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Voices Online Edition
Vol. XXVI, No. 3
Michaelmas 2011

With Little Stir

by Donald DeMarco

The distinguished scientist/philosopher Alfred North Whitehead makes an unexpected yet important comment in his book Science and the Modern World. Concerning “a babe born in a manger”, he doubts whether “so great a thing has [ever] happened with so little stir”. The media, of course, was not present at the first Christmas.

By contrast, it cannot be said that the April 29, 2011 wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, to Catherine Middleton happened without a stir. More than 5,000 street parties were held to celebrate the royal wedding throughout the United Kingdom and one million onlookers lined the route between Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. In the United Kingdom 36.7 million viewed the television coverage, along with tens of millions more around the world. Seventy-two million people tuned in to the wedding on the YouTube Royal Channel.

Something else transpired within the royal family a few years back that, to some, has considerable spiritual and historical significance, though it happened, like the babe in the manger, with little stir. In a private ceremony in August 2001, Nicholas Charles Edward Jonathan Windsor, the youngest child of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, and the great-grandson of King George V, was received into the Catholic Church. By virtue of his conversion, Lord Nicholas forfeited his right to succession to the British throne. He became the first male blood member of the Royal Family to become a Catholic since Charles II on his deathbed in 1685.

Five years after his conversion, Lord Nicholas Windsor married Paola Doimi de Lupis Frankopan on November 4 in the Church of Santo Stefano degli Abissini in the Vatican. It was the first time a member of the Royal Family married within the rites of the Roman Catholic Church since 1554, with the union of Queen Mary I and Philip II of Spain. Nonetheless, their wedding did not cause much of a stir.

However, like Christ and His disciples, who continually do cause a stir, Lord Nicholas is following in the footsteps of his Master, by stirring things up on the pro-life front. He is patron of the Right to Life Charitable Trust and the Catholic National Library. He is exceptionally intelligent, writes beautifully, and is a fearless defender of all human life, including the unborn child in the womb.

In an essay appropriately titled “Caesar’s Thumb” (First Things, December 2010), he compares the arbitrary aborting of the unwanted child with Caesar’s arbitrary “thumbs down” that sent an untold number of gladiators to their premature demise. “Choice” — whether Caesar’s or the aborting woman’s — fails to take into consideration the rights and reality of the one who perishes. It is an act of raw power.

Lord Nicholas is not timid about describing the enormity of abortion: “This is a historically unprecedented cascade of destruction wrought on individuals: on sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, future spouses and friends, mothers and fathers — destroyed in the form of those to whom we owe, quite simply and certainly, the greatest solidarity and duty of care because they are the weakest and most dependent of our fellow humans.”

It has been a “cruel deceit”, he writes, for Europeans to think that they would never again kill on an “industrial scale”. He therefore calls for a “New Abolitionism” for Europe. Just as late-nineteenth-century America abolished slavery, courageous and imaginative members of the new millennium must work together to abolish abortion. Yet, as he is quick to point out, we must do more than abolish abortion:

We must also creatively envisage new and compelling answers to the problems that give rise to this practice, when the easiest solutions may be destructive or distorting ones. And the goal is that human life, without any exception, may be as treasured and respected as the highest moral thought has perennially called for it to be, and as our conscience surely sounds the echo.

Lord Nicholas is certainly causing a stir, despite the absence of accompanying media fanfare. This stir, however, is not of a spectacular nature, but one that is aimed at the heart. Paradoxically, Lord Nicholas Windsor has chosen to forfeit any right to be King of England, so that he can serve a wider constituency in a larger kingdom. God save the ex-potential king —and let his enthusiasm for life stir souls and re-enliven our love for and defense of all human life.

Donald DeMarco is professor emeritus of philosophy at Saint Jerome’s University, Ontario, and adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary and Mater Ecclesiae College. Dr. DeMarco is well-known as a writer for Catholic publications, and for his numerous books, including The Many Faces of Virtue.

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