Archive for October, 2008

Abortion and the Ukrainian famine Holodomor 1932-1933

October 29, 2008


“Whatever else I may do or think in the future, I must never pretend that I haven’t seen this.” Malcolm Muggeridge, Winter in Moscow

Earlier in 2008 the Saskatchewan Government proclaimed a very unique act at the Legislature, The Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day Act.  Such a gesture is really appreciated by the Ukrainian community in Saskatchewan, Canada, and Ukraine.  There was a time when the Ukrainian famine of 1932-1933, which claimed well over six million lives, was denied within Ukraine and the former Soviet Union. 

I remember an important event occurred in 1983 during the 50th anniversary of the famine.  I was living in Toronto at the time and attended the cinematic release of “Harvest of Despair”, a documentary on that event.  That same year I attended an event in Washington, D.C., at which we protested in front of the Soviet Embassy.  A great public affirmation of the truth of survivors’ claims about the famine came in the form of recognition by the United Nations, which the Saskatchewan Act refers to as a precedent for its decision:  Whereas the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) of 1932-33 has been recognized by the United Nations and by the international community.” 

The Ukrainian word “Holodomor” means to kill by hunger, or to torture with hunger.” The historical event of the famine refers to the years when farmland was collectivized in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian farm family, which had a reputation for having a fair number of children, was destroyed.  It is estimated that the communists killed between seven and ten million people through this program.

The Act given assent by the Saskatchewan Government reads: “The fourth Saturday in November in each year is declared to be “Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) Memorial Day” for the purposes of recognizing the Ukrainian Famine and Genocide (Holodomor) of 1932-33 and of reflecting on the lessons to be learned from that event.” 

One of the lessons learned from the Ukrainian famine is that language and law were manipulated to de-humanize the Ukrainian farmer.  Once it was declared that the Ukrainian farmers were not human beings it became possible to justify their deaths through famine.  Philosophically, the famine is related to other horrors:  writers on the

Holocaust understand those events in a similar way, namely that Jews were proclaimed not to be human. 

In the novel, “Forever Flowing”, by Vasilii Grossman, the author speaks about the Holocaust and the Holodomor: “In order to massacre them, it was necessary to proclaim that kulaks are not human beings. Just as the Germans proclaimed that Jews are not human beings.”  A kulak, or kurkul, was a private farmer.  “They are kulaks, not human beings” formed part of the lexicon of the dark world that made the famine possible – which British journalist and pro-life author Malcolm Muggeridge, who was an eyewitness to the famine, referred to as a “macabre ballet.”

In our present culture, there are remarkable parallels with the thinking that makes abortion on demand possible.  Language and law have been manipulated to de-humanize the unborn child.  Where statistics bureaus registered deaths during the Holodmor as death not from famine but from “digestive ailment”, our statistics count late-term abortions as “stillbirths.”

            Thank you, Government of Saskatchewan, for the Famine Memorial Act.  An honest examination of the lessons learned brings us right back to our own day and age, and the horror of death by abortion.



Of Human Life, Humanae vitae 40th anniversary

October 11, 2008

“Life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject.”  Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace 1 January, 2007.

I am dedicating the next two years to the anniversary of an incredible teaching document of the Catholic Church.  Written in 1968, its 40th anniversary will be commemorated in 2008.  I am referring to the papal encyclical, or letter, called “Humanae vitae,” a Latin phrase translated as “On Human Life.”  It was written by Pope Paul VI as an instruction on the church’s enduring teaching about what the generation of human life really means, and about the ghastly dangers of artificial contraception. 

It is a beautifully written and heartfelt document, prophetic in its warning that a contraceptive culture will develop lower and lower moral standards, certain in its judgment about the evils of artificial contraception, and eternally optimistic in the mercy of God for those anxious and repentant over past decisions to contracept., 

One of the principles of this document is that only God can create something out of nothing.  The Church is saddened by such statements as “my body, my choice” because it is a false statement, erroneous in its assumption that I have final decision over my life.  This statement is only a possibility in a culture of privacy, a relatively recent legal development that trumps natural and moral reality. 

The legal right to privacy has been invoked to defend contraception, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, and euthanasia, with no consideration for the very public consequences of these so-called private acts. 

Another principle of Humanae vitae is that faith tells us that human sexuality is a gift from God.  It is God’s will that husband and wife strengthen their relationship through their sexuality, and it is God’s will that they become cooperators with Him in the generation of new life.  Human life and one’s eternal soul begin at conception, and with natural family planning there is never a risk as with artificial contraception that a newly conceived human being is about to be destroyed. 

As the current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has written in his New Year’s message, the Church is “the sign and safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person” in the world.  In other words, it is the task of Christian leaders to remind us that our humanity in its nature and goal is greater than anything we ourselves can possibly imagine.  Here’s to a blessed preparation for the 40th anniversary of Humanae vitae. – Fr. Jeffrey D. Stephaniuk