Underneath the horrors brought in the 20th century from all manner of totalitarian regimes was the cheapening of life.
Individuals were worth nothing on their own except for what they could contribute to the state, this ideology purported. Human beings were simply part of a mass. The state was everything, taking the place of God.
In Germany under the Nazis one way this played out was in its euthanasia program. First, children who had mental and physical handicaps were targeted. Later, it destroyed adults who were considered unfit for life.
The Nazi logic was threefold: It ended the imagined suffering of the person; hence, the term “mercy killing”; it took away the care of such people from “burdened” families and allowed more resources, such as food, to those who could benefit the state. There was a reason the Nazis called these poor souls “useless eaters.”
In the midst of this nightmare, Alfred Delp, a German Jesuit priest, summed up what it meant to destroy those who are in need of our love and care.
“A community that gets rid of someone — a community that is allowed to, and can, and wants to get rid of someone when he no longer is able to run around as the same attractive or useful member — has thoroughly misunderstood itself,” he is quoted as saying in With Bound Hands, an early biography of Father Delp by Mary Frances Coady. “Even if all of a person’s organs have given out, and he no longer can speak for himself, he nevertheless remains a human being. Moreover, to those who live around him, he remains an ongoing appeal to their inner nobility, to their inner capacity to love, and to their sacrificial strength. Take away people’s capacity to care for their sick and to heal them, and you make the human being into a predator, an egotistical predator that really only thinks of his own nice existence.”
Read more at National Catholic Register