Randy Engel
The unborn child as a casualty of Catholic ecumenicalism -- a reflection on Assisi III (Part II)
By Randy Engel
November 15, 2011


In Part I of this series, I explored the grave conflicts and scandals that have arisen in the post-Conciliar Church as a result of Catholic ecumenical and interreligious honors and accolades awarded to pro-abort, pro-homosexual religious leaders like the late Rabbi Balfour Brickner of New York and Reform Rabbi Aaron B. Bisno of Pittsburgh.

Now let us fast forward to the recently concluded Assisi III day for peace and reconciliation to try and answer the question — "Why is consideration of the unborn child and abortion (and homosexuality) systematically excluded in the Catholic Church's ecumenical relations and interreligious dialogue with Christians, non-Christians and non-believers including pagans, heretics, agnostics and Jews.

On October 27, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI returned to Assisi, the city of Saint Francis, for a "Day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and justice in the world" based on the theme: "Pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace." The event commemorated the original 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's first interreligious gathering of world religious leaders in Assisi in 1986, and subsequent gatherings in 1993 and 2002.

Over 300 religious leaders and a small assortment of "non-believers" (agnostics) from 50 nations including 31 Christian representations from Orthodox and Protestant sects, and 176 from non-Christian sects including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Confucians, Shintos, Taoists, Jains, Baha'is, Sikhs, Zoroastrians and Yoruba cult believers.

Wearing traditional ceremonial garb, each representative solemnly pledged to promote peace between faiths and towards creation, and to work incessantly against terrorism and violence, especially violence in the name of God.

The first public event of the day with outdoor video projection was held at the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Saint Mary of the Angels) situated in the plain at the foot of the hill of Assisi. Following a warm welcome by civil and religious authorities in front of the basilica, the ceremonies were taken inside the church where select leaders gave short interventions on the theme of world peace. It was here that the pope gave his main address to the delegates. Later, in the afternoon, the assembly ate and then went to private rooms for personal prayer and rest. This was followed by a silent pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Francis for the conclusion of the ecumenical meeting.

Among the principal speakers who addressed the delegates at the morning session at Saint Mary of the Angels were Rabbi David Rosen, a representative of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

When the nine interventions were concluded, Benedict XVI rose to give his address which opened with the words, "Twenty-five years have passed since Blessed John Paul II first invited representatives of the world's religions to Assisi for peace. ..."

Some media commentators expressed "great amazement" at Benedict XVI's flattering remarks on agnostics as persons "who suffer" from God's absence and yet, "are inwardly making their way towards Him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness." The pontiff described agnostics as "pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace," and said that they are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God."

But the pope did no go as far as to suggest that what they were seeking was to be found in the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church established by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ more than 2000 years ago. The Catholic Church is the only ark of salvation, but in a post-Conciliar age, such an admission by the Vicar of Christ is considered to be the epitome of bad manners. Better that unrepentant souls should go to hell for eternity than Emily Post be offended.

In a similar vein, Benedict XVI repeatedly talked about the need for world peace, as if Our Lady of Fatima's Peace Plan from heaven never existed. What a gross insult, intended or not, to the Blessed Mother, and to her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

But as serious as these grave omissions are, they were not a cause for any great surprise for they are characteristic of the scandalous ecumenical misadventures promoted by the Holy See and Catholic dioceses throughout the world after the Second Vatican Council Revolution.

Benedict XVI Silent on the War Against Unborn Children

What I did find utterly amazing, however, was Benedict XVI's statement on war which preceded his introductory comments on world terrorism and violence. Speaking about events after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 which paved the way for German reunification, the pope continued:
    Unfortunately, we cannot say that freedom and peace have characterized the situation ever since. Even if there is no threat of a great war hanging over us at present, nevertheless the world is unfortunately full of discord (emphasis added).
When I saw those words I literally gasped for breath. What about the war on the unborn child which has been raging across the world for over half a century?

In the United States alone, since the Roe Vs. Wade Supreme Court decision of January 22, 1973, there have been more than 50 million "officially" recorded surgical abortions not including the millions of silent abortions induced by chemical and mechanical abortifacients; not including the deaths of hundreds of thousands of IVF — produced human embryos; and not including the falsified data the abortionist submits to the U.S. Center for Disease Control in order to avoid a higher tax bracket.

Think of it! In the 38 years since the Roe v. Wade, Americans have managed to kill more human beings than all of America's war casualties over a 200 year period from the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) to the Vietnam Conflict (1955–1975), a total of about 1.2 million lives.

At Assisi III, Benedict XVI talked repeatedly of the horror of human violence and terrorism, but what is more violent and terrifying than a mother seeking to kill her own unborn child? When the abortionist plunges his surgical knife into the heart of an unborn child, he plunges that same knife into the very heart of the family and murders it. How can the pope talk about world peace without first talking of peace in families, the very foundation Christian civilized society?

In his speech, the pontiff mentioned the "horrors of the concentration camps," but what death is more heartless and lonelier than the death of tiny human embryos, the least of our kin, isolated and imprisoned in the frozen wasteland of an IVF concentration can?

Is not the current world-wide Abortion Holocaust involving billions of innocent human beings as worthy of the attention of the world's religious gathered at Assisi as the Nazi Holocaust? Yet on this matter the pope was silent. Nor did any of the other nine prominent representatives who addressed the Assisi gathering broach the subject. Why?

Because, as the title of this series suggests, the unborn child has become an expendable casualty of Catholic ecumenicalism and interreligious dialogue. So much so, that the Holy Father apparently did not recognize the utter incongruity of surrounding his person at the Basilica of Mary of the Angels and then the Basilica of St. Francis with pro-abortion advocates at an event dedicated to peace and non-violence.

Let's take a closer look at just two of these anti-life representatives who were given positions of prominence at Assisi III — Rabbi David Rosen and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Rabbi David Rosen Has Impressive Ecumenic Credentials

Rabbi David Rosen was the youngest son of the well known English Rabbi Dr. Kopul Rosen, a student of the Talmud, the Torah, and Jewish mysticism, who served as the Principal Rabbi of the Federation of Synagogues in London, until, disillusioned with organized religion, he resigned from the rabbinate and returned to his first love, Carmel College, an elite Jewish boarding school near Oxfordshire, which he had founded in 1948.

Third son Rabbi David Rosen's remarkable rabbinical career has centered on Ecumenics. The 60-year-old professor is currently the Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious Affairs (IJCICC) and its Heilbrunn Institute for International Interreligious Understanding. He has also held various positions with the Anti- Defamation League and was the ADL's co-liaison to the Holy See. Readers will recall that both the AJC and the ADL are notorious for the prominent roles they have played in American pro-abortion politics.

Rosen is the Honorary Advisor on Interfaith Relations to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel; serves on its Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, and represents the Chief Rabbinate on the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land. Rosen was a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the establishment of full diplomatic normalization of relations between the Vatican and Israel.

In November 2005, Rabbi Rosen was made a Knight Commander of the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory the Great by the Holy See for his contribution to "promoting Catholic-Jewish reconciliation." The Order of St. Gregory is one of the five pontifical orders of knighthood in the Catholic Church, originally founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1831.

Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews conducted the investiture, which was designed to correspond to the 40th anniversary celebrations in Israel of the Second Vatican Council's Nostra aetat, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965.

On May 6, 2010, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York hosted Rosen at his residence to discuss Catholic-Jewish and Vatican-Israeli relations in the wake of the Special Vatican Synod on the Middle East.

The list of Rabbi Rosen's titles and awards goes on and on.

Rabbi Rosen on Abortion as the Great Divide

On March 3, 2011, Marguerite A. Peeters of the Brussels-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue Dynamics interviewed Rabbi David Rosen in Paris following the end of the 21st session of the meetings between the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultation and the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism of the Holy See. [http://www.dialoguedynamics.com/content/dialoguing/judeo-christian-dialogue-on/article/interview-with-rabbi-david-rosen]

In Part I of the Peeters' interview with Rosen titled "The Divine Image," the rabbi states that because the human being is created in the Divine Image, "...there is intrinsic value in the human person, regardless of your likes or dislikes." But, as the interview goes on, it becomes clear that from a Jewish perspective, unborn children do not qualify as human persons until birth.

In Part II of the interview "What unites us divides us," Rosen speaks of the status of the unborn child as the great divide between Jews and Catholics." Below is the verbatim question and answer text on the issue of abortion and the humanity of the unborn child:
    You were mentioning the sacredness of life. What does that mean for you?

    It means that on principle, life is inviolate. But there are situations of where, by definition, there is going to be a conflict of interest. The most dramatic one is situations of where life is threatened. And then, what is your response to that? While it can't be to take one innocent life for another, nevertheless, when life is directly threatened through an assault, from a Jewish ethical point of view, that threat undermines the claims of the source of the one that threatens. That means that when A is about to murder B and there is no other way to prevent him other than taking his life, we are obliged to save B by killing A. Accordingly, Judaism is not pacifist, and in a situation where one is attacked, one has an obligation to defend. And if the only way to defend oneself, e.g. in a war situation, is to take the lives of assailants, we are under moral compulsion to do so. This is relevant to many other ethical dilemmas including where there appears to be a profound distinction, maybe the biggest moral conflict between Catholicism and Judaism. And that is over the question of the attitude towards the unborn. There are obviously confluences. Judaism teaches reverence for life and certainly a fetus is life. But life and a human being are not the same thing for Judaism. Life becomes a human being only with birth. And therefore there is a transition from the one stage to the other. And while you may not take an innocent life in order to save another, and therefore once the child is born, there certainly cannot be any justification for any kind of violent action, if the presence of the embryo threatens the mother's life — even her mental health, then from the Jewish point of view, we are under obligation to end the life of that embryo because in fact it is an assailant, as it were, against the mother (emphasis added).

    No matter how taboo in our culture, it has become difficult, from a strictly scientific point of view, to deny that abortion does cause profound, but usually unexpressed, mental suffering and problems...

    I have no doubt. However that damage might well pale before the consequences of bearing the product of rape for example (bold added).

    What you are saying here reflects the view of all Jews?

    Yes. Because in the liberal trends of Judaism, there would be more latitudinal area, and I am expressing the view of Orthodox Jewish teaching. For example, you cannot choose for no reason to have an abortion, or for aesthetic or even economic reasons, but where there is a threat, that is different.
The Law Must Provide for Abortions Up Until Birth

Have you ever wondered why Jews, particularly Reform and Conservative Jews, play such a prominent role in the financing of abortion politics and the provision of abortion "services" in the United States and abroad? Have you ever wondered, why liberal Jewish rabbis like Balfour Brickner and Aaron Bisco (Part I) have fought tooth and nail for "abortion rights" up to and including the moment of delivery? Have you ever wondered why the Ashkenazi Jews have an almost 100% kill ratio of unborn children who have been diagnosed prenatally with Tay-Sachs disease? Well, now you know. According to Rosen, "Life becomes a human being only with birth."

The practical application of this religious belief, of course, is that, abortion laws across the United States and around the world, must permit abortifacients as well as slice and dice abortions up until the moment of birth, give or take, a few minutes here or there, in order to accommodate Jewish teachings.

The portrayal of the unborn child as an "aggressor," and Rosen's use of the term "product" to dehumanize a child conceived in rape denote a ruthless and mercenary mentality. As his brother's keeper, Rosen has much to be desired. And yet, to such a man the Holy See awarded a knighthood "in recognition of his "service to the Church ... and the good example set in his communities and country." Rosen, a "good example?" Of what?

Now, at Assisi III, here was the dapper Rabbi Rosen standing side by side with Benedict XVI at St. Mary of the Angels and the Basilica of St. Francis — both men smiling, laughing and congratulating each other in the name of peace and non-violence. I probably would have passed out in shock, had I not noticed that flanking the pope on the other side was another pro-abortion prelate, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I on Abortion

The Roman Catholic Church is not the only church in a state of grave crisis today — ask any pro-life Orthodox Christian about the pro-abortion position of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, head of the Eastern Orthodox Communion since 1991, Archbishop of the See of Constantinople, New Rome, and regarded as "first among equals" in the ecclesiastical leadership of Russian, Greek, Romanian, Serbian, Antiochian, Bulgarian and other Eastern Orthodox churches.

The fireworks started in July of 1990, when as Metropolitan Bartholomais of Chalcedon, the future patriarch gave an interview to the San Francisco Chronicle titled "SF Shows Off Its Ecumenical Spirit," in which he noted that although the Orthodox church believes the soul enters the body at conception and, "generally speaking, respects human life and the continuation of pregnancy," the church also "respects the liberty and freedom of all human persons and all Christian couples." "We are not allowed to enter the bedrooms of the Christian couples," he said. "We cannot generalize. There are many reasons for a couple to go toward abortion." The center of concern for the patriarch is not the life of the unborn child, but rather the nebulous freedom of conscience of the pregnant woman. http://www.aoiusa.org/blog/2009/10/a-patriarch-who-generally-speaking-respects-human-life/.

In mid-October 1997, when the patriarch began his first pastoral visit to the United States, he made an appearance at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Baltimore, which counts among its parishioners the rabid pro-abortion leader of the U.S. Senate, Democrat Paul Sarbanes of Maryland (1977-2007). Bartholomew I praised Sarbanes for his "love for Mother Church, for Orthodox culture, for the highest Christian ideals." http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=12-02-014-v#.

According to Orthodox writer John Couretas, that same year, 1997, the Orthodox leader repeated his antipathy toward the fate of the unborn child in Conversations With Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I by Olivier Clement:
    As for abortion, this is always profoundly dramatic for a woman and deeply injures her femininity. For this reason, abortion for the sake of convenience is, we cannot deny it, extremely serious and must be strongly discouraged. But there are situations of extreme distress when abortion can be a lesser evil, as, for example, when the life of the future mother is in danger (bold added). ...
The "future mother?" Good grief. Will someone please inform the obviously biologically clueless prelate that a pregnant woman is already a mother!

Clearly, whoever he is, Bartholomew I is no friend of the unborn child.

The Conundrum of Abortion and Religious Freedom

The theme of Assisi III was peace and an end to violence, and yet, no one — not even Pope Benedict XVI himself — raised a single voice in defense of the unborn child who has become a universal target of mass extermination. Instead, we witnessed the pope happily mingling with pro-abortion advocates of whom Rabbi Rosen and Bartholomew I are but a small sampling. How can the Catholic laity be expected to treat abortion as a grave sin and crime, when the pope obviously does not, or else he would not have behaved toward proponents of baby killing as he did at Assisi III?

"How has this sad state of affairs come to past?" Catholics may ask themselves?

Let us open up this bag of worms by examining the post-Conciliar Church's novel doctrine on "religious freedom" as promoted in one of the most controversial documents of the Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae Declaration on Religious Freedom on the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965. The document, whether by design or circumstance, has become the seedbed of religious indifferentism and has been a major casual factor in the undermining of the Natural Law and Catholic morality including the inviolateness of innocent human life, born and unborn.

Anyone who has followed the evolution of the legal arguments in support of Roe Vs. Wade (S.C.1973) which declared abortion to be "a fundamental right," will have noticed that there has been a decided paradigm shift among major pro-abortion organizations like the American Jewish Committee, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL/Pro-Choice America , away from the argument of "the right to privacy" under the due process clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and toward the Establishment Clause found in the Constitution, " Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Thus, under the penumbra of the Establishment Clause, any federal, state, or local law or ordinance which seeks to give protection to the unborn child (in or out of the womb) in any shape, way, or form including a "personhood amendment," can be declared unconstitutional, since such laws embrace a specific religious opinion on the beginning of human life and nature of the human embryo/human fetus/unborn child, which is not shared by persons who hold contrary religious views in support of abortion (infanticide) up to the moment of birth, and the wholesale destruction of the human embryo for IVF and research purposes.

The reader will recall from Part I of this series, the pro-abortion/infanticide letter of September 10, 1998, defending "partial birth" killings to which Rabbi Aaron B. Bisno of Pittsburgh, Penna. affixed his name. It reads in part:
    The debate surrounding reproductive choice speaks to one of the basic foundations upon which our country was established — the freedom of religion. It speaks to the right of individuals to be respected as moral decision makers, making choices based on their religious beliefs and traditions as well their consciences. ... (bold added).
How can the Catholic Church defend the unborn child from such judicial tyranny and yet promulgate Dignitatis Humanae which clearly states, "(2) ...This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right. (bold added)."

I believe the issue of religious freedom has been the major factors in keeping the unborn child from the ecumenical table at which even agnostics and voodoo worshippers have been given places of honor by the Church. It has also effectively rendered the post-Conciliar Church systematically impotent in dealing with other grave moral evils of our day including divorce, contraception, sterilization, homosexuality, eugenics, human embryo research, IVF, and vital organ transplantation.

Yes, Dignitatis Humanae needs to be repealed, but that action alone will accomplish little since this document is symptomatic of the over-all crisis of faith and morals made manifest in the post-Conciliar Church.

Conversion and the Establishment of the
Social Kingship of Christ

Logically speaking, the antidote to this seeming impasse imposed upon Catholics by the post-Conciliar Church lies first in the carrying out Christ's mandate to the Apostles and their successors:
    Go, therefore, and teach all nations... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world (Matt. 28:19).

    Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature... he who is baptized and believes shall be saved and he who does not believe shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16).
Unfortunately, the divine mission of converting all men to Christ including the Jews, to the One True Church He established on earth, is anathema to the post-Conciliar Church. .

Anathema also is the doctrine of the Social Kingship of Christ the King as contained in the traditional doctrine set down by Pope Pius XI in Quas primas, On the Kingship of Christ, December 11, 1925, which instructed all prelates in communion with the Apostolic See that: "(9)When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony (bold added)."

Nor does it seem that the post-Conciliar Church has any use for our Lady of Fatima's peace plan from heaven, which as I have already noted was relegated to the junk heap at Assisi III in favor of the peace plans proposed by leaders of major and minor religious denominations as well as non-believers, each with their own private prescription for peace.

Given that Benedict XVI remains fully committed to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, it is unlikely that during this pontificate we shall see an end to these ecumenical scandals. And so we wait until God's good time for a Pope of Tradition if that indeed is His will.

In the meantime, let us continue to do all that is necessary for our own salvation and for those entrusted to our care. We need to be soldiers of Christ and for Christ. Cradle Catholics like me know the holy drill well enough, at least in part, but it nevertheless bears repeating.

Following the four divisions of the doctrines of salvation found in The Catechism of the Council of Trent: the Apostles Creed (what we are to believe); the Sacraments (the instruments of grace); the Ten Commandments (what we must do); and the Lord's Prayer (whatever can be the object of the Christian's desires, or hopes, or prayers), let us strive to:
  • Love God with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind, and with our whole strength, and our neighbor as thyself.

  • Live the spiritual life according to our state in life.

  • Be modest in speech, dress and demeanor as is befitting a child of God

  • Keep custody of our eyes; avoid the near occasions of sin.

  • Keep ourselves in the state of grace.

  • Attend the Traditional Mass.

  • Frequent the Sacraments especially that of Penance and the Holy Communion.

  • Bring the body under subjugation by fasting, acts of penance, and the offering up of sufferings in reparation for thy sins and those of the world.

  • Read Holy Scripture; set time apart for daily meditation and recitation of the Rosary, before the Blessed Sacrament when possible.

  • Cultivate a special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Attend First Friday and First Saturday Masses.

  • Pray for the Poor Souls in Purgatory and unbaptized children in Limbo.

  • Pray to our Guardian Angel and to our patron saint (s) daily.

  • Make generous use of Sacramentals especially the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

  • Pray for our enemies recalling the words of Saint Thomas More written in the Tower of London, 1534: "To think my most enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred."

  • Give Glory to the One Triune God — Father, Son and Holy Ghost — always and everywhere.

[Acknowledgements: My appreciation to Prof. Thomas A. Droleskey (www.christorchaos.com) for providing me with the Peeters-Rosen interview. Also to Dr. Edgar A Suter for sharing his insights on Jewish writings and oral traditions from the Talmud and Kabbalah, and to David Wernhoff, author of the Culture Wars article "Abortion is from the Jews" available at http://www.catholicintl.com/index.php/latest-news/573-the-jewish-roots-and-the-catholic-failure-on-abortion.]

© Randy Engel


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Randy Engel

Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters, began her journalistic career shortly after her graduation from the University of New York at Cortland, in 1961. A specialist in Vietnamese history and folklore, in 1963, she became the editor of The Vietnam Journal, the official publication of the Vietnam Refugee and Information Services, a national relief program in South Vietnam for war refugees and orphans based in Dayton, Ohio... (more)


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