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American ethical understanding has been that any action is okay as long as it doesn’t harm another person. Now, that is not Catholic moral teaching or even Christian evangelical morality, but it does depict American pragmatism. Language needed to be changed so that it could fit into the political agenda of modern day secularists; if it’s not a human being then “no harm no foul.” However, the reality is that it is a human being and harm is being done.
Another recent example of the change of language was seen when the “Little Sisters of the Poor” were listed in “The Dirty 100,” published by the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.). Please correct me if I am wrong, but “dirty” means something “soiled.” Webster’s dictionary uses the words, defiled with dirt, smutty, base, sordid and despicable to express the term “dirty.” Why are the “Little Sisters of the Poor” listed on “The Dirty 100” list? It’s simply because they are women who serve the poor and especially those who are elderly, often in hospice type settings. They dedicate their lives to fulfilling the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. What makes them dirty, sordid or smutty? Oh! I get it! They refuse to fund the taking of human life. These women who live their lives embodying the virtue of chastity are now smutty.
Wow, has my Catholic education been deficient. Living on the south side of Chicago, I can tell you that “dirty” was never synonymous with virtue, at least in my neighborhood. I’ll have to contact the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth who educated me and let them know of their error.
Soon the sisters will be dragged into court by the United States government. They will have to defend their goodness (the commitment to the teachings of the Church) and their virtue (living their lives dedicated to the evangelical counsels). Who would have ever imagined that in a country founded on religious freedom, the “Little Sisters of the Poor” would have to defend their religious beliefs? They have a right to be free from any government intrusion that would attempt to interpret for the sisters the religious teaching of the Catholic Church.