By now, many people around the world have heard the story of Charlie Gard. He is an infant afflicted with an extremely rare disease that is normally fatal. His parents, doing anything they can to save their child, have appealed to the courts of England and the EU to try an experimental treatment in the US. Many people have donated to their cause, making money no issue, but the courts still decided against permitting these parents to have the treatment.
The courts reasoned that the treatment would likely not succeed, so the couple should stop wasting time and money to even make the attempt. Instead, they must let their child die.
In a world where abortions kill millions of people each year and the legalization of assisted-suicide continues to spread, most people find this decision regrettable, but relatively insignificant. In terms of numbers (the only criteria for the modern moralist), the death of a child from a rare disease should not receive so much attention—then again, the same people who say this tend to shrug off most forms of genocide, so maybe numbers do not matter so much after all.
The cause for alarm behind the death of Charlie Gard lies in the fact that the court actively stopped the parents from seeking treatment. This marks a shift in attitude from one of permitting a parent to kill his or her child to one that orders the parent to kill the child. This obviously sets a dangerous precedent: if the state does not think it is worth it to save a life, even if it does not bear the cost, it can deny treatment.
This bodes nothing less than death for so many others, especially the majority who do not have the moral and financial support that Charlie’s parents had. So many in Europe depend on government-provided healthcare, and these governments have limited resources and an equally limited will to bother keeping their citizens alive. Already, in countries that have legalized assisted-suicide, the elderly now face pressure from doctors to kill themselves when they have their checkups—Logan’s Run has suddenly moved from science fiction to reality.
Sadly, the Vatican has little to say on this. As people look for some kind of moral authority in this case, the officials of the Church responded by essentially saying, “Who are we to judge?” They commended all the parties involved, but in their typical mealy-mouthed manner, ultimately excused the government’s decision to deny the parents from seeking treatment, using a mix of mischaracterization, equivocation, and ambiguity. Considering that Pope Francis and his advisers in Rome have all but endorsed population control for the sake of Mother Earth (or the sake of popularity among secular leftists), such laissez-faire morality should not surprise anyone—though Catholics may consider following the example of St. Paul rebuking St. Peter for not taking a stand.
The Charlie Gard case stands as just one salient instance of Western civilization failing. Many other similar decisions in courts and parliaments reflect this collective hopelessness. Questions of healthcare have now devolved into questions of care itself—as in, does anyone actually care to keep their neighbor alive?
The problem is deep-rooted, and people on the side of life need to recognize the great moral gulf that has grown immeasurably between believers and nonbelievers. The former cannot appeal to the latter’s conscience because his conscience has disappeared, and he cannot even appeal to self-interest because his will to thrive has also disappeared. All things have become utterly meaningless for the majority of people in the world—life, death, sex, freedom, pleasure, pain.
When believing Catholics encounter typical secular agnostics (since most people lack the energy to even articulate their skepticism), they should recognize that they encounter a sad group with a multitude of facades. Even if they brag about enjoying their latest travels, their favorite television shows, their new diet, they are still not happy, let alone motivated enough enough to save the lives of others—and they usually despise those who actually are happy and value life.
When Catholics realize this, they will understand that mere appeasement and affirmation of the other side does nothing but prolong the evil. If a man wants to keep his humanity he must reinforce the good habits and truths that the other side disdains. He must live a fruitful and happy life filled with children and faithful devotion, attracting those of the other side away from their delusions. The Bible states truly that their way leads to death. Besides approving abortion and euthanasia, they do not believe in God, in marriage, in family, in community, or in their own humanity—they believe in the pointless pleasures and pains of animals, using their compromised reason the one and minimize the other.
Rather than the burden of life, Catholics must take on the burden of death. Once they do, they will find that they are not fighting an evil government, or evil trend in the culture, but are fighting Evil itself, a force that demands the active resistance, not the passive tolerance, of Christ and the Church. As Charlie Gard and the other countless victims around the world can attest, this is not a fight of philosophies and preferences, but of life itself.