obsession that so emphasized every distinction that any sense of common humanity was lost.
I cannot say that I am not very alarmed and concerned at the rapid and deepening darkness about us. I will continue to preach and work for the repentance and salvation of us all and of this once great land. But I must say my prayer is increasingly filled with dismay. The Lord promised that the Church would be indefectible, but that promise does not extend to cultures and civilizations. Greater civilizations than our have disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Yet, still I will work and pray. And for now, these words from the Book of Psalms strike me as pertinent to our times:
Help, O Lord, for good men have vanished;
truth has gone from the sons of men.
Falsehood they speak one to another,
with lying lips, with a false heart.
May the Lord destroy all lying lips,
the tongue that speaks high-sounding words,
those who say: “Our tongue is our strength;
our lips are our own, who is our master?”
“For the poor who are oppressed and the needy who groan
I myself will arise,” says the Lord,
“I will grant them the salvation for which they thirst.”
The words of the Lord are words without alloy,
silver from the furnace, seven times refined.
It is you, O Lord, who will take us in your care
and protect us forever from this generation.
See how the wicked prowl on every side,
while the worthless are prized highly by the sons of men. (Psalm 12)
Yes, help Lord. Keep for yourself a faithful remnant and give me the courage and strength to be found in that remnant.