The biggest lie in our culture


The following is the homily by Father Leonard R. Klein, diocesan director of Pro-Life Activities, at the Jan. 23 Pro-Life Mass at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Wilmington.

Gospel: Mark 3:22-30


The sin against the Holy Spirit has been the source of a great deal of reflection through the generations and the millennia of the church. It’s usually understood to be a kind of presumption and also a kind of stubborn resistance to the word of God and to his intervention in our lives.

In a Lutheran confirmation class when I was a kid, the pastor said of the sin against the Holy Spirit that if you were worried about it then you hadn’t committed it.

Father Leonard R. Klein

I think that makes some sense. If you’re worried about having actively resisted the Holy Spirit, then you obviously didn’t. But again through the tradition of the church, the sin has been understood as a deliberate —deliberate resistance to the truth as the Lord reveals it.

And we see just that in today’s Gospel. “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”

Why, Mark tells us? Because they had said — the scribes  — they had said that Jesus has an unclean spirit. He came toward holiness, repentance and forgiveness with acts of healing. With bold declarations about his authority, which certainly raised some eyebrows.

But the things he did were good and wholesome, anything but works of the devil. And so, those who accuse him get it exactly wrong and deliberately wrong. That is what constituted their sin against the Holy Spirit — the steadfast, stubborn refusal to see the truth, the truth about Jesus Christ in this case, when it confronted them.

When I first looked at today’s reading I thought maybe I should choose one of the optional readings for the day to fit better the great efforts of the church to put an end to abortion that are so important on this day with the March for Life. But, no, I think this is a terribly relevant text, indeed, painfully so.

The entire fuel and rationale of the pro-abortion movement is getting it exactly and deliberately wrong. You cannot say that this is a good and necessary thing in life, in culture, in community unless you are determined not to see the truth, determined to reject the good, determined to get it exactly and deliberately wrong.

Satan, the Scriptures remind us, is the father of lies, and there is simply no bigger lie told in our culture than the one told about abortion. That it is merely a matter of choice; that it should be up merely to the woman and her doctor to decide.

By the way, a word about that: Harry Blackmun, the Supreme Court justice who wrote Roe v. Wade — he was the primary author of it — had in mind by that phrase “a woman and her doctor” some sense of what he’d had from having come from the Rochester, Minn., area, where the Mayo Clinic existed. He envisioned in his mind that there would be these occasional difficult circumstances where it would be best for a woman and her doctor to decide, and not the law. He was living in a fantasy world.

In short order, it was clear that this was not going to be about the hard cases, but by abolishing all the laws of all 50 states we would have, in effect, abortion on demand for any reason whatever. It is not clear to me that it was necessary for Harry Blackmun to get it wrong. He simply didn’t think it through, didn’t seek the truth adequately enough.

Satan, I said, is the father of lies, but the best way to be the father of lies is to be the father of partial lies. Enough partial lies and partial self-deceptions have the same effect as one big lie.

But there is, of course, for us who are on the side of life, good news and the good news is simply that the truth is on our side, as the truth was on Jesus’ side in his run-in with the scribes. He would reveal his goodness and the wonder and beauty of what he was about, whether they wanted to believe it or experience it or accept it or not. But the truth is plainly on our side.

The pro-abortion side has expressed considerable anxiety about what is now a very common reality, and that is the ultrasound. They’ve noted, as have those of us on our side, that the first baby picture of most children now is of a fairly early ultrasound attached magnetically to the refrigerator to be waited for and watched over and prayed for.

They don’t like the ultrasounds. They don’t like ultrasound laws that require women to see them because why? They tell the truth, and the truth, as I said, is on our side.

Scientific truth has never been in doubt. From the moment of conception an individual human life begins. I understand that for political correctness’ sake there’s been some tampering with biology in medical textbooks on that question. But everybody knows it’s tampering, that it’s simply a lie to veil the exceedingly inconvenient truth — that the unborn child in the womb is one of us. It’s not something else, not merely a part of the mother’s body.

Therefore, of course, reason is on our side, reason in really the narrowest sense of plain logic. Individual, human, and alive. What describes each one of us describes the child in the womb — reason and science and perception. The perception that people experience with an ultrasound, they’re on our side.

So we are reminded once again of the ways in which the quest for individual autonomy and power in our culture threaten not just morality and goodness and holiness and decency, they threaten rationality itself.

This huge part of our culture and of our law relies upon the denial of the obvious. Nothing good can follow from that. It’s a philosophical rule that from an absurdity anything follows. And if something so basic to a culture is now that absurd, what other madness might be imposed? What other madness might be acceptable? We wait to see and we watch and see the evidence.

The redefinition of marriage as whatever we want to be or of the family as whatever we want to make it is a direct descendant of the irrationality of Roe vs. Wade and of the abortion regime. So it’s hard to imagine that there could be more at stake than 50 or 60 million lives. Do we need anything more evil than that?

But there is actually more at stake.

The abortion regime depends upon a kind of institutionalized insanity, a kind of corporate, communal sin against the Holy Spirit, a refusal to see the truth. And that poses an enormous threat to everything that our culture is or should be about.

So one of the things we do in response to the horror of abortion is to gather to pray.

The march itself is a ritual religious procession, after all, and that’s a form of prayer, just as the procession in and out of our churches on a Sunday morning is. But part of the reason that prayer is so necessary is that in the face of an insanity that is this great, we can only pray for mercy. Mercy for our culture, mercy for the aborted, mercy for those aborting women who grieve, and mercy for the perpetrators who need both forgiveness and truth.