The Holy Innocents
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.” (Matthew 2: 16-18)
In 2017, I was blessed to be in the Holy Land; I visited the Grotto of the Innocents in Bethlehem.
No pain is as upsetting and puts to the test our human sensitivity and our faith as innocent pain. It is humanly unsustainable. The Holy Scriptures and the faith of the Church, however, ensure that no tear is shed without it having a priceless value in the eyes of God. The blood of the children killed in Judea by the selfish folly of Herod was so precious and the screams of the tears of their mothers and fathers were so loud that today we celebrate those innocent victims with the glorious title of sainthood and martyrdom….
Tradition places the tomb of the holy innocents where there was probably a mass grave….
[As per Fr. Dobromir Jasztal:] “Herod does not join the shepherds or the Magi to seek Jesus and rejoice for his birth. He remains in the darkness of his heart and carries out his destruction. The death of the innocents, decreed by Herod, reveals the evil of the sinner who sows hatred and death while the love of the innocent, just like Jesus, bears the fruit of life and salvation.” (Custodia Terrae Sanctae, 12/28/21)
Modern Treatment of the Tiniest Innocents
As I noted recently,
Catholic teaching upholds the right of each new human being to originate in the loving embrace of mom and dad, who are married to each other. Yet no matter how each tiny young person came to be, the sanctity of her (or his) life is owed absolute/ uncompromising respect from the very first moment till natural death (Catholic Stand, 12/7/22)
Though both are absolutely forbidden by God, as conveyed in Church teaching, it is my experience that contraceptives and abortifacients are rarely – if ever - discussed from the pulpit (Catholic365, 12/9/22).
Honesty in advertising alone requires that a hospital which identifies as “Catholic” practice in a Catholic manner. It is reasonable to expect that OBGYN professionals at Catholic hospitals practice in a manner consistent with Catholic teaching. Abortion and contraceptives should be absolutely rejected.
Via a very accessible video, Dr Chris Kahlenborn speaks of how abortifacients are sometimes allowed in Catholic hospitals (Plan B: Current Controversies, 2018)! His ethical objection to is supported by other highly credentialed professionals (e.g.,
· Rebecca Peck, MD, Walter Rella, MD, Julio Tudelo, PharmD, PhD, Justo Aznar, PhD, and Bruno Moznegga, MD, Does levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive have a post-fertilization effect? A review of its mechanism of action, Linacre Quarterly, April 2016;
· Rebecca Peck, MD, Chris Kahlenborn, MD and Walter B Severs, PhD, FCP, Mechanism of action of levonorgestrel emergency contraception, , Linacre Quarterly, February 2015;
· Father Juan Velez, MD and Rebecca Peck, MD, The Postovulatory Mechanism of Action of Plan B, NCBC Quarterly, Winter 2013
· Bruno Mozzanega and Giovan Battista Nardelli, UPA and LNG in emergency contraception: the information by EMA and the scientific evidences indicate a prevalent anti-inplantation effect, The European Journal of contraception and reproductive health care, January 2019)
Our Moral Choice
Our faith needs to be transparent. Under no circumstances should Catholic hospitals jeopardize the Catholic witness by providing abortifacients or contraceptives.