Monday, October 26, 2015

Dr. Ben Carson: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

UPDATE 10-25-15: Since this article was first published, Dr. Ben Carson has apparently progressed in his rhetoric. Although still open to abortion in case of health of the mother issues, he has walked back on his statements accepting abortion for instances of rape and incest. Let's pray this is sincere progress and not pandering.

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With the crowded Republican field, one would assume that someone will surely stand out as the pro-life candidate. After all, most if not all of them have spoken out against abortion. Yet, what appears to be pro-life on the surface doesn't necessarily make the cut once the details come to light.

Dr. Ben Carson: The Good

One example of such a candidate is Dr. Ben Carson. I've had the deepest respect for Dr. Carson for many years. His life story, in movie form, was outstanding. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story showed him to be a hardworking, virtuous man who was a pioneer in neurosurgery after overcoming enormous obstacles.

Later, I began to read his syndicated columns and was usually impressed by his ability to clearly express his morally sound principles. This soft-spoken man was both a genius and a spokesman of moral convictions.

Enter the 2016 Republican campaign. I was overjoyed to see Dr. Carson listed as a candidate. After all, what better protector of human dignity could there be - if not for the presidency, then certainly as vice-president. His respect for life and lack of racial prejudices made him an admirable prospect. Other views he holds, such as the support of marriage, as defined by God, also make him appealing to Christians.

When asked by an NPR reporter why he doesn't talk about race that often, Dr. Carson responded, "Because I'm a neurosurgeon. I operate on the thing that makes them who they are - the skin doesn't make them who they are, the hair doesn't make them who they are. And it's time that we move beyond that because our strength lies in unity. We're not the divided States of America, we're the United States of America."

Dr. Ben Carson: The Bad

Unfortunately, there have been some troubling disclosures since the time that I was fully enamored with Dr. Carson. The good thing for those of us who thoroughly research our candidates before giving them support, can be a really bad thing for them. As heartened as I was by his performance in the first Republican debate, these weren't his first words on some of the major topics.

The first glimmer of doubt came about when a research group found that Dr. Carson's name had appeared on a medical research paper that used fetal tissue from aborted babies. There was a prompt reply on Dr. Carson's Facebook page that quelled some of my unease:

I wanted to use our time tonight to directly deal with an attack launched on me today by the left and the media. A couple questions came in on this subject, so I want to address it head on.

Today I was accused by the press as having done research on fetal tissue. It simply is not true. The study they distributed by an anonymous source was done in 1992. The study was about tumors. I won’t bore you with the science. There were four doctors' names on the study. One was mine. I spent my life studying brain tumors and removing them. My only involvement in this study was supplying tumors that I had removed from my patients. Those tissue samples were compared to other tissue samples under a microscope. Pathologists do this work to gain clues about tumors.
I, nor any of the doctors involved with this study, had anything to do with abortion or what Planned Parenthood has been doing. Research hospitals across the country have microscope slides of all kinds of tissue to compare and contrast. The fetal tissue that was viewed in this study by others was not collected for this study.
I am sickened by the attack that I, after having spent my entire life caring for children, had something to do with aborting a child and harvesting organs. My medical specialty is the human brain and even I am amazed at what it is capable of doing. Please know these attacks are pathetic attempts to blunt our progress.

This explanation eased my troubled mind - until the next shoe fell. There's nothing like your own words to convict you.

In his defense of the use of aborted fetal tissue, Dr. Carson had this to say:
"To not use the tissue that is in a tissue bank, regardless of where it comes from, would be foolish. Why would anybody not do that?"

and then this . . .

"If it were the only way to do something and there was no other way, there might be an argument. But under these circumstances, there isn't a legitimate argument."

Dr. Carson also shows a lack of regard for parental rights. His support of mandatory vaccines demonstrates this fact. The fact that many standard vaccines contain aborted baby cell lines, making them morally repugnant, also doesn’t appear to concern him. Below you have the opportunity to hear him discuss his views, beginning at around the 1:57 mark.

Dr. Ben Carson: The Ugly

As troubling as I find mandatory vaccines to be (perhaps a topic for another day) because they usurp the God-given authority parents have over their children, this last bit of information eliminated Dr. Carson from my list of fitting presidential candidates. In addition, many standard vaccines are derived from aborted fetal stem lines, making them all the more troubling.

In the video below, Dr. Carson shares his support for the abortion pill, RU486, as well as admitting rape and incest exceptions to his purported pro-life position. He further goes on to say something that sounds as if he's okay with killing an unborn child 'as long as their heart isn't beating' - which would make that child between 18 and 20 days old.

As I lay out my priorities, when it comes to putting support behind a candidate for any political office, abortion and aborted fetal tissue use rises to the top. Other major issues would certainly include parental rights - especially at a time when they are being threatened from many directions. The fact that Dr. Carson agrees with other important, albeit lesser moral issues, falls to the wayside in light of these revelations. My conscience simply doesn't allow such tradeoff.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  A recent news story brought to light that Dr. Carson has referred women for abortion. Furthermore, his pro-life stance is shown to be a bit muddled when it goes beyond his personal stance.

Dr. Ben Carson: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly was first published at Catholic Stand.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Synod on the Family: Primacy of Conscience and Willful Ignorance

Disquieting words are dripping out of the leaky sieve that surrounds the Synod on the Family. We're hearing things like papal delegate Archbishop Blase Cupich's statement that people need to 'come to a decision in good conscience' when it comes to giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and civilly remarried. He further adds that the Church has the job to 'help them move forward and to respect that'. Past comments by German Cardinal Kasper, are also making the rounds. To the dismay of many, he has advocated for hot button topics ranging from homosexual lifestyles and communion for those civilly remarried, to acceptance of contraception.
Ignorance and Presumption
When hearing these statements attributed to various participants and observers of the synod one has to wonder what happened to the admonition for continued spiritual formation throughout one's life. Continuing catechesis is the only way to fully seek holiness and to become the saints God wants us to be. Willful ignorance is no excuse, since we have the ability and means to finely hone our consciences.
All care should be taken to refrain from the sin of Presumption, either relying on our own capacities or presuming God's almighty power and His mercy. Hoping to obtain His forgiveness, without allowing for the conversion of our souls or seeking glory without merit, will be of no benefit when it comes to the destiny of our immortal souls. CCC 2092
Is the Devil in the Details?
Sowing confusion among the faithful is further evidence that the devil must surely be in some of the details surrounding the Synod on the Family. Whether the source is those making the statements or those reporting (misreporting) what was said, we may never know. Therein lies the rub. Do we take these reported sentiments at face value and fear for the demise of the Church or is this where an unflinching faith in the Church, founded by Jesus Himself, comes to the rescue? Jesus has given us the answer.
And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Hope, Faith, Love
Lest we allow our faith in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church to succumb to hopelessness, let's give credence to the good also being shared.
Former head of Congregation for Divine Worship, Francis Cardinal Arinze said in a recent interview, "Marriage comes from God, not from human beings so human beings cannot reinvent or redefine it." Speaking of the indissolubility of marriage he continued, "Not even the authority of the Church can break it," he noted. Affirming that “the Eucharist is not something we possess”, Cardinal Arinze further said that “We must look for a way to help the divorced who are remarried, [but] we don’t help them by saying, “Come and receive Holy Communion.”
In his speech to the synod, Robert Cardinal Sarah, spoke of the need to Proclaim and serve the beauty of Monogamy and the Family. In order to accomplish this he said that we must “first promote all that represents a true Christian Initiation of adults, for the marriage crisis is essentially a crisis of God, but also a crisis of faith, and this is an infantile Christian initiation”. Lack of catechesis continues to be problematic for many baptized Catholics. Then discernment of “those realities that the Holy Spirit is already raising up to reveal” will show “the Truth of the Family as an intimate communion in diversity (man and woman) that is generous in the gift of life” – Robert Cardinal Sarah
While acknowledging the nefarious activities of some, it's comforting to know that many of the faithful are still staunchly defending Truth! We must also show love for those who may be straying from the righteous path. In all charity there must be fervent and sincere prayer for all involved.
Truth Will Win
A statement by Father Athanasius Schneider, one of the authors of Preferential Option for THE FAMILY: 100 Questions and Answers relating to the Synod, offers a call to action for those who fear the outcome.
“… Cardinals, bishops, priests, Catholic families, Catholic young people have to say to themselves: I refuse to conform to the neo-pagan spirit of this world, even when this spirit is spread by some bishops and cardinals; I will not accept their fallacious and perverse use of holy Divine mercy and the “new Pentecost”; I refuse to throw grains of incense before the statue of the idol of the gender ideology, before the idol of second marriages, of the concubinage, even if my bishop would do so, I will not do so; with the grace of God I will choose to suffer rather than betray the whole truth of Christ on human sexuality and on marriage."
What Will the Synod Bring?
In conclusion one thing stands out for us to remember about the Synod on the Family. The Catholic Church is not a democracy, nor is she subject to change through the whims of those who purport to speak for her. Jesus founded her; He alone gives the structure of her beliefs.
As Saint Pope John Paul II said in Evangelium Vitae, “No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.”
In a presentation to thirty-five American Archbishops (Rome, in March, 1989), Pope John Paul II firmly stated, "We are the guardians of something given, and given to the Church universal; something which is not the result of reflection, however competent, on cultural and social questions of the day, and is not merely the best path among many, but the one and only path to salvation." How pertinent to the issues at hand today!
Keep the Faith
Above all keep the Faith. As Australia’s Cardinal Pell responded to recent questions of apprehension, “One of my concerns is for doctrine, and the Pope has said the doctrine will not be touched.”
Sister Lucia of Fatima offers hope as well. “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid…because anyone who operates for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be contended and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue…however, Our Lady has already crushed its head. Sister Lucia dos Santos, of Fatima – in an interview with Cardinal Caffara of Bologna.
Our faith and trust lies in Jesus, through His Church, alone. No mere mortal can upend what we know through His Truth. Pray for those participating in the Synod on the Family, those reporting, and those who live in irregular life circumstances. The narrow path of Jesus' followers isn't always easy, it isn't always straight, but it does always lead to the reward of Heaven.