When I was a college undergraduate, I read Malcolm Muggeridge’s book Something Beautiful for God, a transcript of his remarkable BBC interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Muggeridge, a British journalist, author, and television personality, was not the prototypical mainstream-media sceptic who treated religion as a branch of sociology. He was a man searching for truth, and in Mother Teresa he met someone whose life was a shining witness to Truth. Under her influence he eventually converted to Catholicism.
On April 24, 1978, Muggeridge published an essay in the New York Times entitled “25 Propositions on a 75th Birthday.” It says a lot about how the times—and the Times—have changed that the editors saw fit to describe Muggeridge’s pointed critiques of modernity as “wisdom.”
The following observations from the essay, I reckon, wouldn’t make it onto the op-ed page today:
- When mortal men try to live without God they infallibly succumb to megalomania or erotomania, or both. The raised fist or the raised phallus…
- The three most disastrous inventions of our time have been the birth control pill, the camera and nuclear weaponry. The first offers sex in terms of sterility, the second reality in terms of fantasy, and the third security in terms of destruction.
- Two contemporary notions, of progress and of equality, have proved particularly disastrous. The former elevates change into being in itself desirable, which, as Euclid says, is absurd, and the latter is equally fallacious. Human beings are not equal, but they are brothers and sisters, as belonging to one family, and all created in the image of their Creator. All the ruin of Western man lies in the change from Brother to Comrade.
- Alas, the terrible inhumanity of the humane! Herod’s slaughter of the innocents was negligible compared with the millions of babies slaughtered under the legalized abortion procedures now existing almost everywhere. Again, as legalized euthanasia gets under way the Nazi performance in this field pales into insignificance. At Nuremberg the Nazi practice of legalized euthanasia was condemned as a war crime. So, it takes 30 years to transform a war crime into an act of compassion.
How ironically tragic it is that soon France, victim of Nazi barbarities, will likely embrace this crime against humanity. Pope Francis, on his return flight to Rome from Marseille on September 23, addressed the prospect of the French government legalizing euthanasia in words that echo Muggeridge’s lament over the false compassion that kills people in the name of loving them.
Pope Francis spoke out against what he called the “policy of ‘no pain,’ of a humanistic euthanasia.” He warned of “ideological colonization that ruins human life and goes against human life . . . There exists an ‘ugly compassion’ . . . Science has come to turn some painful diseases into less painful events, accompanying them with many medicines. But life must not be played with.”
The Western cult of progress preaches that imperfections in all areas of human life and endeavor can and must be rooted out over time. The sick and the old, the mentally ill and the merely unhappy are told by promoters of progressive “solutions” that there is a way out of their imperfect existence: “Let us help you to die.” The “ugly compassion” of death-dealing problem-solvers is born of diabolical lies that promise happiness in destroying what God has made.
Brothers and sisters understand they have a duty to take care of those to whom they are related. Muggeridge reminds us we are all brothers and sisters, and that we must not make anyone an object of the cruel compassion that insists killing is the way to liberation. Euthanasia proponents exclude our brothers and sisters in need from the family circle of love and obligation that comes from being a descendant of Adam and Eve. A war crime can never become an act of compassion. We owe our Creator, and our brothers and sisters, love. Anything else brings death and disaster upon all of us.