Photos debase human life

By | January 20, 2011

This is way beyond “dress up in Mommie’s clothes.” One Catholic blogger, Elizabeth Scalia, called the photo shoot “Pedophilia Chic.”

Outside of some conservative Web sites and Christian blogs, though, little if any public concern seems to have been voiced about the Vogue Paris issue. Yet there are countless reasons to voice concern.

One is the 38th anniversary this weekend of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton) that legalized abortion on demand. Since 1973, we have lost more than 50 million babies. Some of them, had they lived, would be only 6 or 7 today. Others would be the parents of 6- or 7-year-olds. Just the thought is chilling. None of them here now. Would those never-to-be parents have been appalled to see their children used this way?

Last week, apostolic visitations of Ireland by representatives sent by Pope Benedict XVI began. These investigators, including Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, are exploring the causes and conditions that led to extensive clergy sex abuse of children dating back to 1974 as revealed in the 2009 Murphy Report. Irish parents and families are suffering terribly. And yet someone in France — an editor of an international magazine, no less — couldn’t see the pain that such a connection might cause? Especially at Christmas time?

And what about U.S. parents? Especially those in the pro-life movement? Their goal is to protect life, at all stages. Portraying little girls as sex objects does not do that. (And this includes fashion magazines and provocative TV ads — especially as we approach the Super Bowl weekend TV blitz.) Such portrayals leave girls open to abuse. And they leave men and boys open to ideas that are not life-supporting. Just look at the statistics on how pornography destroys marriages.

Finally, how do U.S. priests and bishops feel?

Since 2002, when the U.S. bishops approved their “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,” dioceses around the country have followed strict procedures to protect children and to train priests and other church ministers to recognize and appropriately handle possible sexual abuse. Yet, despite all their increased sensitivity, an international magazine — considered the “world’s most famous fashion magazine” — portrays children in a way that should set off all sorts of warning bells to anyone trained to protect children. Yet no one in the national — or international — spotlight says a thing.

Society has blurred the lines between fashion and taste too much. A 23-year-old woman in sexually suggestive attire may not be exactly in good taste to everyone, but a child in the same attire should never be. And it should be more than distasteful. It makes a mockery of all the efforts by churches, schools, parents and individual volunteers and ministers to protect children. It makes a mockery of all the efforts to help people to see the true gift: that all human life is beautiful and valuable — not as a commodity to sell magazines or TV ads, but as presents from God.

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