On April 23, President Barack Obama commemorated with Elie Wiesel at the Capitol a historic event that shocked the world. In that occasion, the President said:
“It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.”
I don’t know about you, but I thought at first that President Obama was talking about abortion; it made me think of what is happening in the US and in the world with this issue. Wow, Mr. President, I thought, what a great comeback! But what President Obama was really speaking about was the Holocaust that took place under the Nazi regime.
So what is his formal position on abortion?
President Barack Obama said the following about abortion at his White House press conference on April 30: “I think there are some who suggest that this is simply an issue about women’s freedom and that there’s no other consideration. I think, look, this is an issue that people have to wrestle with, and families and individual women have to wrestle with.”
“The reason I’m pro-choice is because I don’t think women take that position casually. I think that they struggle with these decisions each and every day, and I think they are in a better position to make these decisions ultimately than members of Congress or a President of the United States — in consultation with their families, with their doctors, with their clergy. So that’s been my consistent position”.
Going deeper, what Obama really means is that he agrees that every single man and woman should make his or her own decisions, that every person is creator of his or her own hierarchy of values; that there’s no objective moral law outside of the inner realm of the person. That’s called subjectivism. But at the same time we could say that it’s also relativism, if relativism signifies contempt for fixed categories and denial of an objective, immortal truth.
The Holocaust really was the result of moral relativism. Let’s hear what Mussolini says about it in his Diuturna: “There is nothing more relativistic than fascistic attitudes and activity...From the fact that all ideologies are of equal value, that all ideologies are mere fictions, the modern relativist infers that everybody has the right to create for himself his own ideology and to attempt to enforce it with all the energy of which he is capable.”
One could reply that America is neither Fascist, nor Nazi; and it’s true, but America is buying into the philosophies that led Nazism to place innocent people into a gas chamber. Let’s formulate it in another way: what is the similarity between a human being in a Nazi gas chamber and another human being about to be aborted in its mother’s womb? I would say this: in both cases, their life depends on another’s subjectivism.
This way of thinking has developed over centuries and has given a certain form to the modern West. It comes from an apostate Christendom: that is, Europe and its intellectual colonies. But in the end it’s really a religious issue rather than a social one. The modern West is conceived of as a democratic, secular, pluralistic, scientific, technological, industrial, post-Enlightenment civilization. And one thing that the modern West denies is the teachings of religion, and especially Christianity. These teachings are seen as an external law, and as an eternal law. And that’s the reason they are moral absolutes. Let me quote Peter Kreeft about the “teachings that say, that in order to be saved, and to go to heaven, you need to repent. But you can’t repent if you don’t believe in sin to repent of, and you can’t believe in sin if you don’t believe in a real moral law, because sin means disobeying that. Moral relativism eliminates that law, thus sin, thus repentance, thus salvation”
Then at Notre Dame, on May 17, President Obama spoke of respecting the consciences of those Americans who are morally opposed to the “tragedy of abortion”. If for President Obama this is a tragedy, how could he support it? I guess he sees it as a tragedy of other people, and not as a personal one. But I would say that the tragedy lies in supporting the relativist philosophy: it is a tragedy not only for America, but for the entire world.
Brother Alejandro Herrera, of the Legionaries of Christ, studies for the priesthood in Rome.
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