Evangelium Vitae is a document that seeks to defend and promote the value and inviolability of human life against the many threats to it including: abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and human embryo research.
The inclusion of the biblical passage of Cain killing Abel, not only highlights the seriousness of murder, but it is meant to address the modern world's "Culture of Death," where many countries have ushered in murder at law and within their constitutions.
Just as Cain was responsible for Abel's death, so too are many political leaders responsible for the deaths of innocent, unborn children. Canada is one such country where the political leadership has been responsible for "therapeutic abortions" since 1969, and abortion "available on demand" since 1988.
Today's post focuses on the moral disorder in Canada that has resulted from the daily, willful murder of developing human beings in the womb.
A Brief Summary of the Scriptural Passage of Cain and Abel
To understand the analogy of Canada's moral disorder and the biblical passage of Cain and Abel, I have provided a brief summary, which can be read in full at Genesis 4:9-16.
Cain and Abel, were sons of Eve. Cain a tiller of the ground and Abel was a keeper of sheep. Over time, both presented offerings to God. Abel offered the firstlings of his flock and their fat portions and Cain, fruit of the ground. Of the two offerings, God was pleased only with Abel's. As a result Cain became angry and plotted to kill Abel. Cain invited Abel to go out into the field and it was there that Cain rose up against Abel and killed him.
The Lord then asked Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" Cain replied, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" The Lord said to Cain, "What have you done?" As punishment, Cain was banished from the land he knew to live in exile, wandering about like a fugitive.
Cain became quite distressed and was worried about retribution by others for the killing of his brother. God assured him that he would not be harmed and to prove it marked Cain so that all who saw this mark, would know not to hurt him. The place of tranquility of Eden that Cain had enjoyed was to be no more. Cain finally settled in Nod, east of Eden, alone and separated from God.
By including the biblical passage of Genesis in Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II presented a fundamental concern regarding today's world that is at the core of this analogy:
"The Lord said to Cain: "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground" (Gen 4:10). The voice of the blood shed by men continues to cry out, from generation to generation, in ever new and different ways. The Lord's question: "What have you done?", which Cain cannot escape, is addressed also to the people of today to make them realize the extent and gravity of the attacks against life which continue to mark human history; to make them discover what causes these attacks and feeds them; and to make them ponder seriously the consequences which derive from these attacks for the existence of individuals and peoples. Some threats come from nature itself, but they are made worse by the culpable indifference and negligence of those who could in some cases remedy them." (10)Prime Minister Stephen Harper is one such individual who has been indifferent and negligent with his adamant refusal to allow for abortion to be debated in the House of Commons.
The Moral Disorder Within the Canadian Context
As early as September 29, 2008, Prime Minister Harper had publicly stated to reporters that his government would not open the abortion debate and would prevent anyone else from trying to do so. This shocking announcement was caught by LifeSiteNews and published in an article titled, Prime Minister Harper: Not Now, Not Ever Will Conservative Government Protect Unborn Children. On that same day Prime Minister Harper reiterated his government's position three more times!
In 2011, Harper held fast to his anti-life position when he fled from Conservative Member of Parliament Brad Trost's pro-life comments made at a pro-life convention, by stating, "As long as I'm prime minister, we are not opening the abortion debate...The government will not bring forward any such legislation, and any such legislation that is brought forward will be defeated."
There have been other Conservative MP's, such as Stephen Woodworth's Motion 312 in 2012, which sought to launch a special committee to re-examine section 223 of Canada's Criminal Code, which stipulates that a child only becomes a human being once he or she has fully proceeded from the womb. Prime Minister Harper voted against it and the motion was defeated in the House of Commons.
During that same year, Mark Warawa put forth Motion 408 to re-examine the definition of human life and condemn sex-selective abortions.
Then there are the twenty-six Conservative MPs and two Senators who were in attendance at this year's March For Life in Ottawa; a clear indication that a significant amount in Harper's government are against the killing of a developing human being in the womb.
Harper continues to ignore the concerns of Canadians, those MPs in the Conservative government, and the Senate.
Perhaps it is the view of Prime Minister Harper that he is "not his brother's keeper." What ever the case may be, as Prime Minister, he has a direct responsibility to protect Canadians, especially those most vulnerable such as those developing in the womb. This very point was emphasized by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, "But responsibility likewise falls on the legislators who have promoted and approved abortion laws, and, to the extent that they have a say in the matter, on the administrators of the health-care centres where abortions are performed." (59)
To do otherwise should be considered willful negligence on Harper's part and is the equivalent of Cain's action against Abel. Perhaps Harper flatters himself that he knows not his sins, but he will have to answer to God on Judgement Day and woe to him if his response is that of Cain's!
Pope John Paul II stated in Evangelium Vitae, "...I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being." (62)
Canada's moral disorder did not begin with the current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but with the stirrings from certain publications: Chatelaine magazine in 1959; the Globe and Mail; and the United Church Observer in 1961; all in an effort to encourage changes to the abortion law.
In addition, there was support for changes to the abortion law from the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Medical Association in 1963.
In 1963-64, The United Church of Canada and Anglican Church of Canada began to support abortion when the life of the mother was threatened.
In 1966, the notion that abortion laws should change in Canada made it into the House of Commons with Liberal MP Ian Wahn's private member's bill.
Eventually these stirrings became an inclusion in the infamous 1969 Omnibus Bill, reintroduced by then Finance Minister, John Turner. The Omnibus Bill still maintained abortion as a criminal offence, but permitted it in hospitals when an application for an abortion was approved by the majority of a "Therapeutic Abortion Committee."
As to what constituted approval by the "committee," the health of the mother was insufficiently defined, so the emotional health of the mother was also included as a "valid" reason for approving an abortion. What resulted was the approval of many abortions that quickly became the second most popular "surgical procedure" after tonsillectomies.
For complete details of how Canada's moral disorder began, see Campaign Life Coalition's Chronology of Laws.
One of the most significant developments in Canada's moral disorder was the infamous Dr. Henry Morgantaler's 1988 constitutional challenge, which resulted in the removal of all legal restrictions for the killing of a human being in the womb, and essentially began "abortion on demand" in Canada.
Today, there are abortion facilities operating legally under the euphemistic title of "Women's Health Clinic."
In my view, Canada has left the "Garden of Eden," a place of plenty, of harmonious interpersonal relationships and friendship with God, to a place on earth transformed by moral disorder, a land of Nod. Like Cain, many Canadians are marked by their willful murder of the innocent and roam the country separated from God.