AXIOS! AXIOS! AXIOS! The story about the St. Vladimir’s Seminary Pro Life Group (below) gives me hope. The OCA has always been clear about the intrinsic, God-given, value of unborn life much to their credit. So have the Antiochians, ROCOR and every other jurisdiction. The moral tradition is quite clear: all human life holds inestimable value and when we devalue the life of one, then we devalue the life of all. Yes, Christendom has not always be faithful to the precept, but there is a world of difference between hypocrisy and retooling the tradtion. Hypocrisy still tips the hat to virtue. Moral relativism however, erodes the authority of the tradition and blinds the mind to the sufferings that inevitably result when the tradition is weakened, or worse, abandoned.
This, perhaps, is why the Fathers were so strong (some would say strident) in the condemnation of abortion (see: The Fathers of the Orthodox Church on Abortion). Were they as condemnatory in their face to face dealings with people seeking healing from the trauma (and, yes, abortion is trauma)? Not likely. They were pastors after all. But sometimes pastoral responsibility requires drawing clear lines, and maybe then, as now, a blurring of the lines about the value of the defenseless portended a collapse of the safety and well-being of others who did not possess the wealth and standing of the privileged and strong.
Why the GOA, the only jurisdiction that refuses to take a clear stand on the sanctity of human life, can’t see this is cause for worry. Their reasoning is flaccid, rising no higher than the shibboleths of popular culture (see: A patriarch who ‘generally speaking, respects human life’). A particularly egregious quote:
Do not expect from a patriarch orders or prohibitions about how to love each other! As both Bartholomew and his predecessor, Athenagoras, have stated: if a man and a woman truly love one another, I have no business in their bedroom!
Someone needs to remind His Holiness that abortions don’t happen in bedrooms. They happen in abortuaries. He also needs to be reminded that by defending his position in the jargon of pro-abortion polemics, he increases the moral confusion within society and serves only the culture of death in the end.
How can this relativizing of the moral tradition be justified? It can’t. Moral relativism is corrosive and silence in one area will beget silence in the next. It’s like the man who hides sin. Keep it hidden long enough and after a while other sins don’t seem so sinful anymore. Stay there long enough and then only a catastrophic event can awaken the slumbering mind and compel the heart toward the repentance necessary for salvation and life.
Again, AXIOS! to the St. Vladimir’s Pro Life Group. Don’t be deterred by the critics, and be especially cautious of those who counsel such things as moderation, temperance, compassion and other powerful precepts drawn from the moral tradition. Weigh how those words are used very carefully. You will find that sometimes they are used not because your critic holds them as virtues, but because he is uncomfortable with your insistence that ideas that devalue persons must be challenged. He desires your silence because he values security over truth.
Hdn. Fr. Herman (Majkrzak), lecturer in Liturgical Music, warmly welcomed new and experienced students alike, noting that while the group is only in its second year, the Seminary has had a continual presence for many years at the March for Life. Held annually in Washington D.C. on the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, the March protests the Supreme Court decision which effectively legalized abortion in all fifty states. Father Herman noted that abortion is the single greatest genocide perpetrated in human history; the Alan Guttmacher Institute reported in 2008 that there were approximately 42 million abortions performed annually worldwide.
After electing new officers—Dn. Andre Paez for President, Fr. James Stevens as Treasurer, and Seminarian Steve Osburn as Student Liaison, the group laid out an ambitious agenda for the school year.
• Attendance at the March for Life, Friday. January 25, 2013;
• Sponsorship of a public lecture featuring distinguished bioethicist Dr. Tristram Engelhardt, tentatively scheduled for Sunday, January 20, 2013;
• Sponsorship of a Rachel’s Vineyard presentation and training on campus—the Vineyard facilitates post-abortion healing and help;
• Management of a booth at Orthodox Education Day, which will include information about SVOTS March for Life involvement, educational brochures and videos, and announcements about Dr. Engelhardt’s lecture.
Additionally, the group pledged to continue the diaper and bottle drives for the Good Counsel Homes, which offer a loving family environment in a safe and secure shelter for women in crisis pregnancies. The members also would like to create a SVOTS pro life Facebook page, and are exploring the possibility of hosting of a workshop about end of life issues.