I want first to thank you all for your prayers! Dr. Brian Clowes and I have met up with HLI’s Anglophone Africa director Emil Hagamu and HLI Kenya Director Father Raphael Wanjohi in Nairobi. As usual, we hit the ground running, and have encamped in Karen just outside Nairobi, where we are staying with the Little Daughters of Saint Joseph. We’ve already begun our training meetings with priests and lay pro-life leaders, many of whom are part of Father Wanjohi’s extensive network of medical and business professional around Kenya. It’s an impressive group, to be sure.
After a week here we stop in Paris for a few days to join the Parish March for Life and events around it. A nation that many have written off as dying has shown some interesting signs of life in the last few years, from truly massive public demonstrations for natural marriage to a surprisingly competitive presidential candidacy from a faithful Catholic. We hope to better understand the various dynamics in France after our visit, but many are encouraged by what they are seeing.
Speaking of Marches for Life, I hope everyone who reads this participates in your local March for Life, or in the DC March if you are anywhere near the nation’s capital. I firmly believe it is extremely important that we show up in numbers that demand attention, even if the media is committed to ignoring this particular demand.
I am often asked why such events are important, especially since I’m often with our affiliates around the world who are launching them and media and others don’t necessarily understand. I generally have three answers that I give.
First, we human persons are built for community. God designed us to be born into the most natural and fundamental human community, the family. The more we abandon this natural gift, the worse our society frays, and the more we have to seek government and not God to save us from the natural consequences of our own decisions. Yet this same need for community permeates everything we do, from how we form friendships, to local social groups, businesses, and other associations. Paraphrasing a recent political slogan, we are truly better together—to the extent that what unites is true, good and beautiful.
The pro-life movement is an amazingly diverse hodgepodge of very human folks who are united for a very good, true, and beautiful thing—the defense of all innocent human life from its beginning to its end. This does not mean that everything coming from the movement is good, as we are all still human and we have many different ideas about priorities and ways to proceed. But the fundamental principles must be affirmed, and a primary way to do this is to show up, greet and encourage one another, and let your voice be heard.
Second, proponents of the Culture of Death make progress largely because those who love life and family are isolated and disorganized—busy with real life instead of vigilance and activism. Roe v. Wade happened because the other side patiently and persistently over decades filled universities, media outlets, courts, and other institutions with truly destructive ideas that were allowed to stand because so many never thought something like Roe v. Wade could happen. By the time a young mother from Texas was duped by cynical, activist, pro-abortion attorneys into consenting to a court case for an abortion she never had, the activists knew they had their pieces in place in courts and media for a truly radical and destructive move, and that democracy wouldn’t stop them.
Few saw in advance what was going on. Few were vigilant. And today, as every week brings a fresh new slice of hell—from gender fluidity to “post-birth abortion” to the redefinition of marriage—into the realm of legislation or mere cultural acceptance, many seem again to not be paying attention.
Or are they? The word from the pro-life DC crowd is that the appointments for the new administration bode very well for our movement. Something is stirring that is hard to define, but it is certainly against the “abortion is a human right” elites and those of the opposing party who are indifferent. Regardless, it does appear that more people are becoming vigilant, and more people realize that even if they aren’t Winston Churchill or John Paul II, their voice deserves to be heard.
It is absolutely true that before activism must come education, and before that, worship. Activism without understanding is shallow emotivism—as likely to go one way as the other. That is why HLI’s mission remains fundamentally educational, based both in the Scriptural, social and moral doctrine of the Catholic Church and in reason. But, especially in these days of the rapid advance of the Culture of Death, this education must lead to action, and clear thinking must inform our arguments.
Third, we just have to show them that we’re not afraid. Whatever hope people have in the possibilities of the Trump administration and thin pro-life majorities in the legislature, we have so much to do to hold them accountable and set a firm footing for the future. Truly, so much has been lost both in law and in culture. So many in our nation are simply lost, having no idea why they believe what they believe and make the choices they make. We need to proclaim the fullness of God’s love and truth, and we deserve to do this without persecution. So many Christians, seeing the collapse of religious freedom that has followed the collapse of religious faith, are afraid to speak up. And not without reason: you can now lose your job, your business, and your reputations simply for defending life and family with positions that were not controversial even ten years ago.
Still, we need to speak up. We can’t be afraid, or at least we can’t let our fear stop us. God can do incredible things with a person who defies her own fear and acts with a courage she didn’t know she had. This is how we all gain virtue, by offering our shortcomings to God and asking for Him to transform us.
Abortion will be outlawed in the US and around the world. There is no doubt. When the world wakes up from its stupor and realizes the evil it let occur, do you want to be counted among those who opposed it even at some personal risk, or among those who kept silent? How does history look at those who let slavery occur without protest? And this is only the historical view. The more important view is the eternal view: How will you explain your action, or lack thereof, to the only Judge who ultimately matters?
To those who look at the March from their couches and roll their eyes saying “Marches alone are a waste of time. They don’t change anything.” I say you’re wrong. If we only marched and then did not change our lives, it would indeed be mere sound and fury, signifying nothing. But if several hundred thousand people joyfully defying a corrupt government and culture can be a beginning of relationships, of zeal, of awareness, of the many things a person needs to get involved, then it is indeed a very good and necessary thing.
Make your March for Life that beginning. Show up. If you can’t for whatever reason, make January 27th a day of prayer of reparation and in solidarity with the many, many victims of the Culture of Death, and the many who stand opposed. Do whatever you can, wherever you are, to defend life and family.
Abortion will be defeated, as will all unjust assaults on life at the beginning and end of life. Don’t be afraid to act now.