Evil manifested in Las Vegas and in Illinois

October 15, 2017
by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The vicious sniper attack that killed 58 people and wounded nearly 500 at a concert in Las Vegas has been described as a “senseless tragedy,” a “senseless shooting,” a “senseless massacre” and “senseless violence.” Indeed, “senseless” is a very accurate description of what happened, since it makes no sense and there is no rational basis for anyone to do something so monstrous. Law enforcement officials and investigators have expressed their frustration that they have not been able to find any clues to the killer’s motives after scouring all the available evidence and interviewing people who knew him. Sometimes evil is just plain evil and needs to be recognized as such.

Catholic teaching addresses the question of evil: “If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist? To this question, as pressing as it is unavoidable and as painful as it is mysterious, no quick answer will suffice. Only Christian faith as a whole constitutes the answer to this question: the goodness of creation, the drama of sin and the patient love of God who comes to meet man by his covenants, the redemptive Incarnation of his Son, his gift of the Spirit, his gathering of the church, the power of the sacraments and his call to a blessed life to which free creatures are invited to consent in advance, but from which, by a terrible mystery, they can also turn away in advance. There is not a single aspect of the Christian message that is not in part an answer to the question of evil.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, par. 309).

Some evils are readily apparent because of their obvious brutality. Some other evils, however, are more subtle because they are not so evident to everyone and are cloaked in high-sounding rhetoric like “choice,” yet they are also morally repugnant. An example of this type of camouflaged but morally despicable evil is the bipartisan approval of taxpayer-funded abortion in Illinois in the form of House Bill 40, passed by the Democratic-controlled Illinois General Assembly under the leadership of Senate President John Cullerton and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, and then signed into law by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Despite his promises to veto House Bill 40 if it reached his desk, Gov. Rauner broke his word and signed it anyway.

Promise-breaking politicians are nothing new. Several centuries before Christ, the Psalmist wrote, “Put no trust in princes” (Psalm 146:3). Biblical commentary says that these “princes” are probably to be understood as powerful and rich leaders rather than as members of a royal family. Such powerful and rich leaders are the “princes” of modern day politics. A politician is only as good as his word, and a politician who breaks his word simply cannot be trusted.

Gov. Rauner’s broken promise and signing of taxpayer-funded abortion is shameful, but it is even more disgraceful that so many of the legislators who promoted and voted for House Bill 40 are Catholic. No one can facilitate the killing of unborn babies and still be a Catholic in good standing. No one can support abortion rights and claim to be following the teachings of Jesus Christ and his church. Christianity and abortion are inherently incompatible. From the very first century, The Teaching of the Apostles (known as the Didache) taught, “Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.”

Some may object to talking about abortion in the same context as mass murder on the scale of the Las Vegas sniper shooting. It is certainly reprehensible that a cold-blooded murderer killed 58 people and wounded almost 500 more, but the number of unborn babies killed every year is even more appalling. According to the World Health Organization, every year in the world there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions. This corresponds to approximately 125,000 abortions per day. In the United States, there are over 3,000 abortions per day. The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that 34,498 abortions took place in Illinois during 2015 (the most recent year for which numbers are available). That comes to 95 abortions per day in Illinois. Now the majority of Democratic legislators and our Republican governor are forcing Illinois taxpayers to pay for this slaughter of innocent children. They should be ashamed of themselves.

The Catholic Church observes October as Respect Life Month. The theme for the 2017-2018 Respect Life Program in the United States is, “Be Not Afraid,” for Jesus says, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). May we not be afraid to speak and act boldly but confidently to protect human life from conception to natural death.

May God give us this grace. Amen.

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