Opinion: ‘Life was the Light of the Human Race’. Politics, Progress and Prudence


Deacon Keith Fournier

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) – This is the week in which the whole world pauses to commemorate the birth of the Word through whom the entire universe was created. That Word became flesh and dwelt among us, as one like us, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes “in all things but sin”. (Heb. 4:15)

As a Deacon of the Church I will have the honor of reading the Gospel throughout the Great Feast of the Nativity and all of its Liturgies. For the Liturgy of Christmas Day I will read these extraordinary words from the last Gospel:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1: 1 – 6)

It is the light revealed in the face of the Child in the Crèche which enables us to see things differently. When we do, we must also act differently. It gives us a greater responsibility as is underscored in the Gospel admonition that “to those to whom much is given, much more will be required.” (Luke 12:48) That action includes our language and our public discourse.

Lately - like millions who have watched with great alarm as the current senate version of the Health Reform bill failed to add language which would prevent federal funds from being used to fund the taking of innocent human life in the womb - I have experienced strong emotional reactions.

Let me be clear, my fundamental opposition to the current version of this reform bill coming out of the Senate is that it fails to protect the Right to Life of our first neighbors in the womb and fails to respect their human dignity.

I know there are other issues involved in analyzing this proposed legislation. Many of them raise very valid concerns which auger against the current proposal. For example the entire notion of federalizing the delivery of health services can be seriously questioned through an application of the principle of subsidiarity.

However, there is a hierarchy of principles which we should bring to such public policy analysis. The Fundamental Human Right, the Right to Life, is the first principle. Many who support the Reform package do so because they believe they are respecting human dignity. They do not believe that any person should be without health care. They do not include our youngest neighbors within their expressed concern for human dignity.We must pray for their conversion and work to protect those children.

Participation in politics is a part of faithful citizenship. It is a key element in our path to authentic progress and in fulfilling our obligation of building a truly just and civil nation worthy of the human person. However, that participation requires the exercise of prudence at every stage. That includes prudence in rhetoric, our language of discourse.

I recently wrote two articles concerning the fight to secure protection for the unborn by prohibiting the use of federal funds for abortion in any Health Care Reform. In them I addressed the Senator who was leading the efforts, Ben Nelson. In my first article, I applauded him for what appeared to be his heroic courage in standing against the formidable pressure to retreat from his Pro-Life position.

When he later voted to support the current version of the Senate Bill, I, like millions, was profoundly disappointed. That is because this version simply does not protect against this very use of public funds for voluntary abortion. However, in my second article I used an analogy, which even though it was used in a rhetorical and questioning manner, was imprudent. For that I apologize to the Senator.

Let me be clear, I absolutely oppose the current version of the Reform package which has come out of the Senate. My primary reason, it fails to prevent the use of federal funds from being used to kill innocent children in the womb. However, politics best progresses through the application of prudence in all areas, including the language of discourse.

As we move toward the great Feast of the Nativity when Christians proclaim the birth of the One whose life is the light of the world, let us pray for the courage we need to defend all human life, from conception to natural death. Let us redouble our efforts to build a new culture of life and civilization of love.

Let us also pray for those with whom we disagree. May the Life which is the light of all men and women be born anew within all of our hearts and our homes. May that light radiate outwards illuminating our National soul, giving us the character and courage we need to welcome all into our National family, including our first neighbors, children in the womb.