Life and control, good and evil

One of the most chilling stories I’ve ever seen on public television was about China’s past policy of one child per couple. To control population growth, the communist government decreed that each couple was allowed to have only one baby.

If a couple conceived a second child, that child was to be immediately killed. They asked one woman who policed this policy how many babies she thought she had killed during her “career.” She estimated that she had killed between 40,000 to 60,000 infants – and she was only one of many thousands of women doing similar jobs. Control over peoples’ lives was complete.

Gradually, the communist government of China realized that it could make money off of these babies. They continued to take the second child away from the parents, but instead of killing it, they put the baby up for adoption. The babies were placed in so-called “orphanages” and kind foreigners would adopt them, thinking they were truly orphans. Naturally, the communist government kept all the money.

I tell this story to put our own lives in perspective. A wise man from Altoona, Pa., frequently said: “We don’t know how good we’ve got it.” We really don’t.

The Catholic Church is often criticized for its opposition to abortion. I see rallies where women demand “the right to control their own bodies.” The Catholic Church is not taking away that right. The control comes from making decisions before you get pregnant. Our culture seems to preach that sex is mandatory, and life is optional. In truth, sex is optional and life is mandatory. If you become pregnant, and don’t feel like you want the baby, then the baby can be put up for adoption.

Recently we’ve grieved the loss of life in Hurricane Dorian, especially in the Bahamas. We grieve because we know that life is sacred. None of us can bring back any life from the dead. But we can bring new life into the world.

The power of evil destroys life. We share the power of God when we give life.


Father Joseph Breighner

Father Joseph Breighner

Father Joseph Breighner is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a columnist for the Catholic Review.