There was a time in Argentine history when both those in government and those governed agreed on one important thing: “Our territory is empty, we need to increase our population.” Argentina opened its doors to immigration, and roughly between 1840 and 1940, many European immigrants arrived to live mostly in Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Cordoba, the largest cities in the country.
A law mandated that the seventh male son of any family had to be the godson of the nation’s president. It was the way to honor big families, especially those who brought strong men to the harvest, and youth to the army ranks. The country of that time was not only fertile but also socially vigorous, and fiercely optimistic.
Yes, there were Socialists in the 1800s, even some who were rabidly anticlerical, but they were considered a quaint, harmless minority permanently inhabiting the elegant cafes of Buenos Aires. That changed with the post-1910 European immigration. Revolutionaries, Carbonari, Socialists, Communists, Fascists, and many others, each carrying every strange idea brewing in Europe, began to arrive and thrive in the prosperous years of the early 20th century.
Their arrival changed the moral landscape of the country. The Catholic Church of Argentina did little or nothing of substance to turn the tide. Too many people were arriving nonstop for decades, changing the mores of their venerable Spanish heritage into a motley Babylon. Uncontrolled immigration ended up arresting the development of a very promising society.
About 100 years after the first Radical Party member was elected President, followed by the rise and fall of Peronism, dozens of military “golpes de estado,” and a number of financial crashes, Argentina still struggles to accept its own decadence and – horror of horrors to the Argentine psyche – its irrelevance in the global family of nations.
Still an empty country lacking enough critical mass to ignite a decent economy, now Argentina is once more debating the legalization of abortion.
The conversation is framed within the confines of relativism. It hurts to hear certain people, for example, the philosopher – an otherwise quite intelligent man – Santiago Kovadloff, say things like: “A country has the possibility to grow if it admits that consensus is an accord we can arrive at by renouncing the revealed truth, thus generating an enormous possibility of coexistence. Because if I admit that I am not absolutely right, and also agree that you can be partially right, I must conclude that to dispense with you, I also have to dispense with the truth.”
The statement, coming from a leading Argentine thinker, is truly disturbing. Comments like that are common among the local intelligentsia. Often those long pseudo-arguments can be reduced to “we make our own truth by consensus, there is no objective truth, and whoever disagrees with us is a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal or a remnant from the Middle Ages, and an agent of darkness.”
Certain scientific, proven objective truths are completely ignored. For example, “After fertilization, the packets of DNA from male and female form a new human genome.” This is a statement that is perfectly acceptable to determine paternity and legal parental responsibilities in Argentine Law, but that very principle is absent – in fact, is purposely avoided – when discussing whether or not abortion kills a real human being.
You see, our brilliant intellectuals don’t want to be “dogmatic” but one minute later will be willing to chop the head of anyone who denies that pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is altering Earth’s climate. Science may be good for the goose, but not for the gander.
Unfortunately, none of the many British, Germans, Greeks, or Italians who arrived on Argentine shores, was able to produce a philosopher of note. In that sense, Argentina remains sterile. The appalling state of the country is the direct result of a mediocre intellectual landscape.
What has the Church done to help? I won’t say that the Church has done nothing. That would not be true. But the Church of Argentina has a record of either ignoring or even persecuting our best and brightest. Fr. Leonardo Castellani comes to mind. On the other hand, mediocrity has been duly encouraged. To use a colloquial phrase uttered often by suffering Argentines: “Es lo que hay” – it is what it is.
In that sad context, tens of thousands of Argentines (video here) marched on Palm Sunday to protest against the legalization of abortion. It was a large, peaceful, nationwide march contrasting with the usual small hordes of mayhem and destruction marching to demand abortion. Bishops and many priests were seen walking with their congregations.
I hope that marks the beginning of a return from the shadowlands of Liberation Theology and Marxism in general – Lord, hear my prayer.
The local newspapers report that during the march, Patricia, an American citizen – a former employee of a U.S. abortionist, with a personal history of three abortions – gave a wrenching account of how she managed to abandon her former lifestyle of sex and drugs. She is now involved in supporting pro-life movements worldwide.
Since abortion is widely practiced illegally in some of the posh health clinics of Buenos Aires, there was no lack of locals warning others of the horrors of post-abortion life.
It was fitting to have that march on Palm Sunday when the Logos, the Author of Life Incarnate, entered Jerusalem to the acclamation of the crowd. Only a few days later, he would be arrested at the Garden of Gethsemane. Remember that our word “abortion” comes from two Latin words, ab (outside, ripped out) and hortus/ortus (garden/birth) “what is outside the garden” or “what does not bloom.”
Mediocre religious and pusillanimous political leaders committed the worst crime in history by nailing a perfectly innocent man to a Roman cross. It would be a really good sign for Argentina – after one century of darkness – if her lawmakers had the guts to affirm life, paying no attention to the crowd shouting, “Crucify Him!”
*Image: Pro vida: Thousand took to the streets on Palm Sunday in Buenos Aires. [Photo: Osvaldo Fantón / AMB]