My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
When I was in high school, one of the worst insults we would use back then against a classmate was to call him a philistine. Most high school students today would probably not know what that means, but my high school education was steeped in the classics.
The dictionary defines a “philistine” as “a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.” In the Bible, the term “Philistine” means simply a “non-Israelite of the Promised Land” when used in the context of Samson, Saul and David. The most famous Philistine in the Bible was the giant Goliath, whom David slew with slingshot and stone (1 Samuel 17).
In contrast to the derogatory insult, “philistine,” a very positive term that we learned in high school was the word arête. Arête is a word from the ancient Greeks that expresses the idea of being the best that one can possibly be — in a word: excellence.
My topic today is a modern tale of David and Goliath — excellence vs. philistine. The modern-day David of this true story is David Daleiden, who is taking on the contemporary Goliath, Planned Parenthood and their giant abortion industry.
Daleiden is a citizen journalist who has conducted investigative research on the abortion industry. He is the young mastermind behind the sting operation that released undercover videos in 2015 exposing Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in human fetal tissue and organs, including an abortionist at a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Pasadena, Calif., who was shown in the videos haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts and quipping that she wanted to make enough money to buy a Lamborghini.
Many people were disgusted by these revelations, but not those in the abortion industry and the politicians who back them. Instead of investigating the gruesome activities of Planned Parenthood, officials in California and Texas sought to prosecute Daleiden! Planned Parenthood also unleashed their massive legal arsenal against Daleiden. While the case in Texas was dismissed, litigation in California continued.
Unfortunately, on Nov. 15, 2019, a jury in San Francisco found Daleiden and other undercover investigators for the Center for Medical Progress guilty of multiple crimes and ruled that they must pay millions of dollars in damages to Planned Parenthood for the work they did in exposing organ harvesting on aborted babies. This verdict is a real travesty of justice.
Throughout the trial, Judge William Orrick proved to be biased against the defendants, repeatedly ruling in favor of Planned Parenthood. Early in the lawsuit, it was revealed that Orrick had founded a family resource center in San Francisco that houses a Planned Parenthood clinic on its property. Daleiden and his co-defendant Sandra Merritt asked for Orrick to recuse himself from their case because of his “ongoing and longstanding professional relationship with Planned Parenthood.” Orrick refused despite his conflict of interest.
Daleiden’s lead defense attorney, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Firm, said, “This lawsuit is payback for David Daleiden exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty business of buying and selling fetal parts and organs. We intend to seek vindication for David on appeal. His investigation into criminal activity by America’s largest abortion provider utilized standard investigative journalism techniques, those applied regularly by news outlets across the country.”
Planned Parenthood is a giant in the abortion industry thanks to government monies which fund much of their work. According to a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in 2016, Planned Parenthood received over $1.5 billion in taxpayer funds from 2013 to 2015.
Daleiden is a shining example of arête, steadfast excellence in the pursuit of virtue in fighting the wicked and perverse practices of Planned Parenthood. David Daleiden may not be able to slay this giant with a slingshot, but our prayers are certainly needed in his appeal to overturn this wrongful verdict and as he seeks justice in the appellate courts.
At our meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops earlier this month in Baltimore, we adopted a short letter to supplement our document called Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship. In it, the Catholic Bishops of the United States said, “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” We need to pray for heroes like David Daleiden to be ultimately victorious in the ongoing fight against the threat of abortion.
May God give us this grace. Amen.