01 November 2008

And if One Never Lives...?

With the election looming, and a proposal favoring embryonic stem cell research on the Michigan ballot, discussions in the philosophy and theology classes I teach have become lively. Not heated, just lively.

Like all high schools, these Catholic school students seek to understand by pushing the limits. More often than not, I repeat the clear logic I heard Dr Peter Kreeft present at a local Catholic parish earlier in October. It goes like this:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of prosperity/happiness are set in a specific order. How can one pursue prosperity or happiness if one has not liberty? And how can one pursue liberty is one has no life? Therefore, of the three, life is the greatest moral good.

I believe that, amongst all the very important issues in this year's presidential campaign, that greatest moral good of life must always reign firm. Of course, one could argue (as many do) that the war in Iraq is a life-issue. So are, to greater or lesser degrees, the policies touching upon poverty, healthcare and the like. But these are to greater or lesser degrees. To the greatest degree is that one can live.

Again, Dr Kreeft offers clear logic when he asserts that the war in Iraq is a key life issue, but what good is saving a soldier's life if we allow the destruction of the life of one who never had a chance to be a soldier--or anything else?

Recently, the Most Reverend Joseph Martino, Catholic Bishop of Scranton, offered the same clarity in a Pastoral Letter:

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don't think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day.


Rosko said...

Very well put, Father. I especially like the part about "life, liberty and the pursuit..." having been put in that order for a reason. Your words on this blog, though they don't come often, are always a joy to read.

Sbdn. Lucas said...

[Hopefully this will post, as my last few attempts to comment on previous posts have to date never appeared]

Fr. John,

Father, bless. Agreeing entirely with the sentiment of your post, it begs--for me--another question.

What do we do when side A. is:
-open about its unwillingness to uphold Right to Life issues
-yet may support other, 'lower-order' issues of concern

but side B. is:
-willing to give lip service to Right to Life
-but does not appear likely to manifest a practical change for Right to Life
-and seems not to support the 'lower-order' concerns either?

In other words, what does one do, when one feels like a donkey before whom a carrot is being dangled?

(I ask this genuinely, not as a rhetorical device--adding this as I realize tone doesn't translate online)

the sinner,
Sbdn. Lucas

Fr John W Fenton said...

Sbdn Lucas,

Elections are never perfect. Nearly always, they involve making tough choices. Equally, politicians are hardly ever consistent. They clamor to be liked and elected, rather than to be right and responsible.

Having said that, I'll always choose "lip service" over outright denial of the sanctity of life.

Pray for me.

Diane M. Korzeniewski said...

I heard this talk just this past Sunday online. I thought it was great, and very simple. It's the first time I've ever heard Dr. Peter Kreeft talk and I liked the way he broke things down. There is nothing like simplicity and he does it so matter-of-factly.

Fr John W Fenton said...


Thanks for reading and commenting. I'd be grateful if you would post or send me the link. Thanks.

Pray for me.