The recent turmoil surrounding the recent passage of healthcare legislation by the United States Congress is providing ample opportunity to look at the absence of Orthodox leadership. As a reminder, this blog’s purpose is not political. To the extent this legislation reflects Caesar’s affairs, it is generally best for the Church to remain silent.
Sadly, though, this legislation is not purely about political matters, for it has provisions for using taxes gathered from individuals, including Christians, to pay for elective abortions in all or part (c.f., here and here). Despite the scandalously equivocal language used by the Ecumenical Patriarch in discussing abortion (c.f., here, here, here, and here), the Church’s teaching cannot be misunderstood. As a best example, consider St. Basil the Great (AD 330-379), who says absolutely nothing new: “Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children, are murderesses” (Letter 188). Children in the womb are human beings, and their willful destruction is murder. So what about all those who will now find themselves accessories to the crime through the new legal requirement to fund abortion?
In the face of this legislation, this question, and the evil that is elective abortion, the silence from our Orthodox leaders is deafening. Goarch.org? Oca.org? Antiochian.org? ROCOR? The Serbian Church in America? SCOBA? Nothing. We are justified in wailing with grief over more than 250,000 dead in Haiti, yet over 1.2 million elective abortions are performed each year in the United States alone. All is now set to begin funding them with tax dollars, and no official word of protest or exhortation is to be found.
Worse, at least one professor at Holy Cross Seminary is reportedly elated at the passing of this legislation, and I am nearly certain he has company among the faculty at St. Vladimir’s. Is it any wonder, then, that our parishes have so many individuals – often lifelong Orthodox Christians – who think abortion is no big deal? Is it any wonder that many of our parish clergy are indifferent to (if not supportive of) abortion? If the shepherds won’t wield their staves to drive away wolves wearing power suits and lab coats, aided by the Internal Revenue Service, who will? If they won’t, who can reasonably be expected to?
To those bishops (especially those whom I have overlooked) and my brethren who are speaking against the wanton destruction of these little ones by means of tax subsidies in the name of health care, I thank you and pray that your efforts would yield much fruit by strengthening and encouraging the Orthodox faithful to stand firm. To the others, the bigger lambs need someone to feed them (Jn 21:14-19), and the littlest ones need someone to speak in their defense. Who will do it?
[Edited 3/23/10, 4:20pm EDT, to fix a sentence.]