The Lord appeared to Pope Leo XIII in a vision during a Mass he celebrated in 1884. He  saw wars, immorality, genocide, and apostasy on a large scale. “The harvest of misery is before our own eyes…” he wrote in 1901 (Graves de Communi Re). The culture of death spread very rapidly throughout the twentieth century with warfare, sorrows, and death. It deposed God from the throne of the human soul. The attacks on His very creation came next, with genocide, dismembering of the unborn, attacks on the sanctity of marriage, and rebellion against all His laws and commandments. He created them male and female (Genesis 5:2) but man in his foolishness decided that he could remake whom God has made.

In response, the Rockford Guild of the Catholic Medical Association was formed in August 2008 to combat the moral fog that was falling over our nation and our state. More frightening was the diffusion of this haze into the fabric of the medical profession, even seeping into the minds and souls of Catholics who were not equipped to meet these challenges. The Oath first taken at the Hippocratic School of Medicine was being slowly eroded. Since it came like a thief in the night, many did not notice a change in the air; others went with the flow. Our Guild found a rock, the national CMA, and decided to build upon it.

We are a very small group with only 12 active members, but for the last 12 years we have held more than 80 events to educate physicians, ancillary medical personnel, medical students, and the public. There have been lectures, presentations, discussions, and social gatherings with talks covering a range of topics including matters of health care such as abortion, the sanctity of marriage, stem cell research, end-of-life issues, and matters of broader Catholic concern such as the Reformation, Our Lady of Fatima and Marian apparitions, the Bible, the war against children, the credentials and authenticity of the Catholic Church, and serious challenges facing Christians.

An educational event hosted by the Rockford Guild in November 2019 was attended by more than 150 guests and addressed the root causes and challenges for the loss of faith and advancement of the culture of death. One major topic during this event was Cultural Marxism and how it can explain our current state of affairs.

In 1918, when World War I ended, it was apparent to Communists that class warfare with the Marxist expectation to overthrow all Western governments had not come to fruition. Russia alone had become communist. The Church and the institutions opposing Marxism were too strong. Antonio Gramsci, (1891-1937) the leader of the Italian Communist Party, wrote that there needed to be a “war of the trenches,” which meant that schools, universities, the media, the Church and so forth needed to be infiltrated. There was to be a slow “march through the institutions,” with the intent of gaining ideological control of those groups.

These concepts which over time developed into Cultural Marxism emerged from the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany in 1923. Within 10 years, the movement spread to the U.S. and to its colleges. The venom infiltrated many facets of American society causing radicalization and polarization. There was no intent to unite but a deliberate attempt to divide groups from one another.

The Catholic Church was not immune to this toxin. Doubt was created from within as the father of lies sowed discord among the faithful, and heretical teachings appeared within corners of the Church.

Today we are being challenged by an ideology that has permeated every facet of our society. A soft tyranny is gradually expanding its hold on the minds of people.

The profession of medicine has acquiesced to the culture of death, promoting it in academia and in medical journals. The erosion of values has enabled the normalization of that which was wrong a few decades ago. A poignant example is found in the case of Dr. Karl Brandt, the physician, SS Officer, and abortionist, who became head of the Aktion T4 euthanasia program of the National Socialists/Nazis. When he went on trial at Nuremburg, he received the death sentence for his crimes including the killing of thousands of patients in psychiatric hospitals. He indicated at his trial that the “underlying motive was to help individuals who could not help themselves and were prolonging their lives of torment.” The views on end of life issues today are akin to those of Dr. Brandt and his ilk.

As a pediatrician who has performed multiple neonatal resuscitations, I see pictures of unborn babies miraculously knit in their mothers’ wombs, and then the breathtaking arrival of these new members of God’s creation. What is it that makes doctors dismember unborn babies, pulling them out tissue by tissue, organ by organ, limb by limb? Why did these infants deserve to be destroyed, not to speak of the pain they suffer of which they are capable according to recent research, from a gestational age of 12-13 weeks?

The steady erosion of conscience, values, morals, and ethics makes it very difficult for a Catholic to pursue his mission to the sick. It is happening in the public square with Catholic politicians advancing the death culture especially through abortion, the violation of marriage, physician assisted suicide and euthanasia, while at the same time professing to be personally opposed to these evils.

What is a good Christian medical professional to do? We must say with Peter and the Apostles: “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29). “Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:14-16).

As a Catholic Guild we have proclaimed the Gospel of Life in our community, in our culture, and in our profession. As our nation stands at the crossroads of history, we must all bow our heads and kneel before the Cross of Christ. We must repent and ask for His forgiveness, as we forgive others.

“There are two Ways, one of Life and one of Death, and there is a great difference between the two Ways.” (The Didache). We pray that the Lord opens the eyes, the minds and the souls of us all, to save our nation, and move us in the right direction. And deliver us from all evil, Lord.

Dr. Baptist, M.D. is the president of the Rockford Guild and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Rockford.