Dear Readers,

In March of 2014 I posted a summary of my posts regarding The Gabriel Project. I feel compelled to ask those of you were not reading my blog at that time to read that particular post and all of the references it contains. I also extend a plea to those who have read it and/or will now read it (including the referenced web pages), to take action within their respective Catholic dioceses with the goal of implementing The Gabriel Project or helping one that may exist to grow and flourish.

With the vast amount of attention that I have given to the issue of abortion over the past decade plus, I have never come across a ministry having anywhere near the potential of building a culture of life as does The Gabriel Project.

Fredi and precious April

Fredi & Baby April (Saved on Sidewalk 2005)

The very reason I became interested in The Gabriel Project was the fact that there was not (in my area) sufficient help for pregnant mothers. This observation goes back to Feb of 2003, when I began to reach out to pregnant mothers outside abortion facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had done research as to where I could refer them to obtain the assistance they needed. Certainly, I did find some organizations (few and far between pregnancy resource centers) that would guide them to choose birth for their child rather than abortion, and over these many years, I had attempted to refer thousands of abortion minded mothers to those organizations.

GP logo 2

Fredi and others speak on The Gabriel Project (click on image above)

But I knew with certainty that many mothers needed more help than what was available and that a Gabriel Project, which was modeled after those founded in Texas in 1990/91, could provide that necessary extended help. So I did something about it. You can too and I would be happy to assist you.

Below is a link to a document I prepared more recently as a reference for bishops and pastors. It would be a good start for those of you who would like to take my plea seriously.

The Extraordinary Gabriel Project

Summary of my posts regarding The Gabriel Project

+Thank you and God bless, Fredi D’Alessio

Gabriel Project Information Center

 

Excerpts from from “The Next Synod is a Battle between Christ and the Antichrist: – On whose side will you stand?” at ROATE CAELI (emphasis in bold is mine)

Alessandro Gnocchi continues to be one of best commentators on the present state of the Church.  The following excerpt from his column in La Riscossa Cristiana is an example of his determination to see things as they are. Gnocchi uses strong words that provoke thought:

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Pilate, who prefers to remain a friend of Caesar, never stops looking for fellow travelers.

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But now allow me to offer some considerations on the subject of one of the little jingle tunes that are often whistled by those Catholics who say that they want to oppose the drift to liberalism and in reality do nothing except to chase after it and are always being a step behind. I will limit myself to speaking of this one jingle, which is the following:  “it is always better to do something even if it is not perfect than to do nothing.” These Catholics, who perhaps should be more accurately called Catholics-lite [cattolichetti] because of the tune they are always whistling, have lost sight of the posture that the Catholic should always assume in confrontations with the world. In this way, by persisting in colluding and cooperating with the world, they have dulled their spiritual sense to the point where they are not able to comprehend the gravity of the times in which we live.

They take delight in idealistic political plans of action, while what is really going on is a war between Christ and the Antichrist on a scale never seen before, where the survival of the Catholic faith is at stake. I repeat: we are in a battle to preserve the Catholic faith, and all the battles being fought on various fronts, even those that are so important like moral truth, are only the terrain of confrontation in a war that is much deeper, involving metaphysics and religion.  The most important thing in play is faith.  But faith is preserved whole and intact or it is lost.  You cannot preserve just parts of it according to taste or expediency.

The choices that are made regarding crucial elements of moral teaching, which touch upon human nature itself, are the sign that will show whether faith will resist or yield.  Because whatever accommodation, even one that is conceived as done for the good or perhaps using the moth-eaten concept of the “less bad”, represents an accommodation of the faith: a betrayal of Christ in favor of the Antichrist.  The world of today does not need a law that is a little less bad than another because, as the lite Catholics say, “it is better to do something, even if it is not perfect, than to do nothing”.  We are not fighting a battle to give something less bad to the world, but to remain faithful to Christ and his teaching, and only He can save the world.

This is what has made the Synod on the Family recently concluded so dramatic an event and will make the next one even more so.  What happened and will happen, will be not only a face-off between two different schools of thought, but the face-off between those who intend to preserve the Catholic faith as a whole and those who want to change it.

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Four doctors have signed a declaration stating Jahi McMath is not brain dead. The family attorney Chris Dolan says he will petition the California Secretary of State to rescind the death certificate. From the N.J.com:

“Dolan provided NJ Advance Media with signed declarations from four doctors, including Charles J. Prestigiacomo, director of Cerebrovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery at University Hospital in Newark and chair of the neurological surgery department at Rutgers, stating that McMath isn’t brain dead.” Please click here to read the N.J.com story and view an interview between Dave Hutchinson and Jahi’s family attorney.

RELATED: *Brain Death

By: Msgr. Charles Pope (posted with permission – source)

Recent and persistent attacks by radical Muslims, especially the most recent beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians, have many asking what can or should be done to end such atrocities. Military actions by numerous countries, including our own, are already underway. Most feel quite justified in these actions and many are calling for more concerted efforts to eliminate ISIS and related zealots who seem to know no pity, no reason, and no limits. I do not write here to opine on the need for or limits on military action. I only point to the “just war” teaching of the Church as a guide for such actions. Obviously, there is a clear and present threat that needs to be repulsed, even with force.

But perhaps, too, given our present experiences, we should not be so quick to condemn the similar outrage and calls for action that came from Christians of the Middle Ages, who also suffered widespread atrocities. The Crusades were a reaction to something very awful and threatening, something that needed to be forcefully repulsed. Many if not most of the great saints from that period called for Crusades, preaching them and supporting them. This includes the likes of St. Bernard, St. Catherine of Sienna, and St. Francis of Assisi.

Seldom are historical events identical to present realities. But our current experiences give us a small taste of what Christians, from the 8th century through the Middle Ages, experienced. Their response need not be seen as sinless or wholly proper. Armed conflict seldom ends without atrocities, a good reason to set it as the very last recourse. Most popular presentations of the Crusades are arguably more influenced by anti-Catholic bigotry than historical fact.

With all this in mind, I’d like to look at the Crusades using excerpts from an article by Paul Crawford, published a few years back at First Principles, entitled, Four Myths About the Crusades. In the excerpts that follow, his text is in bold, black italics, while my comments are in plain red text. The full text of his excellent, though lengthy article can be read by clicking the link above.

For a longer treatment of this subject, please see Steve Weidenkopf’s book  The Glory of the Crusades, recently published at Catholic Answers.

For now, let’s examine Crawford’s article and detail four myths of the Crusades:

Myth #1: The crusades represented an unprovoked attack by Western Christians on the Muslim world.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and even a cursory chronological review makes that clear. In a.d. 632, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa, Spain, France, Italy, and the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica were all Christian territories. Inside the boundaries of the Roman Empire, which was still fully functional in the eastern Mediterranean, orthodox Christianity was the official, and overwhelmingly majority, religion. Outside those boundaries were other large Christian communities—not necessarily orthodox and Catholic, but still Christian. Most of the Christian population of Persia, for example, was Nestorian. Certainly there were many Christian communities in Arabia.

By a.d. 732, a century later, Christians had lost Egypt, Palestine, Syria, North Africa, Spain, most of Asia Minor, and southern France. Italy and her associated islands were under threat, and the islands would come under Muslim rule in the next century. The Christian communities of Arabia were entirely destroyed in or shortly after 633, when Jews and Christians alike were expelled from the peninsula. Those in Persia were under severe pressure. Two-thirds of the formerly Roman Christian world was now ruled by Muslims.

What had happened? … The answer is the rise of Islam. Every one of the listed regions was taken, within the space of a hundred years, from Christian control by violence, in the course of military campaigns deliberately designed to expand Muslim territory. … Nor did this conclude Islam’s program of conquest. … Charlemagne blocked the Muslim advance in far western Europe in about a.d. 800, but Islamic forces simply shifted their focus … toward Italy and the French coast, attacking the Italian mainland by 837. A confused struggle for control of southern and central Italy continued for the rest of the ninth century and into the tenth. … [A]ttacks on the deep inland were launched. Desperate to protect victimized Christians, popes became involved in the tenth and early eleventh centuries in directing the defense of the territory around them. … The Byzantines took a long time to gain the strength to fight back. By the mid-ninth century, they mounted a counterattack. … Sharp Muslim counterattacks followed …

In 1009, a mentally deranged Muslim ruler destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and mounted major persecutions of Christians and Jews. … Pilgrimages became increasingly difficult and dangerous, and western pilgrims began banding together and carrying weapons to protect themselves as they tried to make their way to Christianity’s holiest sites in Palestine.

Desperate, the Byzantines sent appeals for help westward, directing these appeals primarily at the person they saw as the chief western authority: the pope, who, as we have seen, had already been directing Christian resistance to Muslim attacks. … finally, in 1095, Pope Urban II realized Pope Gregory VII’s desire, in what turned into the First Crusade.

Far from being unprovoked, then, the crusades actually represent the first great western Christian counterattack against Muslim attacks which had taken place continually from the inception of Islam until the eleventh century, and which continued on thereafter, mostly unabated. Three of Christianity’s five primary episcopal sees (Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria) had been captured in the seventh century; both of the others (Rome and Constantinople) had been attacked in the centuries before the crusades. The latter would be captured in 1453, leaving only one of the five (Rome) in Christian hands by 1500. Rome was again threatened in the sixteenth century. This is not the absence of provocation; rather, it is a deadly and persistent threat, and one which had to be answered by forceful defense if Christendom were to survive.

It is difficult to underestimate the losses suffered by the Church in the waves of Muslim conquest. All of North Africa, once teeming with Christians, was conquered. There were once 500 bishops in North Africa. Today, the Christian Church there exists only in ruins buried beneath the sand and with titular but non-residential bishops. All of Asia Minor, so lovingly evangelized by St. Paul, was lost. Much of Southern Europe was almost lost as well. It is hard to imagine any alternative to decisive military action in order to turn back waves of Muslim attack and conquest.

Myth #2: Western Christians went on crusade because their greed led them to plunder Muslims in order to get rich.

Again, not true. Few crusaders had sufficient cash both to pay their obligations at home and to support themselves decently on a crusade. From the very beginning, financial considerations played a major role in crusade planning. The early crusaders sold off so many of their possessions to finance their expeditions that they caused widespread inflation. Although later crusaders took this into account and began saving money long before they set out, the expense was still nearly prohibitive.

One of the chief reasons for the foundering of the Fourth Crusade, and its diversion to Constantinople, was the fact that it ran out of money before it had gotten properly started, and was so indebted to the Venetians that it found itself unable to keep control of its own destiny. Louis IX’s Seventh Crusade in the mid-thirteenth century cost more than six times the annual revenue of the crown.

The popes resorted to ever more desperate ploys to raise money to finance crusades, from instituting the first income tax in the early thirteenth century to making a series of adjustments in the way that indulgences were handled that eventually led to the abuses condemned by Martin Luther.

In short: very few people became rich by crusading, and their numbers were dwarfed by those who were bankrupted. Most medieval people were quite well aware of this, and did not consider crusading a way to improve their financial situations.

Crawford states elsewhere that plunder was often allowed or overlooked when Christian armies conquered, in order that some bills could be paid. Sadly, plunder was commonly permitted in ancient times, but it was not unique to Christians. Here again, we may wish that Christian sentiments would have meant no plunder at all, but war is seldom orderly, and the motives of every individual solider cannot be perfectly controlled.

The bottom line remains that conducting a crusade was a lousy way to get rich or to raise any money at all.

Myth #3: Crusaders were a cynical lot who did not really believe their own religious propaganda; rather, they had ulterior, materialistic motives.

This has been a very popular argument, at least from Voltaire on. It seems credible and even compelling to modern people, steeped as they are in materialist worldviews. And certainly there were cynics and hypocrites in the Middle Ages—medieval people were just as human as we are, and subject to the same failings.

However, like the first two myths, this statement is generally untrue, and demonstrably so. For one thing, the casualty rates on the crusades were usually very high, and many if not most crusaders left expecting not to return. At least one military historian has estimated the casualty rate for the First Crusade at an appalling 75 percent, for example.

But this assertion is also revealed to be false when we consider the way in which the crusades were preached. Crusaders were not drafted. Participation was voluntary, and participants had to be persuaded to go. The primary means of persuasion was the crusade sermon. Crusade sermons were replete with warnings that crusading brought deprivation, suffering, and often death … would disrupt their lives, possibly impoverish and even kill or maim them, and inconvenience their families.

So why did the preaching work? It worked because crusading was appealing precisely because it was a known and significant hardship, and because undertaking a crusade with the right motives was understood as an acceptable penance for sin … valuable for one’s soul. The willing acceptance of difficulty and suffering was viewed as a useful way to purify one’s soul.

Related to the concept of penance is the concept of crusading as an act of selfless love, of “laying down one’s life for one’s friends.”

As difficult as it may be for modern people to believe, the evidence strongly suggests that most crusaders were motivated by a desire to please God, expiate their sins, and put their lives at the service of their “neighbors,” understood in the Christian sense.

Yes, such concepts ARE difficult for modern Westerners to believe. Since we are so secular and cynical, the thought of spiritual motives strikes us as implausible. But a great Cartesian divide, with its materialist reductionism, separates the Modern West from the Middle Ages and Christian antiquity.  Those were days when life in this world was brutal and short. Life here was “a valley of tears” to be endured as a time of purification preparing us to meet God. Spiritual principles held much more sway than they do today.

Myth #4: The crusades taught Muslims to hate and attack Christians.

Muslims had been attacking Christians for more than 450 years before Pope Urban declared the First Crusade. They needed no incentive to continue doing so. But there is a more complicated answer here, as well.

The first Muslim crusade history did not [even] appear until 1899. By that time, the Muslim world was rediscovering the crusades—but it was rediscovering them with a twist learned from Westerners. In the modern period, there were two main European schools of thought about the crusades. One school, epitomized by people like Voltaire, Gibbon, and Sir Walter Scott, and in the twentieth century Sir Steven Runciman, saw the crusaders as crude, greedy, aggressive barbarians who attacked civilized, peace-loving Muslims to improve their own lot. The other school, more romantic, saw the crusades as a glorious episode in a long-standing struggle in which Christian chivalry had driven back Muslim hordes.

So it was not the crusades that taught Islam to attack and hate Christians. … Rather, it was the West which taught Islam to hate the crusades.

Yes, this is the strange, self-loathing tendency of the dying West to supply our detractors and would-be destroyers with ample reason to detest us.

I am interested in your thoughts. I don’t think it is necessary to defend the Church’s and the Christian West’s series of Crusades vehemently. There are many regrettable things that accompany any war. But fair is fair; there is more to the picture than many, with anti-Church agendas of their own, wish to admit.

And to those secularists and atheists who love to point out “how many have died as a result of religious wars and violence,” I say, “Recall how many died in the 20th century for secular ideological reasons.” English historian Paul Johnson, in his book Modern Times, places the number at 1oo million.

Does this excuse even one person dying as the result of religious war? No. But violence, war, conquest,  and territorial disputes are human problems not necessarily or only religious ones. Our current sufferings at the hands of radical Muslims show the problem with simply doing nothing. Life is complex; not all decisions are perfect or precisely carried out. Lord, help us, and by miracle convert our enemies.

Painting above: The Preaching of the Crusades from Wikipedia Commons

This video shows some of the Christian ruins in North Africa, including the See of St Cyprian of Carthage:

 

The following are excerpts taken from “Some Efficacious Vaccines are Produced Unethically” by Dr. Jay Carpenter. I recommend reading the full article at Crisis Magazine.

In recent days a controversy has arisen over whether parents should be required to vaccinate their children. Some politicians with presidential aspirations were criticized for defending the rights of parents to make that decision. As an internal medicine doctor, I believe strongly in the efficacy of vaccines. I also believe strongly that our vaccines (and all of our medical advances) should be safe and derived in a morally principled fashion.

There is an ethical concern about the measles vaccine issue that I do not believe the American public is aware: a component of the current MMR vaccine is derived from an aborted fetal cell line. As such, there is a large group of Americans who will not avail themselves of this “tainted” therapy.  The unfortunate truth is that there are ethical, morally acceptable alternative vaccines that are simply not made available to Americans.

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Prior to 2009, Merck, the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine used in the U.S. and in many other countries, made available individually separate vaccines for mumps and measles that were derived from the ethically acceptable sources as described. In 2009, they stopped making these vaccines available, despite reassurances to the contrary. Since then, Merck has refused to license these vaccines to other companies who were interested in making them available to the public. It has been since 2009 that the incidence of measles in this country has risen, so it is not inconceivable that legitimate ethical concerns have been at least one factor for the decline in the rate of measles vaccination.

The ethical problem is not isolated to the MMR vaccine. Cell lines from aborted fetuses are used in the vaccines for Hepatitis A, chicken pox, shingles, rabies, some small pox vaccines, some polio vaccines, some combination polio vaccines such as Pentacel and Quadracel, and in some of the new Ebola vaccines. Additionally aborted fetal cells are utilized in some treatments for hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The fact is, that none of these need to come from such sources, but could be made from other cell lines readily available in research circles.

For instance, the Kitasato Institute in Japan makes MMR vaccines that are ethically acceptable. Regrettably, the FDA decided not to allow their importation into the United States. Individuals can travel to Japan to receive these vaccines, but obviously, that is not a sensible solution to improving vaccination rates significantly.

Politicians and some in the media have suggested mandating vaccinations of children against the moral objections of their parents. Those same public figures would serve us better by helping to promote the manufacture or importation of vaccines that are derived ethically. Parents and their children deserve wholesome untainted vaccine alternatives to promote the health and the safety of their children.

RELATED: VACCINES 

Excerpts from Roate Caeli and St. Pope John Paul II:

… it is a solemn duty of Christians, yes, of every confirmed Christian, to bear witness to the truth in season and out of season, and to cry out like St. Catherine of Siena when good is called evil and evil, good.

Pope John Paul II had seen the trends of our times and anticipated what was coming. He wrote with unmistakable clarity and courage in Veritatis Splendor (n. 88 and n. 93):

It is urgent then that Christians should rediscover the newness of the faith and its power to judge a prevalent and all-intrusive culture. As the Apostle Paul admonishes us: “Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light (for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them… Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:8-11, 15-16; cf. 1 Th 5:4-8).

This witness [of martyrs to the exceptionless moral law] makes an extraordinarily valuable contribution to warding off, in civil society and within the ecclesial communities themselves, a headlong plunge into the most dangerous crisis which can afflict man: the confusion between good and evil, which makes it impossible to build up and to preserve the moral order of individuals and communities. By their eloquent and attractive example of a life completely transfigured by the splendour of moral truth, the martyrs and, in general, all the Church’s Saints, light up every period of history by reawakening its moral sense. By witnessing fully to the good, they are a living reproof to those who transgress the law (cf. Wis 2:12), and they make the words of the Prophet echo ever afresh: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Is 5:20).

Anyone who reads (or re-reads) this great encyclical will see how deeply the Church today is mired in a state of civil war over the fundamentals of morality and of the Gospel itself. We are not looking at a mere disagreement over words or “pastoral strategies”; it is precisely the battle between the Catholics, who still believe exactly what Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught as the saving truth, and the modernists who, with a magician’s sleight-of-hand, explain it away, in deference to “modern man” and his needs (or more accurately, desires). By the Providence of God, it seems we are being forced at last, slowly and against our will, into the two sides depicted in the Apocalypse of John: the faithful who will cling to Christ even at the cost of their lives, and the worldly who will pay lip-service to Christ while they serve Babylon.

As was his beautiful custom in every major document, Pope John Paul II ends Veritatis Splendor (n. 120) with tender yet forceful words inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy:

Mary shares our human condition, but in complete openness to the grace of God. Not having known sin, she is able to have compassion on every kind of weakness. She understands sinful man and loves him with a mother’s love. Precisely for this reason she is on the side of truth and shares the Church’s burden in recalling always and to everyone the demands of morality. Nor does she permit sinful man to be deceived by those who claim to love him by justifying his sin, for she knows that the sacrifice of Christ her Son would thus be emptied of its power. No absolution offered by beguiling doctrines, even in the areas of philosophy and theology, can make man truly happy: only the Cross and the glory of the Risen Christ can grant peace to his conscience and salvation to his life.

By JoAnna Wahlund (posted with permission – original source)

Readers, please do not write me off as a rabid “anti-vaxxer,” because I am not opposed to vaccines in general, nor do I dispute their medical efficacy. My kids have received DTAP and all other ethically-sourced vaccines. I only wish to explore the moral choices that we, as Catholics, have to make regarding the use of unethically-sourced vaccines. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that vaccines do work as intended and do not cause cancer, autism, or anything else of which they are accused. (And please ignore anyone in the combox who tries to make those claims, because God knows there are plenty of other places online to debate that subject.)

I AM NOT ADVOCATING A POSITION FOR OR AGAINST THE USE OF UNETHICALLY-SOURCED VACCINES. All people must make their own decisions for themselves and their families according to the dictates of their own well-formed conscience. I’m simply writing about my own struggle with this issue.

I’ve been troubled recently at the social media vitriol directed toward people who, for whatever reason, have chosen not to vaccinate themselves or their children. I’m also concerned about the vitriol I witness from people who haven’t vaccinated directed toward those who have. I’m especially perplexed when that vitriol is committed by self-professed Catholics and directed toward other Catholics – we’re supposed to be better than that.

I’ve agonized over the issue of the use of unethically-sourced vaccines since I found out about them in 2004, when I was pregnant with my oldest child and started researching vaccines in general. I found the website of Children of God for Life and read about the existence and use of vaccines derived from aborted fetal stem cell lines.

I’ve read the position of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which says that while parents may use the vaccines, and may in some cases even have a moral obligation to do so, there is also the obligation to protest their use and to conscientiously object if necessary.

I’ve read the position of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, in which they state, “There would seem to be no proper grounds for refusing immunization against dangerous contagious disease, for example, rubella, especially in light of the concern that we should all have for the health of our children, public health, and the common good.”

However, they also say, “There is no moral obligation to register such a complaint in order to use these vaccines.” That is not strictly true, however, according to what the Pontifical Academy of Life says – according to Phil Lawler’s analysis of the statement, people who use the vaccines are in fact morally obligated to object to them as strenuously as possible.

I’ve read Immunity From Evil?: Vaccines Derived from Abortion by Dr. Jameson Taylor, which disagrees with several of the points from the NCBC article as well as gives disturbing background information about the development of the unethical vaccines (for example, development of the rubella vaccine actually involved not just one, but 28 abortions). I was especially troubled by how many institutions have justified conducting research on fetal tissue from aborted babies by invoking the Church’s stance on unethically-sourced vaccines, which is something the NCBC doesn’t mention in their article.

I’ve read Dignitas Personae, which discusses the issue of unethically-sourced vaccines. “Of course, within this general picture there exist differing degrees of responsibility. Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such ‘biological material’. Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, while keeping in mind that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available. Moreover, in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.”

I’ve read what the Catholic Church teaches regarding the formation of conscience.

I’ve read Moral Conscience and Aborted Fetal Vaccines by Bishop Robert F. Vasa.

I’ve signed the petition at Change.org asking Merck et. al. to provide ethically-sourced vaccines.

I’ve written to the vaccine companies, more than once, asking for ethically-sourced vaccines. It seems like a lost cause, though. If thousands of people petition them for ethically-sourced vaccines but those same people buy and use the unethically-sourced ones anyway, why should they take any of us seriously?

I’ve asked all of my children’s doctors if it were possible to procure ethically-sourced vaccines, offering to pay out of pocket if necessary (barring anything prohibitively expensive). I was always told they weren’t able to procure any, even prior to 2009 when they were allegedly available from Merck.

At every check-up, I ask my kids’ doctor if he thinks the risk is significant enough that we need to take recourse to the vaccines. (So far, the answer has been no, but my youngest son’s 15-month well-baby check is coming up in a few weeks and I plan to ask again, given some recent cases in our area.) I don’t take measles lightly; I know it is a serious illness that can have serious complications, and it scares me. But I don’t want to ignore my conscience simply out of fear – that can set a bad precedent.

I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, asking God for guidance as I try to figure this out. I still haven’t received a clear answer.

And yet, over and over again, I’m essentially told I’m an idiot or worse because I’m so conflicted on whether or not to use these vaccines. I guess the assumption is that I haven’t read, studied, researched, or prayed about this issue at all.

This is a plea to all Catholics who feel the need to disdain, insult, abuse, slander, or mock those of us who struggle with this issue.

Please don’t assume we’re ignorant.

Please don’t assume we haven’t done our research.

Please don’t assume that we don’t care about our children, or other children, or the immuno-compromised.

Please do keep in mind the definition of rash judgement, as found in the Catechism: “He becomes guilty… of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor.”

Please do assume that we are all trying to do what is best as parents.

Please do discuss this issue rationally, calmly, and civilly, without resorting to name-calling, ad hominem, or saying that parents who don’t vaccinate for measles are personally at fault for every single measles death in the world (this is an actual accusation I’ve had leveled at me, and I don’t think anyone who is knowledgeable about Catholic moral theology would agree with the accuser).

Please don’t say things like this, from a (public) Facebook thread I participated in this past weekend: “Because nothing says ‘Catholic’ like always looking for the loophole. But I hope your smug, narcissistic pride keeps you warm when your kids and all your friends’ kids are dead thanks to not getting vaccinated.”

It’s also not helpful to accuse me (or anyone else) of deliberately wanting to kill children, as Mark Shea did in that same Facebook conversation: “Your views are a public menace and a threat to the lives of my granddaughters. I don’t take kindly to people who threaten to blind and kill my granddaughters.” I don’t think this is how Catholics should talk with one another.

In the same vein, if you haven’t vaccinated (either partially or fully) due to this issue, please respect the beliefs of whose who have chosen to vaccinate in spite of this issue. The Church has stated that it is licit to take recourse to these vaccines, and in some cases there is a moral obligation to do so. People who choose to use unethically-sourced vaccines are not violating Church teaching, just as those who choose not to use them are not sinning by doing so.

And please join me in praying that ethical vaccines will become available so parents who are not opposed to vaccinating in general don’t have to be in this position in the first place.

RELATED:

*Vaccinations: Are you justified to participate or refuse?

*Conscientious objection to vaccinations