Marching for a clear, firm and passionate defense of ALL human life
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Being pro-life is one of the deepest expressions of our baptism: we stand up as sons and daughters of the light, clothed in humility and charity, filled with conviction, speaking the truth to power with firmness, conviction and determination, and never losing joy and hope. Being Pro-Life is not an activity for a political party or a particular side of the spectrum. It is an obligation for everyone: left, right and centre! If we are Pro-Life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it. We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us. To March for Life in Ottawa, Washington and in many other cities of the world means that we stand up for all human life, and we do not have a myopic view of the cause of life. Being pro-life in this day and age is truly prophetic, and it will bring about authentic development and enduring peace in our world.
The burning issues of the promotion of human life, from conception to natural death, must be high on the agenda of every human being on every side of the political spectrum. They are not only the concern of the far right of the political spectrum. Many people, blinded by their own zeal and goodness, have ended up defeating the very cause for which we must all defend with every ounce of energy in our flesh and bones. What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings.
Today we live in the midst of a culture that denies human solidarity and takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents that encourage an idea of society exclusively concerned with efficiency. It is a war of the powerful against the weak. There is no room in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure or anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them and can only communicate through the silent language of profound sharing of affection. Human life has a sacred and religious value, but in no way is that value a concern only of believers. There is no question that abortion is the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture, by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. But immigration issues are also critical pro-life issues in our day. The lives of 800,000 Dreamers in America are pro-life issues. The separation of families at US borders is a pro-life issue. Wrongful incarceration of thousands of young people in holding facilities along the southern US border with Mexico is a pro-life issue. Care of the environment is also a critical pro-life issue for the world.
In Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (On the Call to Holiness),” he challenges each of us who consider ourselves to be “Pro-Life.” He speaks of dangerous ideologies which may at times misguide us in our efforts to march for life (#101):
“The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.”
In the coming days, tens of thousands of people – many of them young men and women – will descend upon Ottawa to March for Life on May 10, 2018. Let us never forget to reflect upon what we do as individuals and as a community as we stand up for life – ALL human life. Building a culture of life and ending abortion is the duty and obligation of each and every person. But the litmus test for being pro-life is not only attending rallies or marches during the year in major cities of the world. The real test is what we do for life in the remaining 364 days of the year, and what efforts, great and small, do we embrace to consistently and systematically oppose any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, violations of human dignity, and coercion of the will. How do we advocate for those who endure subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, human trafficking and disgraceful working conditions, and wrongful, unjust immigration policies? All of these things and more poison human society. We must strive for a strong, consistent ethic for life.
Our common home has become a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. During his brief pastoral visit to Sweden in October 2016, Pope Francis proposed six new beatitudes for the modern era on the Feast of All Saints:
"Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart;
"Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness;
"Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him;
"Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home;
"Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others;
"Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians."
May these powerful words of Pope Francis be a guiding light and source of instruction, inspiration, consolation and hope to the people of our country as we march for life and defend human life – from conception to natural death – from womb to tomb. May the beatitudes compel us to move forward with boldness and courage, as we welcome, love and protect the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable among us.