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The words “hate,” “bigotry” and “intolerance” are mis- and over-used. But that makes it more important that we speak out against the real thing when it’s there.
I’m so glad that he spoke out.
But let me also hasten to add that we shouldn’t leave it to the President to remind us of the need to condemn hate and evil – that’s the job of the Church.
The past few months have witnessed, to borrow from Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming,” a “rough beast” slouching to be born. That “rough beast” is open, and sometimes violent, expressions of bigotry and intolerance.
Now Christians have ample reasons to be wary of those words “bigotry” and “intolerance,” since we’re often unjustly accused of both. But to use the medieval Latin phrase, “abusus non tollit usum,” the misuse of something does not negate its proper use. There are such things as bigotry and intolerance.
Some of it, such as Texas high school students taunting their Hispanic opponents at a basketball game with chants of “build that wall!” are easy to rationalize as youthful hi-jinks, until you put yourself, as Jesus commands us to, in the shoes of the kids being taunted.
Other examples, such as the killing of an Indian-born engineer, and the wounding of two other people by a man who had earlier yelled “get out of my country!” are impossible to ignore. The fact that the man may been under the influence of alcohol when he pulled the trigger does not make the crime less troubling.
While alcohol lowers inhibitions, it doesn’t create the impulses being inhibited in the first place. To quote another Latin phrase, “in vino veritas,” or wine brings out the truth.
Likewise, the vandalizing of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Rochester, New York, along with bomb threats against 120 Jewish Community Centers across the country is nothing less than alarming.
And it’s not just Jewish Community Centers. In the past two months, four mosques have been deliberately set on fire.
The good news is that, amidst all this hate, we have seen examples of grace: Two American Muslims raised over $140,000 to repair the damage done to Jewish cemeteries, and Muslim veterans have vowed to protect Jewish cemeteries. As one veteran tweeted, “If your synagogue or Jewish cemetery needs someone to stand guard, count me in. Islam requires it.”
Strictly speaking, while I am thankful for his words, I am not sure that it does. But there is no questions about Christianity. As Paul says in Acts 17, God determines when and where we live. And as Esther so courageously demonstrated in difficult times, silence is not an option.
July 23, 2013 (Breakpoint) – Fr. Thomas Vander Woude, pastor at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia, has a special place in his heart for children born with Down syndrome. His recent parish campaign to save one such life grabbed headlines. But to understand this story, and why these children are so special to Fr. Vander Woude, you need to know another story. This one blew me away.
Earlier this month, Fr. Vander Woude got wind of a young couple in another state whose unborn child had been diagnosed with Down syndrome. The couple made the decision close to ninety percent of parents in their shoes make—to abort their special needs baby. Because the pregnancy was almost six months along, they had just days before the legal cutoff for abortions in their state. But Father Vander Woude had other ideas.
He contacted the parents and convinced them to hold off just a little longer, while he and a volunteer sent messages via the church’s social network accounts, pleading for a family willing to adopt the baby and save its life.
The next morning, the calls and emails began—over 900, in fact—some from as far away as England and The Netherlands, ready to make the life-changing decision to adopt a special needs child. As the torrent subsided, three of the families were placed in contact with the expectant parents and an adoption agency for interviews.
You would think this outpouring of love and acceptance for a child nine out of ten American couples consider unworthy of life would impress pro-choicers—especially those who repeat the tired accusation that pro-lifers care only about children in the womb, not after they’re born.
Well, I’m sad to say pro-abortion activists at the blog Jezebel wasted no time in heaping scorn on Father Vander Woude and the hundreds who responded to his call. One Jezebel blogger accused him of pressuring this woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy by “crowdsourcing an adoptive family.”
“[A]nti-abortion folks,” she cedes, “care more about fetuses with fairytale narratives than actual babies.”
Folks, these charges are simply ridiculous, especially now that pregnancy care centers designed to offer help and create options for women and children in crisis outnumber abortion clinics in the United States almost 2-to-1, and with so many families lining up to adopt.
But this particular accusation that Father Vander Woude and his Twitter followers care nothing about older children with Down syndrome rings especially hollow. You see, this priest isn’t the first person in his own family to snatch a victim of Down syndrome from certain death.
His father, Thomas, Sr., died in 2008 after leaping into a septic tank to save his youngest son, Joseph, who had fallen in. According to sources at the time, Thomas, 66, allowed himself to sink beneath the sewage while holding 20-year-old Joseph above his head until rescuers arrived. Joseph has Down syndrome. His father died so that his special needs son would live.
It seems Fr. Vander Woude, who officiated his dad’s funeral, inherited a pro-life view that is not just intellectually true, but one of action. His father would be proud.
The groundswell of families who responded to this plea for adoption are putting feet to their pro-life views, while at the same time showing how wildly out-of-touch with reality abortion apologists have become.
This story also reveals how we might hope to return what Pope Benedict called a “culture of death” to a “culture of life.” It requires doing and saying. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote to his former seminarians, “Not in the flight of ideas, but only in action is freedom. Make up your mind and come out into the tempest of the living.”