Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 20, 1971 when parishioners settled on a site for the new St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Oxford.
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Satan challenged God to a football match pitting the best players in heaven against the best in hell. St. Peter, speaking on God’s behalf, asked the Prince of Darkness how he expected to win such a contest since the heavenly All-Stars would be disciplined and well-coached, and would play as a team, whereas their opponents, being a gang of incorrigible ruffians, would be utterly disorganized. Satan, bristling with confidence, laughed out loud: "We have the officials on our side, that’s how!"

Such is the way the war between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death is being conducted. Football’s officials are the referee, head linesman, umpire and field judge. In the hands of the underworld, they are known in literary lore as the "Four Horsemen": Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. In their contemporary livery they are: a perfidious media, corrupt politicians, meretricious ad people and timid educators.

Under these conditions, those struggling to advance the Culture of Life are penalized for being "violent, anti-choice and against women," while their opponents are rewarded for being "compassionate, pro-choice and for women." It is all, of course, most unfair.

In football, a wrong call by an NFL official is considered so egregious that "to pull a Hochuli" became part of the language after referee Ed Hochuli, who now must live forever in infamy, made an erroneous call that cost the San Diego Chargers a game. But on the playing field of life, "officials" make wrong calls frequently, deliberately and with impunity. What is not tolerated in the National Football League is applauded on the gridiron of life.

The challenge for those who direct their energies in the interest of promoting life is great, but not insuperable. They will continually work, by word and deed, to show the world that the Culture of Life has more to offer than the Culture of Death. They will help those in need while utilizing wit and imagination to convince those devious mediators that honest and fair reporting is a moral imperative.

My thoughts at this time center on the plight of Canadian pro-life students who are suffering ridicule, censorship and denial of their constitutional rights simply because they believe in the value of education. We must continue to restate the obvious: 1) that induced abortion, which violently ends the life of an unborn child, is incomparably more violent than setting up a right-to-life display; 2) that a choice is free, and not a mere guess, when it is based on relevant information, not when it is deprived of it; 3) that it is not pro-woman to prevent her from obtaining critical knowledge about the nature of abortion and its consequences, while keeping her mummified in a cloak of platitudes.

In the bizarro world of George Orwell’s 1984, war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength. The "officials" who are mediating the abortion issue in Canada are convincing people that knowledge is violence, ignorance is freedom, and education is discrimination. Orwell intended his book to be ironic, not the profession of an ideal!

How did higher education become lower ignorance? Why did choice become infallible when knowledge became unreliable? When was it decided that the best way to treat women is to keep them in the dark?

Culture is an effective educator, though its subtle processes often go unnoticed and therefore uncriticized. It often functions like a colorless and odorless gas that people breathe in without suspecting how it will adversely affect their mode of thinking. Education should involve, for one thing, examining unexamined assumptions. If the unexamined life is not worth living, as Socrates advised, the unexamined culture is not worth living in.

Pro-life advocates must remember that they are struggling against forces that are faceless. Their hope lies in the faith that, ultimately, God is in charge and the hope that life finally will prevail because of its inherent superiority. On the other hand, life has a face, characterizing both the pro-life allies and the unborn whom they seek so valiantly to protect.

The struggle against the forces of darkness is a lifelong enterprise. But it is made specific and therefore all the more dramatic in the current struggle on behalf of life. Canadian pro-life students, precisely because they are discriminated against, are learning a most valuable life-lesson.

"The fire and the rose are one," wrote T. S. Eliot. Education, whether in school or in life, is not a handout. It is not the automatic result of paid tuition or generous parents. It exacts a price paid in frustration and the experience of brutal unfairness. But these fires can cleanse and purify. They can serve as the needed factors that change a mere "intelligence," as Keats called it, into a "soul," into someone who is "personally itself." And how are such "souls" formed? "How but by the medium of a world like this?" The experience of unfairness, together with innumerable hardships and disquietude, can be an effective catalyst in the making of such a "soul." In the self-forgetful act of helping others, we become better persons ourselves. "He who loses his soul, will find it."

Dr. Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell and Mater Ecclesiae College in Greenville, R.I.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.