Rorate Caeli

A novena for life in Portugal

On February 11, millions of Portuguese voters will cast their ballots in the second referendum called for the legalization of abortion in the country. Does this seem like old news to you? Yes, there was a recent referendum on abortion in Portugal in 1998, but the answer from the limited number of voters who cast their ballots at the time was the "wrong" one: NO.

As is well known, there is only one acceptable result in European referenda: that which is determined beforehand by the European political elites. When the people's choice is unexpected, just ask the people again!

Naturally, irrespective of the answer provided by the Portuguese voters who choose to vote in February, the Truth of the matter can never be darkened.* A "yes" vote in favor of the death of babies in the Portuguese Republic will not make it right; yet, why not pray for the best result?

We invite all our readers and their families and friends to pray a novena for life to Our Lady, beginning on Our Lady's Saturday following Candlemas (Feb. 3) and ending on Feb. 11, the day of the referendum and Feast of the Apparition of Our Lady (at Lourdes), so that the right to life shall remain protected in one of its last bastions in Europe. Use the prayer of your choice (though the Most Holy Rosary seems certainly to be the most appropriate). If you are able to ask a community of religious men or women of your acquaintance to pray for life in Portugal, please do. And, if you are a priest and are able to include this intention among those for which you offer the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, please take it into consideration.

*As Pope John Paul II affirmed in an important passage of Evangelium Vitæ:

If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. ... At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life.

This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people-even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part.

In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part. The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy.

Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: "How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practised: some individuals are held to be deserving of defence and others are denied that dignity?" When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.