Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Happy Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus! The 1983 Code of Canon Law—building on what Paul VI called “the grave and urgent problem” of reminding Catholics about “the significance and importance of the divine precept of penitence”—states that “abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the episcopal conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday”. So, today being a solemnity, eat a hamburger!

Another “grave and urgent problem” in our world today is violence against innocent children, including prenatal babies. In the Book of Genesis, the first sin after Adam and Eve introduced sinfulness into human nature was a murder: Cain killed his own brother, Abel. In the Book of Exodus, the very first murderous sin is pharaoh’s genocidal violence against the babies of the Hebrews (the descendants of Israel). Similarly, the very first murderous sin recorded after the nativity of Christ was the pretender-king Herod’s violence against—once again—babies. As an adult, Christ would compare eternal damnation to Gehenna, the little strip of land next to the House of God where the wayward sons of Israel offered their own babies as holocausts to the demonic Moloch.

So, the story of mankind is a story of violence, marked at the most critical points by violence against children.

The Church still has much to answer for in failing to protect children from predatory priests. Sexual predation is violence. Sexual predation against children is, therefore, violence against children. Progress has been made in terms of policies and procedures, but mostly in response to persistent pressure from outside journalists and lawyers. What’s still needed is better leadership. We need leaders with genuine, inner comprehension of the lasting trauma of authoritative violence directed against children.

Abortion is the preferred form of violence against children in America, with abortuaries having largely replaced orphanages as the preferred destination for unwanted babies. And this violence so deforms our thinking that seven men on the Supreme Court once ruled abortion to be a constitutional right.

Contraception is related to abortion. As Saint John Chrysostom put it back in the 4th century, “indeed, it is something worse than murder, and I do not know what to call it; for she does not kill what is formed but prevents its formation. What then? Do you condemn the gift of God?” Contraception distorts our perception of the hand of God creating and sustaining life, and so contraception makes us more open to direct violence against children.

The hereditary slavery practiced against Africans with black skin, and extended through Jim Crow segregation, is another cousin of abortion. This kind of slavery was built upon babies, for it was merely by being the baby of a slave that one became a slave. It was as a baby that one found oneself condemned for life to the violence of captivity, forced labor and broken families.

So, mankind is violent, especially against babies, and the United States of America has made its own contributions to this violence.

But the USA also struggled against such manifestations of mankind’s violent nature. From the days of the 18th century Framers to 19th century Emancipation, decent Americans called slavery what it really was, violence, and worked to end it. From that day in 1973 when the US Supreme Court ruled against the “Laws of Nature” (to which the Founders once appealed) in its infamous Roe versus Wade decision, to today, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Year of Our Lord 2022, decent Americans have called abortion what it is: violence against innocent human life, and have worked to restore interpretation of constitutional law—and enactment of state legislation—to a harmonious position relative to the Natural Law.

As Pope Paul VI put it in 1972, “if you want peace, then work for justice”. Today, finally, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of justice, and so with accompanying state laws meant to protect innocent prenatal life from the violence of abortion, there will be peace in our land.

We still hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these unalienable rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God bless America!

Father Shelton