Men and Women United for Life
5 December 2011
1. In my family, being pro-life and
appreciating the beauty and dignity of every human person is second
nature. I grew up in a solidly Catholic
family and in small towns, so as a child and young adult I never faced the culture
of death head-on.
When I left home for the first
time, having turned eighteen just four days prior, I was entering seminary at
the Josephinum in Columbus. It was
August 25th, 1999. I had
graduated high school in the spring and, after two visits to the seminary and
many hours of prayer and conversation with priests, made up my mind to trust
God and give discernment of a vocation to the priesthood a serious
Within a few weeks, in that first
Fall, I was approached by some of the older men from Columbus and Wichita
diocese, who invited me into their circle of established pro-life
activities. I went along with a group of
15 or so seminarians and priests on many Saturdays – warm or cold, rain or
shine – to pray the Rosary outside of the abortion clinic on High Street. When I was assigned to Saint Vincent
Seminary, I continued prayerful witness at the clinic in Pittsburgh. Six of my eight years in seminary I travelled
to Washington, DC, for the March for Life, sleeping on the floor at Theological
College in DC and walking in procession at the Vigil Mass in the National
Shrine. With my brother seminarians, I
was part of seminary social concerns committees and March for Life pilgrimage
planning. It was such an exciting
opportunity and honor to be part of this apostolate in defense of the
It was a personal invitation by
other men discerning their call to the altar along with me that brought me into
the pro-life work of the Church. Since
1999, I have been able to attend the March for Life 10 times and pray in front
of abortion clinics in three different cities.
As a parish priest, I was delighted to support devout parishioners in
forming a pro-life committee, which completed phenomenal, literally
award-winning, work on behalf of the innocent and voiceless among us.
Because God does not let me sit
still for long, nor keep a great distance from the pro-life movement, in my
assignment as catechist at Warren JFK Catholic School, we have introduced
pro-life speakers, field trips and lessons into the curriculum. The Pro-Life Youth Congress honored me by
asking me to be their chaplain two years ago and the young people across the
country who are members of the PLYC chapters are my hope for the future of our
world. I have seen lives transformed,
babies saved, and men and women united in the cause of life. I have made friends and been blessed to lead
others in the pro-life movement myself.
God has blessed me abundantly indeed!
2. In my ten pilgrimages to DC for
the March for Life, I have concluded that, in spite of scandal and a general
decline in religious participation in the U.S. and Western Europe, the Catholic
Church remains a powerful force for good in our world. Hundreds of parishes, K of C councils,
schools and diocese come together for this epic battle against the culture of
death. The seminarians alone are
numerous enough to be extras in a Cecil B. DeMille film! The annual Vigil Mass tests the fire code and
organizational abilities of the Basilica staff, and the bishops’ homilies
proclaim without hesitation that God’s holy Church is unequivocally pro-life!
My experience has also showed me
that the pro-life fever displayed by the largest crowds that assemble in our
nation’s capital, and yet the most peaceful and joyful, extends beyond the
boundaries of the Church. There are
Anglicans for Life and Lutherans for Life and, one of my favorite Rally for
Life speakers, the Jewish Rabbis from New York, whose zeal are unparalleled on
the face of the earth.
Even outside of organized religion,
an understanding of the dignity present within each unborn child is found among
the Atheists for Life – a group that shows that being pro-life is so
fundamental it is possible without recognizing the existence of God.
3. The March for Life exemplifies
an inter-generational, cross-creedal consensus among Americans that life is
valuable and the protection of innocent life should be enshrined in law. Statistics and anecdotes from across the
fruited plain indicate that this consensus runs deeper and broader than we might
imagine. Human persons recognize, even
if incompletely, the evil of the murder of the innocent unborn.
I would even be so bold as to say
that being pro-life is intrinsically human.
To be created by God in His own divine image means that we are called to
self-giving love, in the image of God who shares His life in the splendor of
creation and gives His life for the salvation of the world. The human vocation to love necessarily
includes the love for the life and soul of every human person: we are made to
build up and not tear down the life of another human person. The Fifth Commandment and the wisdom of God’s
Word manifest this fundamental truth. To
kill is to forget and wound the very core of humanity within us. We want to see people built up: out of
poverty, holding down a good job, supporting a family and living in peace. There is something inherently wrong in
wishing a worse condition or death on another.
It is innately human to desire life and prosperity for our fellow man
and woman. To support the culture of
death means one has lost sight of one’s true human vocation to love.
Since Adam and Eve put themselves
before the law of God, there has always been, because of the influence of
worldly desires and the Evil One, violence against life. Yet, never before 1973 has a civilization so
advanced and prosperous as ours supported with its laws the death of the unborn
child. We are dealing with something
uniquely evil today.
4. It must be remembered that the cornucopia
of pro-life issues extends beyond the most numerous and heinous attacks against
life through abortion to include violation of the unborn child through ESCR,
termination of the lives of the elderly and infirm through euthanasia, unnecessary
implementation of capital punishment and execution of criminals, and the need
to work for justice in order to overcome poverty conditions for those less
fortunate than ourselves. Life from
conception to natural death demands our attention and our constant prayerful
and courageous witness.
At the top of the hierarchy of
values from the Christian perspective are intrinsically evil acts – those
actions which are morally wrong in every case regardless of the circumstances
in which they occur. In terms of life,
they are ESCR, euthanasia and abortion. These
can never be supported and must always be opposed.
5. For the moment, let us direct
our attention to the unborn child. Why
is it that 400,000 people of every race, creed and age – particularly tens of
thousands of young people – gather every January in the DC metro tundra to say
“No, thank you” to Roe v. Wade? And what
is our role in the pro-life movement?
How do we understand how our call to defend life intersects with the
reality of the prominent issues and sentiments of our day?
The March for Life displays a
deeply human truth: that life is precious and we are called to join together
and fend off attacks against the lives of our brothers and sisters. That truth is accepted by Americans from sea
to shining sea.
Carl Anderson highlights the quiet consensus on moral issues in America
in his book “Beyond a House Divided.”
Polls conducted by the K of C and
the Marist Institute for Public Opinion reveal a strong consensus among
Americans on moral issues: marriage and family, life and the role of morality
and ethics in public policy and the workplace.
Specifically, polls reveal that 8
out of 10 Americans favor restrictions that would limit abortion in our
country. I used to fear that the people
to whom I am called to minister were hopelessly divided and floundering on life
issues. I always desperately wanted to
believe that people deep down love life and are trapped in a cultural cyclone
against their deepest human desires – and now the polls show that is true!
79% of Americans would prefer
restrictions on abortion that would limit its practice far more than the laws
in effect today. Only 13% believe it
should be available to women at any time for any reason.
By a three to one ratio, Americans
believe that abortion should be limited to select circumstances – rape, incest
and to protect the mother’s life. And by
a difference of 82% to 76% women favor limiting abortion more than men. The maternal instinct that is part of the
beauty of womanhood demands that violation of the womb and the child be at
Young people are increasingly pro-life
and, as they see their peers affected by abortion, the reality of its
destructive affects forms their opinions.
By a two to one margin, Americans believe abortion does not make a
woman’s life better but does more harm than good.
Stats locally show 70 % of people
in Mahoning valley are fundamentally pro-life.
Having been given the opportunity of
abortion on demand, Americans are seeing its wake of destruction and more and
more turning to better solutions to help women make better choices for themselves
and turn back the tide of bloodshed.
The experience of medical pregnancy clinics across the country attests to
the love for life deep in the hearts of mothers in crisis.
The medical community testifies
that life begins at conception. The
joining of egg and sperm and implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus
begins a miraculous process of development that, unless acted on by evil
forces, ends in a new human life.
Science displays the reality of
life. The miracle of the ultrasound
technology allows us to see the baby developing in the womb – fingers, toes,
heartbeat, reactions to pain inflicted on him or her, and all the awe-inspiring
occurrences in the sanctuary of the womb that only God can fully grasp.
Women who see their baby on the
ultrasound overwhelmingly choose life!
“abortion minded” 50 %
“abortion vulnerable” 80 %
Where the abortion industry and the
media want women to believe when is growing inside them is “just tissue” and
“not viable,” when a well-trained sonographer shows a woman her child, she is drawn
to love him or her. And I personally
believe that loving one’s child is so fundamental to a mother that the
remaining 20% would choose life but are like oppressed by other circumstances.
Story – mother at 9 weeks and heartbeat on ultrasound
40 Days for Life: conversions, 61 clinic
workers – exhausted with keeping up the façade of abortion and pretending that
it’s good for women despite what they see first-hand every day.
Story: JFK Students transformed by one
visit to Bella and one day of talks by MWUFL...
life. See what you did in 2 days!
Story of girl who experienced
conversion: “I’m pro-life now!”
I see so much that gives me
hope! Young people, Bethesda healing
ministry, Bella, priests, MWUFL
My message to you is one of hope
and encouragement. The human desire and
the consensus of public opinion love for life!
6. I believe that human persons
naturally want to be fundamentally and unequivocally want to be pro-life but are
overcome in their decision-making by difficult circumstances and the attack of
the anti-life industry, which seeks only money and power.
So many women, while the phrase
pro-choice is used, face a situation that is not a free choice at all.
In the face of controlling spouses
and family, poverty and various struggles, they are desperate for help.
Elected representatives do not carry
out their work based on what people really need. They do not truly represent the values
expressed by Americans.
Mexico City Policy
Attacks on conscience clauses
Laws and judges
Anderson also points out in his
book the faulty constitutional law arguments on which Roe v. Wade is
Media obscures the reality of
abortion…coverage of MFL inaccurate…
They report “tens of thousands” of
anti-abortion protestors gathered in Washington, and find three pro-choice
people with signs in order to juxtapose the two and claim “both sides” are
represented. It’s worse than P. T.
The pro-abortion agenda depends on
a series of lies – about what is good for women, when a baby is a person, what
people want and need, what is a good law for our country, that the sick and
elderly have no value, that revenge is the answer to crime, that abortion is a
viable solution to a young woman’s problems.
These lies do not in any way
represent the reality of what the culture of death does to people nor do they
resonate with what human persons really desire!
7. What is our mission, then?
Is it legislative – overturning
laws? Or educational – sharing
information about the development of the child in the womb and the fallout of
the culture of death for women and families?
Or evangelical – preaching to the ignorant and convincing others that
taking innocent life is evil? Or
boycotting media outlets and corporations that support the culture of death?
Where do we fit in to a country
that longs to be pro-life but faces enormous obstacles from government,
politicians, the media and liberal intellectuals?
Who is our enemy? The mothers, the absent fathers, the doctors,
the politicians, the judges, the media?
“The last enemy to be defeated is
“Death, where is your victory?”
Ultimately, our enemy is death and
Christ has won the victory. With Him, we
have the power to overcome the death of the innocent by revealing to others the
truth about life to everyone we meet.
There are instances that call for
There are elections that demand
efforts to oust destructive candidates and office-holders.
There are appropriate times for teaching
There are always valuable moments
of counseling and prayer is irreplaceable.
In every one of our efforts to defend the innocent and vulnerable, we
have the opportunity to tap into the human person’s intrinsic nature and
natural instinct: to love life! We can
remind others of who they are and of the truth about life’s dignity that lies
deep within us all, despite the efforts of the media and government to obscure
Counseling moms, witnessing – no negativity,
Pastors and teachers – positive,
Sonographer has the
blessed opportunity, with the ultrasound technology, to speak the truth to
women, open their eyes to the truth of life…like the story I shared earlier…
Friends, family, classmates,
coworkers…can show women in need that there are other options and say with
words and actions “Let me help you love your baby.”
Top 3 most valuable:
teaching young people that there are other options, the development of the
baby; being there to offer another way out for pregnant moms; being a positive
influence on the faith and values of every young person in your life – so they
never need to consider abortion, so we change their hearts…
Regarding other attacks
against life…what is the reason they exist?
revenge, justice, closure…
ESCR: selfish desire
to find a cure at the expense of another life…
Gently teach people
the truth of human person – to love, not seek revenge, lay down one’s life,
seek not own interests first…be a living example of love!
Anger we see in those
who have embraced culture of death and refuse even to dialogue is from the Evil
One. “Some of these can only be overcome
by fasting and prayer.”
Pro-life work is about
identifying and exploring the deepest human realities in those who do not, for
whatever reason, see the truth that lies within their own self.
Our constant internal
question should be: what is clouding the child of God in front of me from
seeing who they really are and the truth that lies within them?
We speak the truth in
love, in a way that is accommodated to their needs.
Pray every day and ask
God to open and change the hearts of all, and make us better instruments of His
truth and love, so we can help all people to see the truth that lies within
them and embrace it, despite the obstacles that stand in the way, and so build
up a culture of life.