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G. K. Chesterton Conference in the News  

G. K. Chesterton Institute "Chesterton & Eugenics: The Challenge of our Times," was featured in media throughout the world, including The Times of Malta, Vatican Radio, Catholic Register and

This year's conference was held in Birkikara, Malta and was hosted by The G. K. Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture at Seton Hall and Life Network Malta.

The Catholic Register writes:

"Population control is fulfilling the work of imperialism; it is imperialism by another name. When we can no longer control territory, we control populations," Dermot Quinn, professor of history at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey, told Catholic News Service.

Eugenics, the controlled breeding of the human race to promote or eliminate certain traits, remains a relevant challenge that must be opposed today as it was by English writer G.K. Chesterton in the early 20th century, Quinn said.

Quinn and Basilian Father Ian Boyd, president of the G.K. Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture at Seton Hall, were in Rome before travelling to Malta to speak June 10 at a conference on "Chesterton and Eugenics: The Challenge of our Time."

The "eugenic mentality was something that Chesterton opposed in 1913 and should be opposed in 2016 because we have even more so today a 'throwaway culture,' a distinction between 'worthy' kinds of human life and 'unworthy' kinds of human life," Quinn said.

The term "eugenics" was coined in the 1880s by Francis Galton, a half-cousin of Charles Darwin, and the concept centered on the belief that the human race needed to be protected from those deemed "unfit" or "feeble-minded." Research facilities dedicated to eugenics sprang up in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, France and the United States. But, most notably, the idea rose to prominence in Nazi Germany with the passing of the Eugenic Sterilization Law in 1933, which ordered doctors to sterilize anyone suspected of suffering from hereditary disease.

The policy is believed to have been the precursor to the Nazis' "Final Solution" resulting in the genocide of an estimated six million European Jews.

Prior to the Second World War, however, a belief in eugenics was popular among elites, professionals, scientists and opinion makers, yet it was strongly opposed by Chesterton, a Catholic writer and philosopher.

"Chesterton thought the eugenics movement was based on false anthropology - that is, treating human beings as if they were higher-order animals and breeding-cart horses. But he also saw it, of course, as an assault on the poor," Boyd said. "The people who were passing all this legislation did not mean it should apply to them or to their children. They always legislated as if they were legislating for another species."

Chesterton's book, Eugenics and Other Evils, was published in 1922.

The author, Boyd said, "understood that evil is always introduced with sweet-sounding names; that you put people to sleep. With these euphemisms, you give them chloroform before you attack them."

Read more:

Catholic Register, "Chesterton conference confronts challenge of modern-day eugenics."

Vatican Radio, "Chesterton & Eugenics: the challenge of our time."

The Times of Malta "Chesterton and eugenics.", "Chesterton conference confronts challenge of modern-day eugenics."

The Malta Independent, "The spectre of eugenics."

Newsbook Catholic Network Malta, RKO Radio, "Filmat: 'Favur l-għażla mhi xejn għajr favur il-mewt.'"

Categories: Faith and Service

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  • Michael Ricciardelli
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