Posts Tagged ‘Planned Parenthood’

Time for a New Translation of “Reponsible Parenthood” in Humanae Vitae?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

The HHS mandate on sterilization, abortifacients, and birth control, and the strong reaction of the U.S. Catholic bishops, has challenged many Catholics to examine whether they agree with the bishops. This controversy has become for many a moment of grace, and many Catholics have been reexamining whether they can commit to accepting and defending Church teaching on life, birth control, and abortion.

Catholic progressives who support access to abortion and artificial contraception are caught in a hard place, because of the growing unanimity among not only the bishops themselves, but pastors and other persons heading Church institutions that such pro-abortion or pro-choice positions are difficult to recognize as authentically Catholic.

Some prominent Catholics who would have previously given “cover” to pro-choice politicians have ceased doing so. Some progressive pastors, who could always be relied upon to wink and nod to pro-choice and artificially contracepting Catholics, have stopped doing so, and some such pastors have even openly spoken out against abortion for the first time in their priesthood. These pastors themselves have had to wrestle with reading aloud their bishop’s letter on the HHS mandate. Very few have refused to do so. How can I read this letter, they may ask themselves, and continue to remain on the fence? Those pastors who have refused to read or publish their bishop’s letter or the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ bulletin insert have now been forced to reveal their position publicly.

It is therefore becoming much harder with any credibility to claim that one can support Planned Parenthood or the anti-life positions taken by Planned Parenthood and remain authentically Catholic in any sense of the word.

Not only is this a moment of grace for some, but it is also a moment of decision. This moment of decision has led some Catholics to revisit official Church teaching, with the question, Can I accept what the Church teaches?

When some Catholics begin to reexamine the pro-life and anti-abortion, anti-artificial birth control teaching in the 1968 papal encyclical, Humanae Vitae, they immediately face a problem: the translation is dated, in that the meaning of certain English words in the encyclical have already shifted in meaning since 1968, principally the word “responsible,” as in the encyclical’s phrase, “responsible parenthood.”

“Responsible parenthood” unfortunately today almost evokes “Planned Parenthood,” and also now may carry with it environmental overtones following the mistaken but popular fears against overpopulating the planet.

Like any translation, dimensions of the language of the official Latin text of Humanae Vitae are not completely conveyed by the 1968 English translation.

The noted Australian philosopher, legal scholar, Oxford and Notre Dame Professor John M. Finnis in recent years has thus worked on a new translation of Humanae Vitae, as mentioned in this scholarly article and in this talk.

Here is a link for videos of Prof. Finnis’s talk at Notre Dame University’s Center for Ethics and Culture in 2008, along with a related talk by moral philosopher Prof. Janet E. Smith on “conscious parenthood.

The earliest English translations of Humanae Vitae translate “paternitas conscia” in its section ten as “responsible parenthood,” despite the fact that such a translation is not listed in many Latin dictionaries. Roy J. Defarrari’s Latin-English Dictionary of St. Thomas Aquinas translates “conscius” as “knowing or conscious of something with another” taking the genitive, with a second meaning of “knowing something in oneself,” taking the word sibi. Neither usage quite matches the Latin of Humanae Vitae.

The Latin word “conscius” is rich in meaning. It could mean knowing together as if in a conspiracy. It could also mean shared knowing as in shared intimacy, or in shared consciousness. The meaning may be closer to “intimate knowledge.” While a fuller translation of “paternitas conscia” might be cast as “conscious parenthood” or “intentional parenthood” rather than “responsible parenthood,” much work remains to be done to effectively translate and convey the full richness of the meaning. What is missing in the “responsible parenthood” translation is the mutual and intimate knowledge shared by the married couple, evocative of the Old Testament meaning of knowledge, meaning an act of knowing including sexual intimacy.

The Rev. Know-It-All and I discussed this point on a Go Ask Your Father radio segment on 2/15/12. He reflected upon a possible vocational meaning in the “conscia” of number 10 in Humanae Vitae.

Why is all this attention to the translation of a single word so important? Because meanings unfold from the translation of a single word.

The Church appears to lack good, commonsense arguments in favor of its teaching against artificial contraception. But by focusing on “paternitas conscia” as shared, intimate self knowledge flowing from the sacramental meaning of marriage itself, a powerful revelation of both the meaning and responsibility of marriage can unfold.

By the way, Prof. Finnis made a very important point in his Notre Dame talk of 2008 that the noted legal scholar John Noonan completely misunderstood St. Thomas Aquinas on the meaning of faith in his 1965 book, Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists, which was very influential in how Humanae Vitae was originally received in 1968.

Perhaps the title of Blessed John Paul II’s book Love and Responsibility, comes as close as any to more fully translating “paternitas conscia,” implying a knowing and intimate sharing of the responsibilities of the vocation chosen through the Sacrament of Marriage.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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George Weigel on “HHS and Soft Totalitarianism”

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Leading Catholic public scholar George Weigel made quite an emphatic statement on 2/15/12, with not a few bon mots, in his essay on HHS and Soft Totalitarianism.

Please see my earlier post on “shirt movements” and their role in the rise of totalitarian governments, and also my mention in this blog on 2/5/12 of the jeopardy in which “mediating institutions” are put by the HHS mandate, a point very strongly made by Mr. Weigel on 2/15/12.

The thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters who waged an intimidating Internet campaign against the Susan G. Komen Foundation recently functioned in a similar way to shirt movements of the past, sans the street violence, to muscle the Komen Foundation into reversing an earlier decision not to fund Planned Parenthood. Normally beneficial civic engagement is in danger of morphing into systematic and overwhelming intimidation of civil society and mediating institutions. Mr. Weigel’s phrase, Soft Totalitarianism, is thus very apt. Let’s hope this phenomenon stays “soft,” and moves away from “total.”

Fascism was powered by radio, film, and print as society adjusted to these combined media. Our own age now has its own struggle for freedom in light of our own new media.

More on this media topic soon. . .

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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U.S. Catholic Bishops Reject 2/10/12 Obama HHS “Compromise” on Conscience and Abortifacients

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

The U.S. Catholic Bishops issued late on 2/10/12 a more comprehensive statement on President Obama’s 2/10/12 HHS “Compromise” on forced funding for sterilization, abortifacients, and birth control, stating that the rescission of the HHS mandate is the only complete solution.

A number of progressive Catholics and related organizations issued statements apparently coordinated with the 2/10/12 announcement of the President differing with the bishops, and backed President Obama’s 2/10/12 announcement.

The President cited in his statement a report by the Institute of Medicine which recommended the HHS mandate. HLI America has posted an analysis showing that the Institute of Medicine has been packed with pro-abortion advocates and supporters.

Rep. Chris Smith (R., NJ 4th district) issued a blunt 2/10/12 statement rejecting the President’s 2/10/12 modification of the HHS mandate. Smith maintains that the President’s goal is “to end Catholic Health Care.”

I wouldn’t doubt that if Catholic health care as an independent cluster of institutions is targeted to be eliminated–a long-term goal of radical Illinois pro-choice forces–that a Quisling Catholic will be chosen to give what remains of Catholic health care verisimilitude.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia issued a statement on 2/12/12 calling the HHS mandate “insulting and dangerous.”

Please see my earlier post on this subject.

Please see a more general economic criticism of the HHS mandate by University of Chicago finance professor John H. Cochrane.

Please see an interview with Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NYC on the HHS mandate broadcast on 2/10/12 on EWTN.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Why Babies Should Live

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Each baby has his or her own birth story, but most babies are also genetically encoded for their own survival with reflexes that endure normally only in early infancy:

A newborn placed on her mother’s stomach will begin a kind of crawl to the breast.

A touch to the corner of a baby’s mouth will cause this little one to root about and attempt to nurse.

If the mother turns the head of her infant lying on his back, the infant’s arm extends, pointing involuntarily in the direction that the infant’s head is facing, thus opening to the nursing position.

The baby will grasp and latch her hands onto her mother, and characteristically will wrap all her little fingers around her mother’s or father’s finger. Some new babies are strong enough for a time to be lifted completely by two parental fingers when both their hands latch in this fashion.

A startled baby will extend or flail out his or her arms and legs, seeking a point of grasp or balance.

Each baby is thus born gifted with these and other specialized reflexes to survive, if not to thrive, by making immediate physical contact with a parent who is their presumed protector. Here is more information, with graphics, on infant reflexes.

These reflexes are also seen at work in late-term abortions, when the probe and vacuum of the abortionist stimulates the motion of the child. The child reaches out, but then flees from the pain. Instead of having his or her arm embraced and cuddled, her arm is dismembered as is the rest of her little body in a bloody conflagration. It is at this point that Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood facility director, reported that one abortionist said to the disintegrating child, “Beam me up, Scotty.”

This barbaric action of abortion is supported by progressive Catholics, by otherwise enlightened citizens, by certain population control fanatics, by hard-line feminists, by Chinese communist ideologues, by political, business, and labor leaders who care more about power than defending the innocent, by the ambitious or the lazy or the isolated or the uninformed or the afraid, and by the current President of the United States, Barack Obama.

To these I ask, How could you?

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Video — a Forced Abortion in China

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

If you don’t think government-forced abortions happen, think again.

Please take a look at this video report from Al-Jazeera, which interviewed the father, construction worker Luo Yanquan, and mother, Xiao Aiying, who, while 8 months pregnant, was kicked and dragged screaming from her home near Siming, China by a dozen people to a forced abortion by injection. Xiao Aiying reportedly delivered a still-born baby on 10/14/10, 40 hours after the attack.

More details can be found at the following news story.

When Paul VI in his 1968 Humanae Vitae urged governments to respect the rights of families–

Appeal to Public Authorities

23. And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined. The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God. For there are other ways by which a government can and should solve the population problem—that is to say by enacting laws which will assist families and by educating the people wisely so that the moral law and the freedom of the citizens are both safeguarded.

–sophisticated critics scoffed at predictions of government-forced abortions.

For further documentation of the scope of forced abortions in China, please see the book Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits, by Steven W. Mosher.

As recently as 2009, according to Chinese news sources, UN, Planned Parenthood, and other officials heaped praise on China’s family-planning policies.

If you’d like a different perspective on overpopulation, please see Overpopulation is a Myth.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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