Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Baby Abandoned At Church

This is a local story that is generating a lot of buzz.
[WaPo] A newborn girl was left in the parking lot of a Springfield Catholic church just before Mass on Sunday, and police were trying to find the mother.

The baby was found about 6:30 a.m. when a patron of St. Raymond of Penafort Roman Catholic Church, at 8750 Pohick Rd., noticed a [duffel] bag in the parking lot. The infant, thought to have been just hours old, was inside. The patron called for help, and the baby was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital. 

It was unclear whether the mother would face criminal charges. Broderick said the baby was left outside and unattended, rather than in the church or another safe location. Virginia law allows parents to leave a child who is less than 14 days old at a hospital or rescue squad as long as the baby is left "in a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety." 
There are a lot of things that could be said about this story. As a parent I find it shocking and outrageous that any parent anywhere would abandon his or her child. It makes my blood boil that anyone would intentionally endanger a child. Do you really think that putting a newborn baby in a duffel bag and ditching it in a parking lot is "a manner reasonably calculated to ensure the child's safety"?!!

After taking a few deep breaths, I realize that it is a compassionate thing to have sanctuary laws that allow children to be cared for when their parents don't want them. I don't understand the reasoning that would lead a parent to actually do such a thing, but I do understand the need for such a law. People can and do get into some pretty messed up situations. Plus, the alternatives are worse: abuse, abortion, dumpsters, soylent green (yes, get angry about this one!).

Clearly the mother of the child needs help and I hope she gets it. Looking at this from a slightly different angle and a more positive one, I find a note of hope that the baby was abandoned at a Catholic church. Why? Because there is still the understanding that Catholics, especially church-going Catholics, are defenders of the "least of these" and will actually do something to help.

Real Catholics don't kill babies and for all the Church's personal and institutional mistakes of late, her doctrine and basic respect for all human persons isn't one of them. We still have the guardian of the deposit of the Faith and Jesus himself -- and therefore real Hope. "So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love".

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