Flattery is a violation of the Eighth Commandment. The flatterer offends against truth by offering excessive — and frequently undeserved — praise to another in the hope that such praise will motivate the recipient to act in a certain way, usually to the flatterer’s benefit. In other words, flattery is a way to distort the truth in order to derive a benefit from doing so. But many instances of flattery are not just distortions but simply outright lies designed to create an impression in the minds of others that is patently untrue.
Many in the pro-life establishment (including the National Right to Life Committee and its various state and local affiliates) have used flattery to stroke the egos and promote the careers of politicians who do not support the absolute inviolability of all innocent human beings from the moment of fertilization through all subsequent stages until natural death without any exceptions whatsoever. Those pols have been garlanded with praise, feted at dinners and banquets as pro-life champions, and given all manner of awards and certificates testifying to their “courageous defense” of life — which usually involves nothing more than their saying that they are pro-life — even though they have made and continue to make exceptions to the inviolability of innocent human life.
The flattery creates veritable Frankenstein’s monsters, as men and women are told over and over again that they are pro-life champions and thus come to believe that any and all positions they take on matters of public policy are correct, no matter how those positions fly in the face of the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. At the same time, anyone who dares to point out how the careerists are not pro-life at all is denounced as an extremist and member of some fringe organization. It could not possibly be the case that a committed disciple of the Crucified and Risen Savior, Jesus Christ, had the positive obligation to give voice to the fullness of the truths the God-Man deposited in Holy Mother Church, could it?
Such a Frankenstein’s monster has been created in Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and George W. Bush’s secretary of health and human services. For years the National Right to Life Committee has praised Thompson as a “pro-life” champion. Sure, he makes exceptions to the sanctity of innocent human life. However, as I pointed out recently, the NRLC itself supports the slicing and dicing of little babies in instances where it is alleged that a mother’s life is at risk. Thompson’s support for pro-abortion politicians within his own political party has done nothing to diminish his luster as a pro-life champion in the eyes of the NRLC. Nor has his standing as a pro-life champion been diminished by his enthusiasm for embryonic stem-cell research — whether those cells are culled from aborted babies or from embryonic babies conceived in petri dishes for the purpose of killing them for their cells. One wonders whether Thompson’s insistence that the human pesticide, RU-486, is safe for women will be the straw that breaks the back of his undeserved reputation as a pro-life hero. RU-486 — the French abortion pill — is a weapon of murder against unborn children, of course, but medical studies have revealed that it also produces adverse effects on women’s health.
Tommy Thompson is a man who does not know very much about the life issues. He is advised by secular medical experts and scientists who do not view the critical issues of life and death through the prism of the true Faith. Our Lord really did mean it when He said, “You can do nothing without Me.” Nothing means nothing. There is not one aspect of our own individual life or of our social life that is meant to be untouched by the standard of the Holy Cross. All of our decisions are meant to be made in the context of serving the Triune God faithfully through His true Church, something that Thompson, who is a Catholic, obviously considers to be an extremist position taken by religious fanatics desirous of violating the Americanist and Masonic concept of the alleged separation between Church and state. Thompson cannot possibly understand the radicalism to which we as Catholics are called in eschewing human respect and mere naturalism in order to view ourselves and the world clearly through the eyes of the true Faith. The Faith is meant to permeate everything — education, government, politics, law, science, medicine. Everything.
Thompson’s insistence that RU-486 is safe for women is akin to President Clinton’s insistence that the numbers of children executed each year by means of partial-birth abortions was in the neighborhood of six hundred to seven hundred. Clinton continued to insist that was the case even after The Record, a secular New Jersey newspaper, revealed that in the mid 1990s a single abortuary in northern New Jersey, in a single year, had slaughtered more than 1,500 children by means of partial-birth abortion. Facts never bothered Bill Clinton. The pesky little things — they must not bother Tommy Thompson, either. Or perhaps he simply lacks the courage to declare bluntly that the abortion pill is inherently unsafe for women and absolutely deadly for innocent children in their mothers’ wombs.
Cheer up. The news gets worse. Thompson doesn’t just ignore right principles and the binding nature of Christ’s unchanging truths as they relate to embryonic stem cell research and RU-486. He ignores the application of those truths to the transplantation of human organs, too. Thompson has said that people should list themselves as organ donors, oblivious to the evidence provided in a number of sources (and most recently summarized by Judie Brown’s American Life League) that medical personnel have admitted carving up living human beings to harvest their body parts before they died naturally. Thompson lives in a world of relativism and utilitarianism. Can anyone show me in what meaningful way he differs from his predecessor, the overtly pro-abortion Donna Shalala? Incidentally, she is also a Catholic.
Pope John Paul II noted a few months ago that human organs can be transplanted morally. However, doctors cannot morally take positive measures to expedite the deaths of those whose body parts have been deemed as possible matches for recipients. The Holy Father warned doctors not to start carving up living human beings who are nearing death in order to save others. However, a world that ignores the Vicar of Christ when he explicates the truths of the Divine Redeemer on contraception and abortion is not going to listen to him on the issue of organ transplants, which is why we should not list ourselves as organ donors. At present there are zero safeguards against the abusive practices associated with organ transplants that the American Life League listed in a news release of April 20. Tell that to Tommy Thompson.
Unfortunately, the “pro-life” Thompson is only one part of a bogus “pro-life” administration. President Bush has retained Title X funding for Planned Parenthood in his proposed 2002 budget, which means that our taxpayer dollars will continue to subsidize the chemical deaths of innocent babies here and abroad by means of contraceptive pills and devices. It still appears as though Bush plans to nominate White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales — who in March 2000 voted to strike down a mere parental-notification bill when serving on the Texas Supreme Court — to fill one of the first vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. A homosexualist has been hired to recruit civilian employees for the Department of Defense. And on and on and on.
It is time to stop flattering and feting phony pro-life politicians. Men such as Tommy Thompson and George W. Bush are oblivious to their duties before the Triune God to conform civil law to the binding precepts of the Divine positive law and the natural law. How in the world can we expect them to change if we keep lionizing them as pro-life champions? We should be pushing them to embrace the fullness of Christ’s Holy Truths as the basis of both personal sanctity and all social order. We do the babies and the cause of fundamental justice founded in the splendor of Truth Incarnate no favor by flattering and feting men and women who are ignorant of First Causes and Last Ends. Flattery has gotten the babies nowhere. I say, let there be no more awards for any politician who supports even one abortion as a matter of principle. And no more honors for those in public life who have demonstrated a woeful lack of understanding of the most pressing moral issue of the day.
Once again we come face to face with the reality of a secularized world. Those of us who are baptized into the Mystical Body of Christ have the obligation to Catholicize the world in which we live, planting the seeds in our own era for the rise of a Christrocentric world, just as the Apostles did following the Ascension of our Lord and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on Pentecost Sunday. The graces available to the Apostles is no less powerful now than it was then. Why are we so unwilling to do the work of the Apostles in proclaiming that there is only one Name by which men can be saved, Jesus Christ, and only one true Church in which He has deposited His Holy Truths for our sanctification and salvation?
May our Lady, the Seat of Wisdom, pray for us to have the courage to resist flattering the powerful and to insist always that no one who opposes the truths of her Divine Son has anything to offer civil society except chaos and disorder.
Thomas A. Droleskey, Ph.D.
Editor's Note: His series "The Germ of GIRM" will be on hiatus for a short while as Dr. Droleskey continues to write we will bring installments on this to you as they become available. His regular column will continue each Friday.
For past columns in The DAILY CATHOLIC by Dr. Droleskey, see Archives