Love is at the source of Catholic pro-life position
As Catholics, we are called to be unapologetically pro-life. Throughout the history of the church, there has been an undeniable identity with the one who has no voice: the poor, the vulnerable, the disabled. All too frequently in the last two millennia, the church was the only voice that spoke out for the dignity of people who were all too often ignored by the wider culture.
We are able to look back and see the establishment of hospitals and ‘poor houses’ as ways that our ancestors in the faith reached out to their brothers and sisters in need at the time. In fact, a hidden consequence of Henry VIII’s suppression of religious orders during the English Reformation was that the poor of England no longer had a safe place to be. Many of them ended up wandering the streets of London because they had no place to go. This helps to explain the plight of the poor that features in several of the novels of Charles Dickens, which are set shortly after this time.
As we have just come through the Advent season and heard so many of the wonderful readings from Isaiah reflecting on the blind regaining sight, the deaf hearing, the lame walking; Isaiah presents the images of what will take place upon the Messiah’s coming. With His advent, the effects of sin will slowly start to be washed away and the original plan of God’s design will start to be rebuilt.
Looking around at our society, there are still so many aspects of the visions of Isaiah that need to yet be fulfilled, but one aspect that cries out the greatest for a response from those who follow in Christ’s footsteps is the voice of the countless millions who are silenced before they even have a chance at their first breath: children terminated in the womb, and the mothers who often feel that they have no other ‘choice’ but this.
The response as to how to end the scourge of abortion in this country needs to be multifaceted, as the response to the needs of society is always complex. The bed rock in our reply needs to be a focus on the greater dignity and beauty of human sexuality, upholding the dignity of each person and withstanding out culture’s slide into a greater and greater decadence, especially in this area. Also, the economic factors that often lead a mother into this choice need to be addressed, for the stories I hear often include that she truly felt that there was no other “choice” that she could make.
Several of my friends have gone through the adoption process, and as I walked with them (either closely or from some distance) through that process, I was amazed at how complicated the procedure was, often at expense of the children they were trying to help! Does it need to be so?
However, all of these responses so far are external and through the political process. While Catholics are obliged to be engaged in that process, it is not what ultimately saves us. Rather, we must be motivated by Love.
Basking in the glow of the Christmas Season, it was the love of the Father that brought His Son to us for our salvation. It was the love the Savior that led Christ to give of himself completely on the cross so that the power of sin and death might be destroyed. It is the love of the Spirit who has driven countless saints before us to take on the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we move into a new year, as we reflect more deeply on the witness and example of Pope Francis; we must also take up the call to love the most vulnerable amongst us: the child in the womb and the mother who carries this child.
Only through this outreach of love, one person to one person, will the demand and need for such a horrendous thing as abortion slowly be eased, and the hearts of those turned away from Christ will be thawed.
Whenever one person contemplates that ‘choice,’ we as a society have failed. Let us all give voice to those who have no voice among us: the child and the mother.
Father Kyle Schnippel is the archdiocesan vocation director. This installment of The Catholic Moment originally appeared in the January 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.