Monday, October 3, 2016

What if Catholics "Took a Knee" to Defend Life?

USCCB's 2016 Respect Life Program

Abortion is sucking the life out of our country.  Everyone knows it--even those who try to act like it empowers women.

Of course, abortion literally sucks new life out of the womb, but it also sucks the power to protect and defend the innocent from vulnerable mothers in need of support.  Abortion also sucks murder off the streets and into the medical marketplace, as doctors become agents of death rather than life--in many cases with the support of governmental tax dollars.

Each year the Catholic Church devotes the Marian month of October to the theme of respect for human life, and the abortion issue again threatens to suck the life out of a politically divided body of Catholics in the U.S.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with countless individual Bishops and courageous priests, will again devote considerable energy trying to help Catholics confront the uniquely sinister reality of abortion in our country and around the world.

But this "original violence" is no mere political issue about which people can simply agree to disagree; it will continue to haunt us as a nation, unless and until it is uprooted.

The respect life message is simple: Love is what all human beings desire, and the rules of Love clearly call us to stand with and for Life.  If we traffic in death, we forfeit the right to tell anyone else that they cannot kill.

What if Catholics actually dared to defend life?  What if we got on our knees publicly and prayed in reparation for the ways that we have been complicit with the abortion industry?  What if we apologized for helping perpetuate the myth that contraception will solve the abortion problem--for abandoning couples who have seen contraception fail and for leaving them feeling trapped in an "unwanted pregnancy"?  What if we asked for mercy for not doing more to help?

If we "took a knee" in this way, we could stand without hypocrisy beside all people who are outraged by senseless violence.  We could create a society united around the self-evident truth of the inherent value of the human person.

Though it may be a politically expedient or socially convenient position, it is a seductive lie to claim that Catholics can be "pro-choice." Whether they confusedly think that "being personally opposed but publicly supportive" of abortion rights is somehow reasonable, or whether they mistakenly believe that the Church's social teaching justifies using evil means to achieve good ends, the truth must continue to be professed with love.

When truth confronts power, suffering will follow (as one of my brothers recently put it).  If Catholics helped friends and neighbors understand the beauty of Jesus' revelation about the human person, if they worked to de-fund Planned Parenthood and demanded Supreme Court justices who would reverse the Dred Scott-decisions of our day, if they pushed back on "physician assisted suicide," and stopped defending state sponsored executions via injections or electric chairs or drones, then we would certainly suffer many consequences from the powers that be.

However, this would be exactly the "taking up of the cross" which Jesus expects of his followers.  This is the only alternative to complicity with evil.  No more compromises with evil, no more bartering for improved social status, no more acting like we can dialogue with the devil: just non-violent resistance to crimes against humanity.

Love never sucks.  Indeed, Love is able to "write straight with crooked lines," but it demands that we work together to end abortion before it eviscerates our nation and our world.