Different Drum, Same Drummer
Sacred Scripture documents the behavior problems of the Devil. He has trouble with the truth, has a wildly excessive opinion of himself, and is an expert at disguising his hatred for humanity.
He tempted Adam and Eve with a half-truth. The newlyweds would indeed “know” good and evil by eating the forbidden fruit. They would henceforth know evil, but they could never be the final arbiters of good and evil. (Cf. Gen 3:4) That belongs to God alone. So through their disobedience to God, demonic suffering and death were unleashed upon the world for all time.
The Prince of Lies hates us and hates our humanity: “for God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world.” (Wis 2:23-24) So God warned the Israelites against, among others, the bizarre and demonic ritual of child sacrifice to the demon Molech [Moloch]: “You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” (Lev 18:21)
Through the Prophet Jeremiah the Lord continued to condemn the abomination: “And they have built the high place of Topheth [Moloch], which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.” (Jeremiah 7:31)
The 12th-century rabbi Rashi comments: “Tophet is Moloch, which was made of brass; and they heated him from his lower parts; and his hands being stretched out, and made hot, they put the child between his hands, and it was burnt; when it vehemently cried out; but the priests beat a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.” The sacrifices took place in the Valley of Hinnom outside of Jerusalem, known as Gehenna, the metaphor Jesus would use for the pains of Hell.
The beating drum distracting parents from the cries of their children is an eerie but important detail. The Devil needed a distraction as the evil was being done. He has become much more sophisticated today with diversionary tactics and we remain remarkably susceptible to them.
So when a bill that would have protected unborn babies capable of feeling pain was defeated in the Senate last week, there was a need for the noise of many diabolical drums.
The Last Judgment by Hans Memling, c. 1470 [National Museum, Gdańsk, Poland]
The drumbeats are familiar. As from the New York Times:
“Forty-five years after Roe v. Wade, abortions are safer today than getting your tonsils out,” declared Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Ilyse Hogue, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion-rights advocacy group: “We are seeing a rising up of women, unprecedented in my lifetime, and women who recognize that the role of abortion rights is so crucially important for women’s health.”
The image of dismembering a living unborn baby in the womb is rather unpleasant. So the beat goes on. Health. Painless. Freedom. Choice.
“[A]nd you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5)
The bill defeated in the Senate isn’t perfect, but it would have prevented abortion after twenty weeks – a good start.
Here is what we know about what an unborn baby is capable of feeling based on the testimony of a neonatologist: “In the neonatal intensive care unit, I see premature babies at the edge of viability (23-24 weeks’ gestation) react to painful or uncomfortable procedures every day. For example, when you poke them for blood work, the babies wrinkle up their faces, kick their feet, clench their hands into tiny fists, curl their toes, arch their backs and try to wriggle away, or smack at the offending person. Just ask the nurses.”
Simply put, unborn babies are human beings with feelings.
Fifty-one U.S. Senators refused to stand up for the lives of these little unborn babies, fourteen of them self-identified Catholics. They represent the swing vote, the difference between legislative success and failure.
These are the Catholic Senators who voted to continue the slaughter of unborn babies, their cries of pain muffled by what should be the safe-haven of a mother’s womb. There will be no drums to divert your attention. Just a solemn recognition of their decisive role in facilitating the sacrifice of unborn babies to demons. Here are their names:
Senator Maria Elaine Cantwell (Catholic, Democrat, WA)
Senator Susan Collins (Catholic, Republican, ME)
Senator Richard Durbin (Catholic, Democrat, IL)
Senator Kirstin Gilibrand (Catholic, Democrat, NY)
Senator Heidi Heitkamp (Catholic, Democrat, ND)
Senator Tim Kaine (Catholic, Democrat, VA)
Senator Patrick Leahy (Catholic, Democrat, VT)
Senator Ed Markey (Catholic, Democrat, MA)
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (Catholic, Democrat, NV)
Senator Claire McCaskill (Catholic, Democrat, MO)
Senator Bob Menendez (Catholic, Democrat, NJ)
Senator Lisa Murkowski (Catholic, Republican, AK)
Senator Patty Murray (Catholic, Democrat, WA)
Senator Jack Reed (Catholic, Democrat, RI)
Catholic commentators have expressed frustration that the Church’s hierarchy has failed in disciplining those with a Canonical manifestation of grave sin by denying them Communion or even excommunicating them. But the failure has been more fundamental. There has been a widespread failure to identify the reason for every ecclesial disciplinary action. The Church exists exclusively for the salvation of souls. Unless these politicians repent, they will suffer eternal torment in the fires of Gehenna.
Pray for the conversion of our brothers and sisters, Catholics, members of our household of the Faith: Give us the grace to overcome our own complacency and save us from the fires of Hell.
Father Jerry J. Pokorsky is a priest of the Diocese of Arlington. He is pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Great Falls, Virginia.