Be Courageous in the Face of Violence
Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ. ─ Pope St. John Paul II
A few days ago, a young man was arrested outside the home of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. At the time of his arrest, Nicholas John Roske was carrying a gun, ammunition, a knife, pepper spray, a screwdriver, and zip ties. Roske told police that he intended to kill Kavanaugh, in part because of his anger at the leaked Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
It seems that Roske is mentally disturbed. After arriving in front of Kavanaugh’s house, he encountered U.S. marshals, after which he called 911 and gave himself up, claiming that he was having suicidal thoughts. However, this disturbing event, which could well have ended with an attempt on the life of a Supreme Court Justice, is simply the starkest example of a recent rise in violent rhetoric and actions coming from abortion supporters angered at the possible imminent demise of Roe v. Wade.
The U.S. Department of Defense is warning of an increase in “extremist” violence in the next few months, partly in response to an impending decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. So is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which warned in an unclassified memo obtained by Axios that threats against Supreme Court Justices, lawmakers, clergy, and healthcare workers, “are likely to persist and may increase leading up to and following the issuing of the Court’s official ruling.”
Pro-life activists are also warning of the same. A couple of weeks ago, Fox News published an op-ed titled, “How to survive the abortion industry’s ‘summer of rage.’” “Accounts of violence from abortion supporters directed at pro-lifers are legion,” wrote Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, “with a heavy share of them taking place recently as tensions rise with the impending likely reversal of Roe v. Wade.’”
Indeed, there is no shortage of examples of pro-aborts making good on their threats. A few weeks ago someone threw a molotov cocktail through the window of the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, a pro-life organization. “If abortions aren’t safe, then neither are you,” said a message scrawled on the side of the building. Another phone message was from a man singing “Burn, little Jesus freaks, burn, burn, burn!”
A pro-abortion group named “Jane’s Revenge” has claimed responsibility for the attack and has threatened further violence. A few days ago, the group followed through on their threat, claiming responsibility for another firebombing, this time on a pro-life pregnancy center in Buffalo, New York.
Both attacks did a significant amount of damage to the two buildings, with the Buffalo attack being particularly devastating. Photos of the Buffalo center show the entire interior charred black, with the words “Jane was here” scrawled in graffiti on an exterior wall.
“Because of this act of violence, the needs of women facing unplanned pregnancy will go unmet and babies will die,” said Jim Harden, the CEO of CompassCare, which runs the Buffalo pregnancy center. However, he vowed that “CompassCare will rebuild because women deserve better. CompassCare will not stop serving because pre-born boys and girls deserve protection.”
Jane’s Revenge also claimed responsibility for another attack on a pregnancy center, in which red paint was thrown on the door of a crisis pregnancy center in Washington, D.C.
A Double Standard
In recent weeks, the left and pro-abortion lobby have been tirelessly working to incite fear, to intimidate Catholics, the pro-life movement, and anyone who opposes abortion to abandon our cause.
The very fact of the leak of the draft SCOTUS decision was an astonishing violation of the secrecy of the Court, a secrecy that is designed to protect the integrity of the decision process, ensuring that the Justices are not unduly influenced by outside forces. No doubt the person who leaked the decision was hoping that the heat of the backlash might pressure one or more of the Justices to change their vote.
We should not be surprised by such actions. The left and progressive camps have used fear-mongering, deception, and violence as their “persuasive” tactics for decades. They know full well that the liberal media and government, as well as the abortion industry, will support them and do very little to denounce their acts of terrorism.
Imagine if our side acted in the same way. Past, isolated acts of violence by anti-abortion activists have received wall-to-wall coverage in the mainstream media, painting every opponent of abortion as a violent extremist. When pro-abortion forces use violence or insults, however, the media either looks the other way or makes excuses. There is such hypocrisy in our government and media!
The response of defenders of the unborn is simple: The truth does not change, no matter how much anger, hatred, and violence is directed our way. We cannot falter from our cause. We must not cower before such schemes and cowardly actions. Christians have encountered such tactics in the 2,000 years since Our Lord’s death and Resurrection. The Church is built on the blood of its martyrs who have given witness to Truth in every age.
Catholics are guided by faith, and our faith clearly teaches that abortion is a serious evil that must be stopped. Catholics cannot support abortion for any reason. Never. Abortion is always evil, in every circumstance, and cannot be tolerated.
Unborn children are human beings who have the same intrinsic value you and I possess; they are as much human as a child that is delivered and one hour old. We should, therefore, treat the unborn like we treat the child that has been delivered and is one hour old. A child is never to be treated as unwanted.
Moreover, we must provide greater assistance to mothers in need. No mother should ever feel that abortion is the answer to her dilemma. This task will become all the more urgent should Roe v. Wade be overturned, at which point abortion will become illegal in many states. Those women who might otherwise have chosen abortion must not face the difficulties of bringing new life into the world alone.
We must stand beside such women, with them, holding them in our arms, encouraging them, and providing for their practical, spiritual, and psychological needs. We must show the world that a Culture of Life doesn’t mean only a culture in which abortion is illegal, but a culture in which family, neighbors, friends, and the wider community carry mothers and their unborn children on their shoulders, so that no woman has to bear the challenges of motherhood alone.
Our response, too, should be to unwaveringly seek the prosecution of anyone that causes physical harm to the property or persons of pro-life groups or individuals, or engages in the unlawful disruption of any religious services. We demand that President Joe Biden and all federal leaders publicly condemn such actions. This is domestic violence, acts of terrorism. Our nation was built on freedom of speech and religious freedom. Such violent behavior is unacceptable and must be condemned.
We Are in a Battle
As I have discussed in the past, we are engaged in a real battle. Catholics, Christians, Jews, and all people of good will who stand united in this noble cause for Life must realize what is required to transform hearts and minds from the evil that has so engulfed our nation and world. We must stand together in opposition to the plotted harassment and not let fear deter us from protecting human life.
While some in the Church and society will attempt to persuade us to be more conciliatory, we must reject such suggestions. Freedom without truth is meaningless. Such methods have cost the lives of millions of unborn children and untold suffering for women, families, and society.
In his book, The Day is Now Far Spent, Robert Cardinal Sarah offers an unflinching diagnosis of the current dilemma, saying “Western civilization is going through a lethal crisis,” adding that “it has reached the limits of self-destructive hatred.”
His Eminence continues his critical assessment, stating that,
At the root of the collapse of the West, there is a cultural identity crisis. The West no longer knows who it is, because it no longer knows and does not want to know who made it, who established it, as it was and as it is. Many countries today ignore their own history. This self-suffocation naturally leads to a decadence that opens the path to new, barbaric civilizations.
For many of our contemporaries, happiness comes from mere consumption and from an absolute freedom that nothing hampers in its expression, with each person following his own desires, inclinations, and appetites. This materialist enjoyment is an agony. True freedom lies in the battle to agree with the Father’s will and to correspond to it.
Abortion is a manifestation of this lethal crisis, of this “self-destructive hatred.” In abortion, the mother – whose love for her child ought to exceed that of any other – contracts a “health care provider” – whose hands ought to be used to heal – to take the life of the child growing in her womb. Abortion turns the world upside down. It transforms love into hate, healing into violence, creativity into destruction. And now, it seems, certain extreme pro-abortion activists are turning to further violence, motivated by hatred, to undermine our democratic system in order to protect the legal killing of the unborn child.
It is, as Cardinal Sarah puts it, up to the Church to preserve “what is most human in man,” for “she is the guardian of civilization.” It is up to Christians to stand up for the truth, no matter what slings and arrows our political and moral opponents send our way. If we do so, there will be a host of children who will live thanks to our efforts, and whose lives will testify on our behalf when our turn comes to stand before the Lord in judgment.
At this critical junction, let us remember:
[Jesus] said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ … Simon Peter said in reply, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ … [Jesus says], ‘Simon son of Jonah…you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:15-18)
[Though] there is great turmoil at this time in the world and in the Church and what is in dispute is the faith…and it may happen tomorrow that this non-Catholic thought will become the strongest within Catholicism [and world]. But it will never represent the mind of the Church. A tiny little flock has to continue in existence, however small it may be. (Cardinal Sarah, The Power of Silence)
Jesus promises that the gates of Hell will never overcome the Church; she will always prevail. Though sometimes driven underground by persecution and sometimes fewer in number, throughout the ages the Church has endured; she has always persevered, holding fast with great confidence and assurance to the words of her Master, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Therefore, Be Not Afraid. “Christians are born for combat, whereof the greater the vehemence, the more assured, God aiding, the triumph” (Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, no. 14).
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Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.