On July 20, while visiting my daughter who is living in the lovely city of Málaga in Andalucia, a story on page 12 of the local paper, Málaga Hoy, caught my eye.

On the afternoon of February 19, 2015, a young man collected his girlfriend’s three-year old son from his nursery school in Málaga. By mobile phone, he informed the child’s mother that they were destined by car to the commercial center of the city. This, however, was not the case. Instead, he drove the child to a remote reservoir in the surrounding hills, into which he threw him, sin miramientos, that is to say “with callous indifference,” and stood by while the little boy drowned in the frigid water.

The objective of this act was to remove what he considered an obstacle to his relationship with his pareja (“partner”), the child’s mother. As it turns out, drowning the child was actually the culprit’s fallback plan. He had first attempted to prevail upon the boy’s biological father, who was living in the Spanish province of Ceuta in North Africa, to take responsibility for the child. He did this on the pretext that his girlfriend was a less than adequate mother. The boy’s father expressed no interest, and so the final disposal of the inconvenient minor was the solution.

Three things struck me about the story. The first, obviously, was the monstrosity of the crime. The second was the sentence. Fifty years ago, in a less equivocal age, the sentence would have been death, most likely commuted to life in prison. In the European culture of our own, more enlightened, day, the sentence for the brutal, premeditated and cold-blooded murder of a defenseless and innocent three-year-old child was a mere seventeen years — possibly ten with good behavior. 

The third thing that struck me was the fact that the story was more or less buried on page 12, together with a piece about a local farmer who was being investigated for the state of neglect in which one of his horses found itself.   

In May of this year, Irish voters will again go to the polls to decide upon the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution. The amendment recognizes that an unborn infant has the right to live, and it effectively renders abortion, which was already illegal in all thirty-two counties, unconstitutional in the Republic of Ireland. The amendment, which was approved by a two-to-one vote in the plebiscite of 1983, is almost certain to be repealed. Legislation to liberalize abortion will follow quickly. We will hear the whole thing described as a leap forward for gender equality and women’s reproductive health, and so on and so forth. The repeal, the ensuing legislation, and the resulting brutal termination of the lives of Irish children in the womb will be put down to a long-overdue decline of the influence of the Catholic Church in Irish society. In short, it will be seen as a mark of the progress we have made out of the bondage of religion and into the freedom of, well, who knows what. 

In fact, the real progress we have made is from a society in which sacrifice and self-disregard were esteemed as virtue to a society in which the easy way out, always the short road to Hell, is held up as a “personal choice.”  It is, in short, the progress from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. It would seem that, for now at least, the children of this world are wiser than the children of the light.

There is a bit more to the story of the killing in Málaga. In addition to the seventeen-year prison term, the killer was ordered to pay compensation of Euro 300,000 to the parents of the murdered child. The reader may calculate for himself the rate of inflation on the price of innocent blood. The reader may also spend this Holy Week in prayer and penitence for our faithless culture. The innocent blood is upon all of us and, unless we do something about it, upon our children.