Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

“See the Victim”

Since Advent 2011 those of us who celebrate the Church’s divine liturgy in the Roman rite have made use of a new English translation, one that is more faithful to the original Latin text.  For the most part, I have appreciated these changes in that they have helped to restore a greater sense of reverence and dignity to the Mass – a sense that was at times lacking in the celebration of the Novus Ordo with the English translation that appeared shortly after the Council.

There are, however, a few instances in which the more sparse language of the 1970 translation resonates in a way that is lost in the more accurate, though more formal and ornate language of the new translation.

Take for example the epiclesis to Eucharistic Prayer III (A side by side comparison is available here).  At this point in the Mass the Church prays to the Father for unity – that those who share in Christ’s Body and Blood will be filled with the Holy Spirit and “become one body, one spirit in Christ.”  In the subordinate clause that precedes this, the language of the two translations is somewhat different.  Whereas the new translation asks the Father to look “upon the oblation of your Church . . . recognizing the sacrificial victim by whose death you willed to reconcile us to yourself” the 1970 translation simply asks the Father to “see the victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself.”

“See the victim.”

This simple declarative phrase urges God the Father to see our offering – Christ himself.  But it is not simply a prayer to the Father.  It is also an exhortation to the faithful to see Jesus, to see the Crucified One, to see the price of their redemption.

“See the victim.”

Notwithstanding the mainstream media’s calculated lack of interest in the trial of Kermit Gosnell (a lack of interest catalogued in the links contained here), the horrors exposed in the conviction of the Philadelphia abortionist have broken through – in part through the use of social media (see here), in part through the integrity of some journalists who shamed their peers out of a silence that seemed inexplicable apart from ideology (see here, here, and here). Though Kermit Gosnell (don't call him "doctor" – that’s not what you call murderers behind bars) was apparently dumbfounded (here) that he was convicted for simply trying to finish the job of ensuring “fetal demise” (Grand Jury Report p. 4), Gosnell has been found guilty of first-degree murder three times over.

“See the victim.”

Of course for there to be a crime there must be a victim.  Here there were several victims: an adult woman who sadly chose abortion and was given a drug overdose by a quack and his untrained staff, and of course several babies who were delivered only to have their spinal cords “snipped” even as they struggled for life.  They did not suddenly become “babies” in the act of being born, if by “baby” we mean “human being.”  “Baby” is a term we typically (though not uniformly) reserve for human off-spring who can interact with others outside the womb.  Sadly, the first interaction with adults that these children experienced was to die a savage death – to suffer as victims sacrificed on the altar of “choice.”  But their status as human beings long preceded their deaths and their births.  It began when they began, seven or eight or nine months prior.

It is not in the interests of those who profit from child murder to see any child victim where “fetal demise” is secured.  Thus, in an attempt to spin the Gosnell verdict in a kind of legal jujitsu, NARAL’s president Ilyse Hogue issued a statement (here) placing blame for the Gosnell affair on attempts to regulate abortion.  According to Hogue, the lessons to be learned from the Gosnell trial are that the “unrelenting efforts” of “anti-choice” politicians “to deny women access to safe and legal abortion care, will only drive more women to back-alley butchers like Kermit Gosnell.”

The maneuver fails, of course, in that Hogue’s claim is exactly wrong.  Gosnell was allowed to operate with impunity for decades not because of an abundance of regulation but because of the near total absence of any government oversight – an absence that the abortion industry has tenaciously worked to secure.

What is absent from the NARAL statement – shamefully but predictably absent – is any acknowledgement of the victims – of the children murdered by Gosnell.  And the reason for this is obvious – because NARAL and its partners in the crime of in utero child murder (like the National Abortion Federation and Planned Parenthood) have the same blood on their hands.  They may not preserve their victims in jars, like trophies, as Gosnell did, but the same blood of the innocents stains their hands, and their balance sheets, and the whole country, making a mockery of the rule of law.

“See the victim.”

If there is any good that can come from the tragic loss of life brought to light in the Gosnell trial it is this: the humanity of the child-victim of abortion.  This humanity is clear whether the child is delivered through a botched abortion and then killed by “snipping” or murdered while still developing in his or her mother’s womb.

The identity the child in utero or ex utero – his or her empirical status as a human being – does not change with a change in location.  To say otherwise would be to claim that one’s humanity depended upon being born in a free-state or a slave-state, or being transported from one to another and back again (see here).  Location may be a relevant fact under a corrupt and morally indefensible legal regime, but the law should reflect the reality that most people intuit and that science confirms.

The entity developing in the womb is a human being, not a clump of undifferentiated cells – as the hucksters who peddle “choice” would have the public believe (see here).  Rather the developing child – whether in utero or ex utero – is a human being – one of us!

The purveyors of abortion fear that the Gosnell trial will actually urge the public to take notice of this fact.  Those who purport to take Catholic social teaching seriously should work to see that it remains ever present in the public eye – that the first question asked of those do the bloodletting (and are paid for it) should be “Is the being whose ‘demise’ you seek a human being?”

The children whom Gosnell murdered and for which he has been convicted – as well as the thousands of other children who died at his hands and the millions more who have died at the hands of other abortionists ask for only one thing: They ask to be seen for who they are.

“See the victim.”



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