Why I Do Not Support the (so-called) March for Life

This reflection is now available in Daniel P. Horan, OFM’s book Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century: Selected Reflections from the Dating God Blog and Other Essays, Volume One (Koinonia Press, 2013).

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140 Responses to “Why I Do Not Support the (so-called) March for Life”

  1. dudley sharp Says:

    Dear Br. Dan:

    I understand your concerns, but they are misplaced and lack charity.

    As you know, in Church teachings, as others’,

    1) no one can or should argue that pro-life and anti-abortion are anything but very complemenarty concepts and pursuits;

    2) any collection of the faithful, be it in Church, nunnery, monastary, march, etc, regardless of the mixture of class, ethnicity, race, age,sex, nationality, etc., should be celebrated, particulalry when gathered in prayer, which it will be, in pursuit of an important goal of the Church, which it will be;

    3) All of mankind’s efforts are imperfect and always will be. Any of the faithful can be critical of any of man’s efforts as imperfect. That is not a reason to reject positive efforts, but is a reason to join them and to help make them better. You described every available negative, in an effort not to support this effort, but failed to see every avaiable positive and chose one over the other, simply a choice in one man’s free will;

    4) The state of man is sin, but nonetheless, Jesus joined all of us in a march for our salvation. He joined us and in so doing, changed and saved us. Our imperfection and deliverance from it, was the reason He joined us.

    Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger)

    “stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows”: “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

    “More Concerned with ‘Comfort’ than Christ?”, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: Catholic Online, 7/11/2004 http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php NOTE: Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and delivered this with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Dudley, for me, your comments actually support Dan’s position. I disagree vigorously with Benedict’s comments. I cannot imagine Jesus being enraged over a woman aborting a fetus and feeling that was much more morally and ethically loathsome than killing other human beings, slaughtering them by the thousands. I don’t get it, Dudley.

      • Leonard Nugent Says:

        Jesus would not be enraged over a woman aborting a fetus. He would be sad and also ready to forgive her. This is one of the many reasons he came to die for us and one of the reasons that he said…It’s my body….which is given up for you.

      • Bain Wellington Says:

        Not so much of the “Benedict’s comments”, please. He was not voicing a personal opinion. In stating what he did, when Prefect of the CDF, he was stating the teaching of the Church. What, may I ask, do you disagree with in his reported remarks? I break up his quoted remarks and number them for convenience.

        [1] Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia.
        [2] If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion.
        [3] While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment.
        [4] There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

        With which of these statements do you “disagree violently”?

  2. Matthew M Says:

    While a very well written piece, and I find myself challenged or at least in some agreement with the last reflection/point; however, I would have unfortunately and perhaps regrettably gotten up and left this homily. As one challenges those of us “so-called” pro-lifers, (the “so-called” I do find offensive), I do believe that perhaps, taking a less antagonistic approach, one could educate or pastorally guide more effectively.
    And as with ALL generalizations, there is some degree of error. So, does one therefore declare the Missionaries of Charity misguided, or the Sisters of Life, Sisters of Mercy, Little Sisters of the Poor? I think not! Respectfully, I feel that the hypocrisy or judgment that accuses “pro-lifers”, is applicable to those who would use the term “fetus” vice baby or a life. The critique could also be seen more a jab at those of us who do not have certain vocation nor especially espouse the Franciscan “tradition”. While the term “pro-life” by many is actually “anti-abortion”, there are many people who do support the “other issues”.

    Aside from the “personality” aspect and opinions, I do have some contention.

    First, one either believes or does not believe that life begins at the moment of conception. One may find this a so-called “litmus-test”, but… By using the term “fetus” (a scientific term used to justify the termination of a pregnancy) by a member of the clergy is a travesty at the least. It is utilitarian at best; I realize that this may seem to be a minor argument about semantics, but it does not express correctly the creative nature of the “soul” of the person. If one believes that God creates life (or the soul); then taking of an “innocent life” (meaning not touched or negatively impacted by the human condition of the world, and not according to WIT – which this particular post, I found heretical at best), is indeed evil. If one believes that we are created Imago Dei, then we are in essence, killing a “piece of God.” (And, I just had a ah-ha moment, with respect to one’s position regarding the dignity of all life from natural conception to natural death).

    Second, I find it ironic that one calls out a perceived racial divide, when PP and abortion (the modern day, “safe and effective” way) was developed by Sanger to actually control the “undesirable” populations.

    Overall, I believe that the “other” issues, especially that of the poor, should be brought more to light. Perhaps instead of praying for “someone” else to pick-up the banner, one should take one small step to change the movement from within.

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Matthew, your comment that you” would have gotten up and left…this homily says it all. I am tired to this type of intolerance which is pretty common to your movement. To ask that you stay and join the conversation with an open and compassionate heart (even if not a Franciscan one) seems impossible to the self-righteous. I have of ten had people walk out when I made some comment they disagreed with. It is clear to be that many of the “so-called” pro life people are motivated by anger and rage, control freaks who cannot stand the fact that other people are free to choose acts they cannot agree with. I don’t get it.

      • Matthew M Says:

        Ms. Gambatese: Since you felt the need to call me out in your generalize inclusion of “intolerance” and “my movement,” not-to-mention, “self-righteous”, I feel obliged to respond.

        There are perhaps some comments that I should have mentioned privately to Deacon Dan, but alas that is not the case. The reason I MAY have left the homily, is NOT for any reasons you might think. Aside from our differing opinions and life experiences, vocations, etc, I would have felt the need to leave because I would have found some of the delivery and the more antagonist form too distracting to truly focus on the Sacrifice of the Mass; therefore, not in right mind to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. I would have sought the homilist afterwards to discuss this issue in a more pastoral setting.

        As with many things in life, we all have hot-button issues, and in my limited writing experience, there are times one should avoid the inflammatory so as not to turn off or shut down one’s audience. For me, my faith journey and experience as made me acutely attuned to read between the lines on certain topics. For example, using the clinical term “fetus” is akin to using “terminate a pregnancy” vice “abortion” to somehow make the procedure less personal. The same analogy may be said of “smart bombs”, “mercy killing”, “human execution”, etc. It by definition diminishes the dignity and identification of the person. My point which may have gotten lost, was not to fully disagree with Deacon Dan’s post, but to respectfully critique or question, certain fundamental issues; and to point out the mutual hypocrisy of both “sides.”

        Deacon Dan, has been called and will soon be ordained, God willing. I firmly believe in His call and his answer. Furthermore, I greatly respect his intellect, while our faith journeys and experience have shape our persons differently, according to God’s plan. I am very devout, and perhaps overly obedient to the Holy Mother Church, and Doctrine of the Faith; however, I fully recognize I am still a work in progress. With that said, I hold priests to a much higher standard and fully believe that they are for a time during the sacraments, are acting as Persona Christi. Now, whether this is a bit hubris, I as a laymen, I also believe I play a very small part in there formation, as everyone one of us does. He will be offering the great sacrifice of the mass, pastoring our children, hearing our confessions, etc. If we the Church are called to evangelize the Word of God to everyone, then those words should be authentically truthful, and should not be so inflammatory to close the ears of the people.

        PAX et vivat Iesus!

      • Matthew, You should know that you are addressing Fr. Angelus Gambatese, OFM in your post, not “Ms.” as you’ve written — not sure why you decided to use that title.

    • I missed this earlier, but should point out that this was never a homily. It is a reflection here on the DatingGod.org blog.

      • Matthew M Says:

        Thank you for clarifying to both, and my sincere appologies to Fr. Gambatese. Of course no disrepect was intended.

  3. Thanks to both of you for your comments. I would argue, however, Dudley, that while I am direct and raise certain uncomfortable questions, I tried to do so charitably and these reflections are hardly misplaced given that they are directed at a particular event that just so happens to occur today.

    Matthew, while I know we disagree about many things, I appreciate your comments, particularly your last point about changing the movement from within and supporting the other life/dignity issues. I would challenge you, on a factual note, to look into the two new biographies of Sanger to see how her connection to American and European eugenicists is not quite how you portray it above.

  4. Well said. It is unfortunate that the “pro-life” movement in this country has become nothing more than an “anti-abortion” movement. Even more unfortunate is that those who are anti-abortion are also the most vocal critics against social welfare programs needed by young and poor mothers. Similarly, the loudest opponents against abortion are also the loudest proponents of capital punishment, torture, and war.

    Criminalizing abortion will not have the intended effect many hope. It will not stop women from seeking abortions. Those with means will simply travel to Canada or Mexico or work out an arrangement with their doctor. Those without means will seek out an abortion in an unsafe environment, likely resulting in the death not only of the baby but of the mother as well. If we want the practice to end, we need to address the root causes of why women want abortions, not simply putting a band-aid on the problem and hoping it will go away. And we don’t address the root causes by cutting food stamp programs, welfare programs, and child care subsidies.

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Agree, Brian. Thanks.

    • Leonard Nugent Says:

      The root cause of abortion is undisciplined sexual intercourse.

      • angelus gambatese Says:

        WOW!

      • The root cause, of course, is sin – but who is without sin? Once the pregnancy has begun, we need to be there to support the mother. Abortion will only be ended through education (and God’s grace, of course). It won’t be ended by punitive measures and judgmentalism.

    • Leonard Nugent Says:

      God bless you father

      • Leonard Nugent Says:

        Father angelus, today is the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s execution of Ricky Ray Rector a brain damaged victim of our capital punishment system! I remember when I first heard about that I said WOW!

      • If anyone thinks that the root cause of abortions is undisciplined sexual intercourse I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you along with some oceanfront property in Arizona.

        In all seriousness, having this type of belief is stupid, dangerous, and leads to more abortions. I have a radical idea: Why don’t we support condom use? Oh wait, that’ll just lead to people having sex. The Catholic Church could REALLY demonstrate its commitment to women’s health and preventing unplanned pregnancies by doing 1 thing: Supporting the use of birth control.

      • Leonard Nugent Says:

        Wow!

  5. For a professional philosopher and theologian, you certainly mix things up pretty egregiously. Anyone who is confident enough to state that Roe v. Wade grants women rights to *safe* abortions demonstrates patent imprudence; and further conclusions derived from false premises bear no logical merit. (As a student of Scotus, surely you’d agree.) The statement that abortion is a “social sin” alongside things like “economic inequality”—hardly a damnable act, let alone a volition at all!—is similarly disingenuous.

    I don’t object at all to your insistence that Americans become attuned to the lesser-discussed violations of human dignity. And I think you’re quite right to call the March for what it is rather than what it’s not—namely, identifying it as primarily situated in opposition to something rather than in favor of something. (And I *might* even agree to some extent about it being less than effective in its current form; however, I don’t think all civic activity needs to tend toward some particular, material goal to be termed “efficient.”)

    But those all seem to take the back seat to the crux of your argument, which is that abortion is just one of a whole bunch of equally grave ills, and that it has no priority over and above other undesirable social phenomena. You suspect that commenters will object on the grounds of “so-called innocence.”

    I’m objecting on the grounds of intellectual honesty.

    • Hi Andrew, thanks for the note. I appreciate your concern and I should reemphasize that this is a series of reflections about why I do not support a particular event, a position that stems from some of the observations I’ve made in the above thoughts, but hardly a theologically or philosophically profound “argument.” I would actually recoil from a description of my post as an ‘argument’ and instead prefer it be billed as my explanation for why I do not personally support an event that has become something of a command performance in the American church. As for the ‘safe’ comment — you raise perhaps a fair point, but one only has to look at the history of women’s health in the United States (and elsewhere, think Brazil) to see how dangerous it once was. Finally, I would ask that you not presume things I do not say such that all social sins are “equal” (I position I do not hold). I’m merely saying that there are other, very important (and in some cases, perhaps even MORE important) issues that need to be considered and that are worthy of such a march.

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      I accept that your objections are honest. Intellectually I think they are quite primitive and self serving. Whether abortion is more important than slaughtering thousands of human beings for any reason depends “on whose ox is gored.” Shame on you.

    • Cassandra Says:

      “The statement that abortion is a “social sin” alongside things like “economic inequality”—hardly a damnable act, let alone a volition at all!—is similarly disingenuous.”

      As I recall, Christ never mentioned abortion, but had quite a lot to say on the topic of income inequality.

  6. Dan, Wow.
    Thank you for putting into words the thoughts and feelings I have struggled to express out loud (and internally) for so long when it comes to this weekend’s activities. I wish I had your eloquence of perspective of what you were saying in that piece and what you are challenging all of us to. If people could take three seconds and breathe after they read the piece to really understand what you’re saying, everyone there, turning their attention to that bigger picture, could REALLY do some good.
    This post makes me that more exited to read Dating God when it arrives on my doorstep this afternoon from Amazon (yay for earlier than expected deliver dates).
    I applaud your honesty and the challenges you have shared. Stay strong. I’m sure St. Francis got a lot of criticism when he handed over all of his possessions to his father to follow Christ!
    Paz y bien!

  7. Dear Brother,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I always look forward to reading your reflections. I can understand that not everyone would feel called to participate in the March for Life (I for one do not myself), but I am wondering if you would then extend your same argumentation to other forms of gatherings/marches? Do you feel the same about marches for immigrant rights? gay rights? health care rights?

    • Dear FX — thank you for your comment. Great question! I do not have a similar feeling about other marches for the very reason evident in the text of your question: they are issue-specific. No one marches for immigrant rights under the alleged aegis of a “Pro-Life March,” but that is what happens with abortion as an issue today. thanks for the question.

  8. I am not a Roman Catholic (any longer), but I am a woman of faith, and I have a few responses I would like to share.

    1. I want to thank you for your challenge towards a more full and far reaching living out of what it means to be pro-life. I do believe the witness of this day would be dramatically strengthened if it reflected a seamless garment approach, embracing all the issues you outlined, and perhaps others as well– the dignity and lives of LGBTQ persons, for example.

    2. I regret that, at least at the time I am commenting, there are no other female voices in the conversation.

    3. Mr. Haines, abortion is far, far safer under Roe v. Wade than it was previously. This is well-documented. Or… is it that the safety of the women involved does not concern you?

    4. I am baffled as to why Matthew M objects to the term “fetus.” It is indeed a scientific term, one that developed without regard to the issue of abortion, designed to give definition and specificity to a particular stage of development.

    Thank you again. Your writing is beautiful and compelling. You knew this column would touch a nerve, and it has. I admire your courage in speaking nevertheless.

    • Thanks for your comment! And I agree, there needs to be more voices of women (and women of all social, ethnic and racial backgrounds) in this conversation — great point!

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Great points, Patricia. A woman’s perspective is much needed here. Bless you.

      • Angelus,
        God bles Patricia, Dan Horan and you as well as all of those who read Dan’s initial post with open hearts and minds. Dan can tell you how we know each other. It has been a long time since we were in Rye Beach together.
        Pax et Bonum,
        Bill

  9. Great post, Dan! I second everything that Patricia Raube said above.

  10. Richard R. Andre, C. S. P. Says:

    I have two relatively simple suggestions on how to make the annual event more pro-life:

    1. During the several hours when the pilgrims celebrate Mass in the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on the night before the march, find a practical way to turn off the tour buses idling outside. As someone who lived down the street from the National Shrine of the BasiIica of the Immaculate Conception for several years, I can attest that the the vigil of the “March For Life” was the only evening of the year when we would smell smog in the neighborhood from all those buses idling. I understand that it is difficult to start up diesel buses that have been sitting in the cold for several hours, but surely the organizers of this event could find indoor parking for these vehicles within a half-hour’s drive of the Shrine. Also, invite the drivers to come in from out of the cold.

    2. Give the March a double focus: (1) continue marching to the Supreme Court to protest Roe v. Wade, but also (2) march to the Capitol Building and urge Congress to pass legislation to better support people (both women and their partners) facing unexpected pregnancies.

    In my experiences of counseling people, very few people willingly opt to have an abortion: they only choose it because they feel they have no other viable alternatives. We have an obligation to make the alternatives as attractive and as accessible as possible: this is the place to focus our creative energies!

    In charity,

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Richard, your point about the pollution from the buses is most interesting. I loved it. However, some of those brought to DC on the buses might feeling it is a small price to pay. Helping to degrade the environment, causing some people to grow ill and eventually toxic–is indeed unimportant when compared to the fact that there is a poor woman some place who may be having an abortion. Apparently we don’t have our priorities straight, Rich. Thanks for your reply.

  11. William Horan Says:

    “Try something new if you are really serious about reducing or ending abortions.

    Perhaps caring for young adults who become pregnant, taking care of unwed mothers, offering good school systems for the children who are carried to term and brought into this world – all of these would be good places to begin.”

    I like this approach. It seems consistant with the Gospel statement: “resist not evil; rather, overcome evil with good.”
    We should emphasize “taking care of unwed mothers” rather than resisting the evil of abortion.

  12. This is *fantastic.* I am going to send it to everyone I know. Thank you for so beautifully (and bravely!) articulating what is on my heart and mind.

  13. melanie statom Says:

    What would happen if we took an evening in our churches, religious education classes and simply placed a lit candle in a darkened room upon a table/.”sacrificial altar” ,letting that light illuminate an image of the crucified Christ. ….what would happen, if then we brought to that altar table a representative collection of a few of the graphic images of violence we have been knowingly or unknowingly complicit with. Without a word…..in still silence would we dare come close and light our own candles from the one Light who stands in the darkness and is not overcome by it? The Light who says, ” if you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to me?” It is Love that bids us to come and see.

    Photographic images can be powerful witnesses to Gospel truth. How they are shared can make all the difference.

  14. There’s a lot I could say in response to this post, but I’ll limit myself to three points: 1) The sweeping generalizations in this piece are certainly offensive. Once again, the dark cloud of uncharitable rhetoric casts a shadow over what could very well be some pretty agreeable points. 2) “For all those issues of life and human dignity that get left by the roadside…” Devoting a day or event to pray for one issue doesn’t mean other issues are left in the dust. When we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, do we worry about leaving out all the other wonderful women and men of God? Some days, weeks we raise awareness of global poverty or pray for an end to world hunger… some days we hold vigil for victims of capital punishment…. some days we pray for an end to abortion. 3) We’re not ALL called to do EVERYTHING. But we are all called to do something. These folks are doing something. And they remain committed even though they have yet to “get what they want”.

    • Kristina — then don’t call it “March for Life.” Please be more attentive to the content about which you commenting.

      • Dan- I’m not sure what you are referring to here re: my attentiveness, and I do agree with your point re: the name of the event. There are certainly other titles which would provide a more accurate depiction of what is happening in Washington today.

    • angelus gambatese Says:

      Kristina, I love it when pro-lifers consider negative comments about their position “uncharitable rhetoric”. I understand it must be because the pro-lifers are always careful to be charitable in their rhetoric. Walking out on anyone who disagrees with them, calling them “murderers”, “baby-killers” and abusing the rights of other people is much more compassionate. I stand corrected.

      • Angelus- I couldn’t agree with you more! And you can be sure that I do not participate in the type of name-calling and abusive protest that you point out. I take great offense to that, as well! To help you understand my comment on rhetoric, I’ll list here a few examples of the language I found uncharitable in this piece. Perhaps our exchange will be helpful to us both in future discourse. I know I have found this piece and the responses posted very enlightening. It is of course always good to be open to giving and receiving feedback on how our arguments are heard/read, especially if we are seriously interested in engaging in honest dialog with others. Anyway, the examples: the implication that marchers are insane (“That classic definition of insanity comes to mind: doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting a different result.” from Point B), are not really serious about ending abortion (“Try something new if you are really serious about reducing or ending abortions” from Point B), are self-serving/​congratulatory (Point C), and ignore other important life issues (“issues that most of these marchers would otherwise prefer to forget” from Point C)… There are good people doing good work in Washington today and every other day of the year. To me, these sorts of comments are exactly the type of judgment the author criticizes in point A when he writes that he, as a critic of the event, “is cast as “bad” or “pro-abortion” by way of omission and my particular absence from the group” — similarly, a proponent or participant is cast as insane, not really serious about the issue, self-serving/congratulatory, and ignore other life issues. I think it’s safe to say that no offense was intended. Just wanted to provide the author with some feedback on how his points came across to me.

  15. I’m being moderately lazy and commenting while nursing a kid, so I may end up lazy in some citations. If requested, I can come back later and fill in the blanks.

    First off, thank you for this post, Dan. I think it is a valid critique of and challenge to the annual March for Life, which every year seems more like a self-congratualtory exercise than making any progress toward its stated goals. What if, instead of an annual March for LIfe, there was an annual day of service, where all the marchers supported charities in their local community that provided healthcare, material support, childcare, etc, to women who would otherwise seek abortions?

    An aside, inspired by Andrew’s statement above questioning the safety of legal abortion in the US: while it is true that there are unscrupulous providers, such as Kermit Hartnell in Philadelphia, early abortion is actually statistically safer in the US than childbirth for women. 12.5 times safer actually! Which, I think, makes a stunning statement about the state of obstetrical health care in the US, and also highlights some of Dan’s points above. (source: http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(05)00973-7/abstract, gotta pay $30 for the full article, sorry.)

    Furthermore, globally, criminalizing abortion is not linked to lower rates of the procedure. (http://www.guttmacher.org/media/nr/2012/01/18/index.html) The real question for me becomes, do we want to make abortion obsolete, or simply illegal?

  16. angelus gambatese Says:

    Dan, I can’t thank you enough for this reflection. Thanks also for the clear articulation and development of your poiints from a clearly Christian, Franciscan and humane perspective. The nonsence and incredibly primitive thinking that the US Bishops offer to our people is offering them stones when they need bread.

  17. William R. Snaer, D.D.S. Says:

    I am strongly anti-abortion, but I am not much of a “marcher.” Still, I am startled by the harshness of this critique of the “March for Life.” Referring to the marchers as the “rabble of discontented churchgoers” is not the tone I would expect to see on this website. Just as there are many gifts, but the same Spirit, there are many ways of working for the triumph of good over evil. Someone else’s way may not be my way, I may even think it is unsophisticated or unproductive. But if it is not unjust, and it is rolling the ball in the right direction even a little, I believe it is wrong for me to criticize it.

    It is likewise inappropriate to criticize the March on the grounds of the racial makeup of the marchers. Exactly what is the point of that criticism? The aborted babies are disproportionally black — 40% of all abortions. Does that make white people racists because they think the black population should be larger by the live births of those babies?

    Pointing to the March’s lack of success to date fails to recognize that the March is just one piece of the campaign to at least limit the number of abortions. The campaign to abolish slavery, and the effort to establish effective voting rights both took quite a long time.

    The idea that it is unreasonable to campaign against abortion without wrapping that concern in an omnibus package with other social justice concerns makes two errors. First, it is often necessary to divide large problems into sections. That is the only way that the necessary focus and the necessary consensus can be developed.

    Second, not all the social concerns listed above are equally important. Archbishop Charles Chaput addressed this in his book, “Render unto Caesar.”

    He wrote: “In offering his own thoughts on Catholic social teaching, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin warned against the misuse of his “seamless garment” imagery to falsely invest different social issues with the same moral gravity. Many social issues are important. Many require our attention. But some are more important than others. Deliberately killing innocent human life, or standing by and allowing it, dwarfs all other social issues.”

  18. Sowi'ngwa Says:

    Remember, every protest gets flooded with people that mess it up. The racial make-up also might not determine that just a lot more white people support the March for Life, it could also reflect a suburban vs. urban conflict.

  19. Br. Dan

    Thank you for your courageous and thoughtful piece. I am from the UK, where abortion is not such a politically polarising issue as it seems to be in the U.S., nor is opposition to it so organised. Further, I don’t know as much about the “March for Life” as would a Catholic in the U.S. All that aside though, I think that you are to be commended for reminding people that abortion is not the only “life issue” and that there are more effective (and helpful) ways of eliminating in it than simply marching against it. As for the notion of one’s opinion on abortion becoming a “litmus test” to determine their “catholicity”, it is good to see someone with a readership as large as yours reminding people that this is in fact wrong, and it is Baptism/profession of faith which is the true “test” of Christian (and Catholic) faith. You write the truth eloquently. That is a rare gift which should be treasured.

  20. Thanks, Dan. Your points are well taken. Thankfully, the Church is blessed with your lucid thinking.

  21. Interesting. While I find your criticism a bit general, it seems that most of your concerns would be addressed if the event called itself “Annual Rally Against Roe v. Wade”. As a pro-life Catholic (wrt all the attendant social justice issues you mention) who has attended but does not currently attend the event, I would support such a name change.

    I would note that several of the organizations represented (including parish groups and ones such as Birthright) do put their money where their mouth is wrt material support for mothers of unplanned pregnancies.

  22. lin galea Says:

    Thank you for the well thought out discourse. Although I fall in the “pro choice” camp, I heartily agree with the points you make. Furthermore, I can never understand how the “pro-Lifers” can support capital punishment. — and, vice versa (myself included).I wish that more of our sticky issues could be discussed with the same depth of understanding and cordiality to the oppposition as you have shown. Again, my thanks to you for setting the example.

  23. Jonathan P Says:

    A lot of good points to think about. Thanks for sharing!

    As a disclosure, I have never been to the March for Life and share personal discomfort to certain elements of the March and within the movement in general.

    That said, and despite your disclaimer at the beginning of section B, my inner ethicist (primarily virtue ethics with a dash or two of deontology) cringed a little at the creeping consequentialism of this section’s focus on effects.

    It seems to me that your statement about the classical definition of insanity could be extended to the church in general: doing the same things over and over again for thousands of years without much to show for it (at least in the aggregate), i.e. violence and corruption and hypocrisy are still very active forces in the world (both inside and outside of the church). But people are still Christians. Some even dedicate their lives to “crazy” (at least by many cultural standards) vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Maybe to truly center your life around the person and principles of Jesus requires a healthy dose of insanity, though…

    But maybe effects in the aggregate isn’t the right standard by which to measure the movement. I agree that if the movement’s only purpose is to overturn Roe v. Wade, then that is indeed problematic. But I am not yet willing to characterize all those who attend the March for Life as being cut from the same cloth. There are certainly the fringe elements who often dominate the discussion, in the volume of their screams and gruesomeness of their images, if not also in sheer numbers. I think especially of Randall Terry’s carnival of chaos that so disgusted me at Notre Dame a few years back during the whole “Obama Drama.”

    I will always be uncomfortable by those of similar ilk who stand outside abortion centers with their graphic signs and proclaim to all who enter, abortionists and clients alike, that they are going to Hell. But the movement is broader than this fringe element. I know of a number of people in my home parish’s Pro-Life group who humbly and devotedly stand outside my city’s abortion center and pray for those inside, who don’t stand in judgment or condemnation, but respectfully offer those who enter information on other options and assistance available at the Pro-Life clinic across the street. However, they do more than stand outside of abortion centers. They also offer services to care for “young adults who become pregnant” and “unwed mothers.” But I recognize that it is a delicate balance. Yet on this personal level of interaction between members of “the movement” and expectant mothers with whom they have come into contact, I am not prepared to say that the movement has never had positive effects, nor that its sole focus is overturning Roe v Wade.

    All that said I share your concerns on the look-how-holy-we-are, pep rally aspects of the March (but acknowledge that I have no firsthand knowledge of it other than what I have seen on CSPAN), as well as its implicit (at the very least) identification of being “pro-life” with the Republican party. Most concerning to me is the inevitable elevation of the rhetoric (whether it be in the signs, the chants, or the speeches) to a war of us vs. them. All the blame for this, of course, cannot be placed squarely on the shoulders of the movement. Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro Choice, etc. are just as guilty of heightened rhetoric, but I would expect a movement that proclaims to be grounded in Christian beliefs to tone down the rhetoric and try to initiate a dialogue of respect, charity, and humility, not condemnation and judgment. Again however, I am willing to believe that this rhetoric is perhaps not indicative of the movement as a whole, but only the fringe that yells the loudest.

    Finally, though, I’m not sure I would personally be as quick as you to label the March “for” Life a misnomer. More accurately, I think it is both for life and against abortion/Roe v. Wade. I think that for many who attend the March, life is genuinely their concern and motivation. The fact that they see the overturning of Roe v. Wade to be the means of achieving that concern/motivation doesn’t in my mind cheapen that underlying motivation or make them inauthentic, just as I wouldn’t deem those who protest the School of Americas or the death penalty to be inauthentic if they were to label their activities as Vigils for Life, Protests for Life, etc. While their actions are also “against” something (the death penalty, Latin American death squads, etc.) underlying their protests is a fundamental concern for life.

    Again thanks for your post and reading my comments in response. If I ever came across as disrespectful in my response, please know that was not my intention.

  24. I do not believe it is misleading to label the March for Life as such, though the primary focus is on the end to abortion, and not all pro-life causes. It is still pro-life, it is just specific to one are of the cause.

    The March, in my opinion, is in its simplest way an opportunity to gather in great numbers to show solidarity. There are many, many, many individual pro-life events and groups around the country that pray at abortion centers, assist young mothers considering abortion and offer assistance (spiritual and financial) to the movement. But the March affords the opportunity to gather as one group and express the feelings of the group.

    Is the March successful in alone making a difference and overturning Roe Vs Wade? No. But it’s an opportunity to raise awareness and keep the pro-life warriors zealous.

    Should members of the pro-life community also focus on other life issues? Absolutely. But that’s not the purpose of the March. And I don’t fault them for focusing on one major segment of the culture of death.

    • +1 Thanks, Chris–my thoughts exactly.

    • Chris

      Anti-abortion is not the same thing as being pro-life. And, the fact is, many people who support a holistic approach to life, many people who have gone questioning things such as the Iraq War (after Popes have said the war was unjust) have been shouted down at the March for Life in DC.

      Indeed, one of the things I have found (seeing it first hand) is that a very GOP-based narrative often runs in this event. When health care reform was being brought up, I remember Scott Brown was being supported in the March for Life. Yes, Scott Brown. (http://everydaythomist.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/its-the-march-for-life-not-the-march-for-scott-brown/ )

      Now how was THAT pro-life? Many go believing this is about pro-life, but the narrative they get is a bait and switch and it is RIGHT to point this out.

  25. Thank you for your courage and clarity . This is a long overdue essay which I hope will be widely read AND distributed! Kudos!

  26. Isaac McDaniel Says:

    Thanks for a very thoughtful essay about a very volatile topic.

  27. Chris and Jared, the problem with your contention that the term “pro-life march” is appropriate misses an important point. Chris points out that marchers should also pay attention to other life issues. However, the simple fact is that many of the organizers and marchers simply do not. Indeed, look at some of the politicians who have been featured speakers at the rally over the years. Many have been individuals (like the reprehensible racist Jesse Helms) who not only fail to support a consistent ethic of life but actively work against it. Witness the letter of protest sent to CUA last spring regarding Mr. Boehner.
    Dan I deeply appreciate your post today; it serves as an important reminder that our stance asserting the immorality of abortion does not bind us to a specific legislative/political agenda.

  28. I was also worried about the party attitude. Until I nearly froze my feet off! Until I saw an elderly couple walking hand in hand that have been going every year for decades. I saw there a spirit of sacrifice that St. Francis would admire. I love to see the march get bigger every year. Imagine what people would say if it ended. They would say that people don’t care about defending life. People do care. And one of many ways of showing that is by marching.

  29. Dan-

    Thank you so much for this post. For years now, as a woman and a lay minister in the Church, I have always struggled with this particular day and how much our Church, at times, obsesses over it. You have articulated what I could not and I thoroughly appreciate the post (and your courage to post it). I know some have critiqued it as being too harsh–but I think it is about time someone provided a voice for those who don’t march. If that message seems harsh to those who feel passionate about marching every year- then hopefully they will think about why they, themselves feel so offended by your words. Maybe its because there are kernels of truth in what you have written.

    This post and the comments (that I have been following all throughout the day) remind me an episode that This American Life recently did entitled “Nemeses.” This episode talk began by with a story about a group of women (both pro and anti abortion) that met in secret to discuss their own particular view points. Their goal was to just have a healthy discussion without the vitriol (Now, in this current discussion, I believe we are all for preserving the dignity of all life, but nonetheless, the conversation is always emotionally charged). I found listening to this episode interesting and helpful in addressing such an emotionally charged issue (in which even though we are all for life, we often do not treat each other like we are all for life). Here’s the link for anyone interested: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/453/nemeses

    Thanks again.

    J.

  30. I believe that there are certain moral absolutes. I have no idea about the meaning of “Social Sins”. All sins are social. They either offend God or hurt our neighbor. The moral absolute in this discussion is the right to life, life that has been given by God at the moment of conception. We have no right to deny life at any point in the life to death spectrum, no matter the the argument for social expediency. Have we lost our humanity? God knows, perhaps we have.

  31. Dan,
    Very well stated. Probably the reason I think this is because I agree with all that you said. It is about time a cleric stated this the way you did. By the way we drove from our daughters home in New Jersey to our home in VA today. When I listened to the news reports about the traffic on the way home they mentioned a number times that there was a demonstration going on in DC and some streets were blocked but they never mentioned the topic of the demonstration.
    Pax et Bonum,
    Bill

  32. Matthew–I have little to say beyond what you, William, and a few others have written. I am flying high having just looked at pictures of my brother, nieces, and nephews (all young adults and teens) in front of the capital with other marchers. I wish I could have been there! I am very proud of them and their witness to life.

  33. “I’m objecting on the grounds of intellectual honesty.”

    Likewise.

    It is not nice to insist the Church teaches what you think it ought to be teaching instead of what it actually does teach. These things are not a mystery and not hard to find out. For a religious to willfully keep his head in the sand is unhealthy. It’s not like you *have* to be Catholic. If civility is your big thing, I have to ask, haven’t you seen the signs? “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You.”

    • Joe-

      I think what you have written here typifies the very behavior Br. Dan was trying to address: mainly that if someone doesn’t totally fully, support the “March for Life” then somehow they are not Catholic. Br. Dan makes it very clear what the Church Doctrine is on abortion and he does not say anything that is against Church Doctrine.

      Also, I think it is very unfair (and probably not in line with the Code of Conduct for blogging comments) to suggest that Br. Dan should find a home in another faith community (your view, by the way, may be why fewer and fewer people are in the pews these days.) I find his voice to be a welcome necessary voice in our Church. Yes, his words and vision challenge us and make us feel uncomfortable at times. But then again, didn’t Jesus do the same thing?

      I say the above with the deepest respect.
      Julianne

  34. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I have been trying to explain your exact points to a few of my friends. I wasn’t able to clearly make my point, but have now forwarded them the link to this post.

  35. Br Dan – first time I have read your blog – it is certainly easy to hear your voice in your writing, It was easy to imagine you sitting at HNC and voicing these same thoughts, One question you ask is about the singularity of the march (and it seems the whole movement with the Church), The Bishop of St Petersburg shares a similar concern about the reduction of a such a wide moral issue to one aspect – and the energy it drains from all other social issues upon which the Church has a moral voice for the public square. But then the Bishop can speak for himself (and he does, he is the first US bishop to blog !!) You can read the specific post I have in mind here: http://blogs.dosp.org/bishoplynch/2011/11/17/a-silver-star-over-tampa/
    Be well and God bless. Musing from Tampa

    • Please do not post links here without comments. This page is reserved for reader’s comments (you may link to outside articles, videos, etc., but only after offering your own contribution).

    • 7 Objections Against Those Who, as Part of the Roman Catholic Church, Nonetheless Delight in Mocking, Deriding, and Publically Belittling the Protestation of Abortion for the Greater Convenience of Seeming Enlightened, Pluralistic, in Vogue, and Ecumenical:

      1. Had the March for Life been entitled the “March against Roe vs. Wade” you, and others would have protested that such a movement should be for something instead of negatively opposing it. The Civil Rights Movement was for civil rights but also against segregation at the same time.

      2. Your claim that those who march in the protest implicitly denote you as “bad” is just mere conjecture.

      3. How is depicting “inhumane” photos of real abortions worse than those who perpetrate such acts?

      4. The mere fact that other issues worth discussing or campaigning for do exist is not a reason to abandon one cause that by your own admission is justified. If you are intimidated by the unintended effects (i.e. being associated with a segment of the Church with whom you disapprove) your cowardice is greater than any bad press that comes from the protest.

      5. “Perhaps caring for young adults who become pregnant, taking care of unwed mothers, offering good school systems for the children who are carried to term and brought into this world – all of these would be good places to begin.”
      -All of these have been done and are done by organizations and people affiliated with the Catholic Church. Your cynicism and skepticism regarding people’s motives and or commitment in attending the March is unbecoming of a Catholic priest.

      6. “Perhaps those, mostly white, marchers would do well to consider the racial, gender, ethnic, socio-cultural and economic issues that undergird the abortion questions in this country. It is never, never as simple as “good” versus “bad,” “pro-life” versus “pro-death,” and so on.”
      -Perhaps you would do well to consider the origins of contraception and Planned Parenthood in the United States as stemming from a desire to eradicate undesirables, in particular, minorities. Margaret Sanger’s avid racism and eugenic propaganda was only to be rivaled by those of the Third Reich. While those who minister to souls in distress concerning abortion are well aware, you unfortunately have already neglected your own principle of refraining from dividing the “good” from the “bad.” Only you, the enlightened Catholic observer who is not clouded by doctrinaire propaganda, can perceive the ambiguity inherent within this issue. By your implicit categories I must relegate myself to the ethnocentric, close-minded camp of Catholic automatons.

      7. As a member of the clergy yourself, you must be fully aware of the shameless politicking that goes on in the church, and regrettably it occurs here at the March as well. But, following your objection, all church causes, events, or institutions, (not excluding whatever role you serve in our church) would fall under my scrutiny and inevitable rejection. I find it ironic Reverend Father, that the very same laity you seem so eager to protect from clericalism and institutional violence, you dismiss as too ignorant to understand your critique. May I remind you Father that the majority of those who come and march in the icy cold of January, those who suffer all the wide ranging effects of abortion and its evils, those who endure a church of politics and corruption (of which you are a part), those who faithfully minister and assist charities and outreach to the poor are not clerics like yourself, but those who make up the mystical body of the church. And that body is indeed given to us for the protection of life.

      • I’m not going to respond to each of these, but I should point out yet again (as I have above in an earlier comment) that your point #6 is incorrect. You can read the two new biographies of Sanger, check out the extensive feature piece on her in a recent issue of The New Yorker or otherwise do your research before you conflate the would-be co-option of one woman’s effort to help other women with a nefarious eugenics agenda. She indeed had connections to eugenicists, but not in the way you depict it.

  36. Amen, Brother!

  37. K. Murphy Says:

    Father, a few thoughts.

    First, your condescending, judgemental tone belies your view of yourself as a “so-called” “honest” critic. You hint that marchers are racists and, amongst other things, “self-righteous grandstanders . . . disinterested in matters of human rights and dignity.” Wow. You can look into not just one but tens of thousands of hearts and minds and discern all that? That’s spiritual “chutzpah.”

    What does the fact that the marchers are overwhelmingly white have to do with their concern over the millions of abortions (of children of all genders and races) that have happened since Roe v. Wade. Are people of color being denied access to the March, or discouraged from participating? Should someone who feels strongly about abortion deny themselves participation because of their ethnicity or check ahead for the ethnic makeup before booking a bus ticket? You look for racism where none exists,for facts that fit your race/gender/ethnic/socio-cultural/economic mindset.

    You mention the “so-called innocence of the fetuses.” So-called? You state that innocence is “a construct that has theological and ethical implications and characteristics that have been explored on this website.” Discerning the moral dimensions of dismembering a child in the womb, via surgical or chemical means, is not something that requires a trip to your or any other website. I think most decent people would agree that a child in the womb has committed no act to rob them them of their innocence or innate human dignity.

    In your other post concerning Warren Buffet (“The Wisdom of Warren Buffet: A Christian Reflection’) you refer to him as a “good person” because of his economic views. Google Mr. Buffet on his support for abortion. He is one of its leading contributors. For example, review the piece in Slate magazine (http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2010/07/14/how_warren_buffett_is_helping_new_abortion_providers.html) on his financing of abortion-training programs to the tune of over $300 million. I believe it safe to say that that Mr. Buffet never met an abortion method he did not approve of or wouldn’t fund. Yet, in your view, he is a good man.

    Honestly Father, this website makes me very tired. It reads more like a political screed than a spiritual blog.

    • Your comments and disposition here are very close to earning a deletion of these remarks. I’m leaving it up, however, as an example (along with “Joe”‘s remarks below) so that other posters will take note of how this sort of rhetoric does not reflect well what the NCR article is lauding about the rest of this post and conversation (http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/march-life-day-reasoned-discussion-abortion). The overwhelming majority of readers neither see my post as “condescending” nor “judgmental” in tone.

      I’m sorry that the very real, important, direct and challenging questions here have upset you — perhaps you need to reflect on why that is. If some of what you claim were true, you’d have no reason to be so defensive and vitriolic in your response.

  38. To all those who have reacted so negatively to this post, I would simply say that YOU are likely the same people who proclaim to be pro-life but yet have never spoken up against capital punishment; vote for politicians who continuously vote against social welfare programs for the poor; and think it’s okay to waterboard suspected terrorists. Am I making a broad generalization? Yes, and have no problem doing so. Why? Because the entire point of this post was to make the statement that a supposed March for Life really isn’t about supporting life in its entirety as Catholics–as Christians–are called to do. Instead it’s an anti-abortion rally. It’s a rally to fire up “the base” to decry Roe v Wade. It’s a rally for anti-abortion politicians (not pro-life politicians because again, most of them don’t support life in its entirety, they just oppose abortion) to get up and talk about liberal politicians and judicial activism and a need to return to our Constitutional roots, all of which is complete bull manure.

    • Leonard Nugent Says:

      Bill Clinton suspended his campaign 20 years ago today so he could return to Arkansas to execute Ricky Ray Rector of whom the wiki says…. Rector seemed incapable of understanding his pending death sentence. Brian I did not vote for Mr Clinton.

  39. […] Catholic Reporter and read a post, read it here, which gave paeans of praise to a post, go here to read it and the comments,  by a Franciscan Brother, Daniel P. Hogan, at his website, Dating […]

  40. Br. Dan, thank you very much for expressing your concerns with the March for Life from a very Catholic position concerned with all life and the effectiveness of our efforts to promote dignity!

    As a senior at Catholic University, I just endured my fourth January weekend of activities for the March. Given our location, the University supports/subsidizes many March activities on campus and at the Shrine next door. I, myself, live only a few hundred yards from the Shrine and watch the events all weekend as I try to study and go on with life.

    It might be of interest to you and/or some of your readers that Catholic University students are beginning to express similar reservations about the March. No matter one’s feelings or level of participation, CUA students will undergo a closer relationship to the March than most Americans/Catholics over their time here because Marchers eat in the student center, lounge around campus, and have buses, cars, vans, all over campus, etc. We see the very best and very worst of the weekend’s events, participants, etc. to a large extent.

    Even though we still send hundreds of students to the March, there’s a growing movement here to ask why other issues of life and dignity aren’t addressed on this campus with such force. It is always fascinating that efforts by students such as myself to educate, raise awareness and get petition drives going or what not about other pressing life issues when so many “pro-life” people are around are so often stonewalled, challenged, and told we’re too progressive, outside Church teaching, and the variety of responses I’m sure you can imagine.

    While it is obviously specific to the University’s inner workings, anyone can read the official statement of a student group calling the University to promote a consistent life ethic at 17to2.wordpress.com. Questions and concerns can be directed to 17to2campaign@gmail.com.

  41. Hi Dan,

    I found your post thought-provoking, honest, and respectful, and for that I thank you. I am also gratified to see largely charitable commentary taking place on it, which I hope will continue.

    I do take issue specifically with the second point your raise, the (so-called) ineffectiveness of the march. That the march itself has not led to the overturning of Roe v Wade is clear, sure. But it does, as a comment above noted, raise awareness of the issue of abortion (and specifically the anti-abortion side) as well as show solidarity with the unborn or pre-born or the in utero or fetuses or whatever (who, strictly speaking, are intrinsically voiceless).

    Further, mostly out of curiosity, does your opposition to “events that do not have any chance of effecting the goal set out for the effort” extend to the SOA marches in November (whose biggest success has been the renaming of the SOA) or to the many anti-war protests in the last five decades? While these are more accurately named then the March for Life, it’s not clear to me that either have had the effect they set out to achieve (closing the SOA or ending wars), yet they still seem valuable and important witnesses against the institutionalization of death.

    More broadly, as Christians we believe that we are corrupted by sin that infects our minds, our hearts, our actions, and our omissions. We are unable on our own to overcome sin – only grace can do so. Yet we are still called to seek the good, to act rightly, to resist temptation, to inculcate virtue, even knowing that our efforts will fail, sometimes tragically, and we will always fall short.

    The March for Life is an incomplete (and perhaps inaccurately named) measure of resistance to one example of social sin, yet I’m not convinced that success is the most important or useful category for judging it.

    -steve

  42. Thank you for your insightful comment. I am pro-life , in all ways and forms. However I have been uncomfortable with the violence and anger in the anti-abortion movement for a long time; love\ agape is the only way to true change. When we begin to act in ways that value all lives; maybe the there will be no need for abortion legislation; because each life will be celebrated as the gift from God that it is.
    As long as society continues to value possessions and position over creating the kingdom of the Prince of Peace and Love , we will continue to kill ourselves and others, spiritually and physically. I hope that the marchers in D.C. took time to look into their hearts and lives to discern what they do each day that causes women around the world to believe that killing their unborn child is the only option they have. The change I want begins not in Washington, but in my heart and soul.

  43. Word of Wisdom Says:

    Matthew 12:
    31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

    Do you really dare slander your brothers and sisters in Christ who are moved by the Spirit to ‘bind the strong man’…you’re one step away if not already there…

    Psalm 106:
    37 They sacrificed their sons
    and their daughters to false gods.
    38 They shed innocent blood,
    the blood of their sons and daughters,

    Yes, the ‘so-called’ innocent children, are in fact innocent according to God’s Word

    Binding the stong man:
    How many executions in the US in 2011? 43
    How many abortions in the US annually? * In January 2011, the Guttmacher Institute reported: a.) 1.21 million abortions in the US in 2008 (from lifematterstv.org)

    Come on now! Let the Church be the Body. Let hands be hands, feet be feet, pro-lifers be pro-lifers, helpers of the hungry be helpers of the hungry, etc.

  44. Thank you, Bro. Dan, for writing such a challening and thought provoking piece. And thank you to all commenters who give thoughtful support and opposition to Bro. Dan’s remarks.

    Re: Point B, I agree that I do not see Roe v Wade getting overturned by hundreds of thousands of people marching on Washington for a day. When I was able to accept that point, it changed the way I view and participate in the March.

    Having just returned from the March with a bus full of young people, I see the March’s importance in forming the hearts and consciences of the individuals attending. While legislatively it does not seem that much will be changed, the positive internal transformation that can happen through the March should not be overlooked. The hundreds of thousands of people present for this event go back into their communities and affect their family and friends (and, also, their own personal, future decision making). While not measurable, it is no less important.

    Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with your point about the sacredness of all life. During the March, I sometimes wonder about the chants of “save the babies!”, thinking, “Ok, now what are we doing to support them now that they’re saved?” It is reflections like the one you wrote above which raise that important and challening question, and I thank you for doing so!

  45. Br. Dan,

    Would you please be more specific about your quibbles with the connection of Margaret Sanger to the eugenics movement? The exculpatory evidence of the New Yorker piece is that she is a socialist, which, for anyone with a passing familiarity with the eugenics movement, hardly clears Sanger’s name of the eugenics charge. I have to admit that your strange, cryptic responses dealing with Sanger piqued my curiosity. What is your opinion of this woman’s actions during her lifetime? Do you believe that she was an important leader in the eugenics movement? Do you believe that race was a factor for her in her support of eugenics?

    On an unrelated note, I was wondering if your frequent use of the phrase “Roman Catholic” is meant as a synonym of “Catholic” or if “Roman” is meant to modify “Catholic” in some way?

    Thank you.

  46. […] politics and the corrosive sin of pride By Fred Clark, January 24, 2012 1:00 pmFranciscan brother Daniel Horan explains why he does not support the annual “March for Life” against legal … (via).Horan discusses three reasons for his stance against the march:… (a) the event’s […]

  47. Your comments are particularly hurtful because the Franciscans are so dear to my heart.

    Old joke but fitting in response:

    A man is beaten and left for dead on a street in New York,
    A businessman sees him from across the street but hurries past because it is none of his affair,
    A priest sees him too and crosses the street, choosing to avoid knowing why he lies there,
    A social worker sees him and, standing over him, exclaims “the person who did this needs help!”

    You trade one unkindness for another. You say we are hypocrites because we don’t fight all injustice and then condemn us for choosing one to fight.

    I cannot imagine St. Francis saying or writing something as unkind as you have.

    • I find your comment rather offensive for it is aimed at an individual and based on errant and uncharitable presumptions. I’m not sure which “Franciscans are dear to your heart,” but for their sake, I wish you would be more prudent in the way you address other Franciscans. Thank you.

  48. Brilliantly and eloquently stated. I, too, pray for an end to abortion, but I cannot identify with the so-called “pro-life” movement as long as they are so narrow in their focus.

  49. Forgive me Brother if I offend for I do not wish to. Instead, I wish to defend those good women and men who are struggling to live their lives in an authentically Christian way.

    Many thousands of people took time off from work to march in defense of life from conception to natural death. We did so at the heels of Archbishop Chaput – a Capuchin Franciscan – who called us to witness to the Church’s teaching in charity and faithfulness.

    Your post appears to mock that effort as pointless. Further, it appears to say that the liturgy performed at the opening of the day was, in some sense, invalid because it was a “spectacle over and against the sense of the sacred it might otherwise elicit.”

    I do not doubt your sincerity, that you truly believe that standing against abortion is right and proper but that we should strive to live the fullness of the Church’s social teachings. I share that view. Indeed, if Love is the greatest virtue, how can we be satisfied with less.

    I take issue though with the lack of charity in your writing. Rather than seeking to build upon the impulse displayed by the marchers, you are content to beat us down, to denigrate our sacrifice as unworthy and, perhaps, ignoble and self-aggrandizing.

    We are flawed for we are human. Christ meets man where he is. His call to holiness began with an acknowledgement of what was good. Your post presumes too much and finds fault where there should be acknowledgement of a good impulse only half realized.

    If I have offended with my earlier reaction, I hope that my explanation will make amends for I bear no ill will towards any who have given their life to God in a way that I was not called to do. Vivat Jesus!

  50. For the past six years, I have produced a photojouranl of the March for Life. I have found it to be a diverse and uncommonly joyful gathering. As a convert of just four years (from evangelicalism) I love the diversity of the Catholic Church. And whites are not the only people who support life.

    Since a picture says 1000 words, why not visit my blog to see my slideshow? http://mommylife.net/archives/2012/01/march_for_life_8.html

    Are you sure you’re not just trying to feel spiritually superior? You seem to be extraordinarily judgmental and lacking in charity toward those of us who are living pro–life lives. Are you assuming that wll we do is march once a year? You are very wrong then. I have three adopted children with Down syndrome – one saved from abortion.

    I am also a former radical leftist who fought for abortion rights and had one of my own. I enjoy gathering with people who will sacrifice their time, money and energy to peacefully assemble year after year to signal our unwillingness to give in to the culture of death. I also love being around people who are so filled with joy and love for others.

    I don’t know that I would find that in spending a few hours in your company.

    Please stop judging us. You truly don’t know us.

    • Your comment is exactly what Br. Dan is referring to. You equate pro-life with being anti-abortion. But being pro-life is MORE than just being against abortion. It means embracing the beauty and sanctity of life at every stage for all people.

      As I said in another comment, if you’re offended by what he wrote then you’re probably one of those people who think that being pro-life means being against abortion and that’s it. And if that’s what you believe, then call a spade a spade and stop calling it a March for Life and call it a March Against Abortion. Or perhaps a March to Overturn Roe V Wade. What about that offends you? What about that is not an accurate portrayal of what this march/rally is really about?

      • Julie Klekas Says:

        Brian, you did not understand one word of Barbara’s comment. How can you say that she thinks being pro-life means being agaisnt abortion and that is it? She is LIVING a pro-life LIFE by raising a family of 12 children (she humbly left out that part). One of her biological children was born with Down Syndrome and then she and her husband adopted three more boys who have Down Syndrome. Do you not know that 90% of babies with Down Syndrome diagnosed prenatally are aborted? She SAVED the life of a precious child who would have been aborted had she not offered to give her life to raise and love this child! She is doing exactly what you wrote being pro-life is! Your words above: “it means embracing the beauty and sanctity of life at every stage for all people”. She has literally taken into her home 3 orphans with a disability! What have you done? So what if the March is called the March For Life and you think it should be called a March Against Abortion. You seem more upset about the name of the march than helping to save unborn children from abortion. And that is what the March for Life is about: to help others see the beauty of life and why abortion is harmful. If you cannot grasp this, then I do not have another word to say to you.

      • Your comment shows how narrow your vision is. I adopted three children with Down syndrome – raising “the least of these” and providing a good quality of life. I also have nine children by birth. I volunteer at a food pantry once a week.

        Why are you spiritually prideful men so concerned about what we call our March. To me, it is a March for Life – from conception to natural death. That love of life infuses every choice I make each day.

        My husband has a saying he taught our kids about spiritual pride: cutting off the heads of others to make yourself taller. It’s difficult for me to believe that you choose to use your time to cause division.

        How can you judge the hearts of 400,000 others sho harshly?

        Pride and presumption – ugly sins.

      • I admire all adoptive parents, many of my friends and several of my college classmates have also adopted children — a great gift from God for both parent and child. I will ask you to be more charitable in your comments, your defensiveness and posturing is not really welcome here. Your sharing of your story and your thoughts about the actual content of the post, however, is most welcome. For the record: “pride and presumption,” are not sins. Just as anger is not a sin — popularly called “deadly sins,” sin requires agency.

      • I think that most of us get the point that there must be more to being “pro-life” than merely opposing abortion. What is troubling is the chastisement for doing even this in defense of the Church’s teaching.

        Let me put it differently: When a young man came to Christ and asked what he needed to do to attain heaven, Christ began by recognizing the value in what he had already done – the living the law – before challenging him to follow him.

        That is the essence of pastoral counseling – recognizing that the person before you is flawed but has done good and building on that good. This piece misses that and, so, abuses and offends rather than inspiring.

        It is often true that the message is lost because of the method that it is conveyed.

        Brother Dan surely means well and his point is well-taken but he uses a cudgel to convert and that rarely works. It is worth remembering that the vast majority of American Catholics are uncatechized. Most of us are working hard to pay tuition and fit acts of charity into our lives through our parishes.

        Would it be better for us to give everything up and simply follow Him? There are certainly some of us that rejected our calling to religious life for whom the answer to that question is an unequivocal “yes.” For most of us though, our calling IS to work and raise our families. We are called to attend mass, engage with the sacraments, catechize our children, and behave charitably with the property we are stewards of. It is good and proper, perhaps even necessary, for us to put as much direct efforts to improve the lives of others as possible.

        Surely being scout leaders, soccer coaches, and volunteering at the library qualify as “good” acts. So too, running a parish fish fry or festival so that our schools have pencils and parishes can hand out rosaries at First Holy Communion are good acts. Closer to the issue at hand, vigils and marches in support of life from conception to natural death are witnesses to a faith deeply felt and held even if they are not as full as the Church’s social teaching embraces.

        Brother Dan’s post appears to mock the marchers’ devotion and that is offensive. It would have been more prudent and helpful to acknowledge the efforts and then to have called us to even more: a nudge towards a more full expression of social justice rather than a scornful bashing for the steps already taken is called for.

      • Please recall the actual content and title of the post. This is about why “I” do not support the march. It is a reflection of my own position, that, I hope, also raises challenging questions and points of reflection for others.

  51. I will be upfront in saying I haven’t read all of the comments, so if I’m cluttering one stream of thought or another, I apologize.

    I lived in DC for 4 years and found the polarization of Republican and Democrat insufferable, especially as I was living on Catholic University’s campus and attending classes there–I suppose I thought that being at a Catholic University would entail more of a focus on theology and the praxis thereof than politics, but, just as we’re not purely spiritual beings, we’re required to dabble (or, dare I say it, embroil ourselves) in politics. Even so, I was amazed at how so many people, when I was discussing the interconnectedness of issues (e.g., poverty, abortion, pornography, etc), people would seem confused and quizzically say, “so…you’re pro-…life?” Don’t get me wrong, I know for a fact that on the whole people were embracing a more holistic view of pro-life issues than abortion/anti-abortion, but the overwhelming vibe that I got was that abortion truly was the crux. Perhaps due to my own inferences rather than what people interiorly wished to convey, it seemed to me that people contended that being vocally anti-abortion in a particular way was THE ONE TRUE litmus test of good Catholicism.
    This isn’t to say I’m not anti-abortion; the notion of it horrifies me. I’m edified to hear or read testimonies of people who have found the march a clarifying, prayerful, charitable, etc. experience. I don’t want to discount that experience, but I also need to take my own experience into account. This is one that sees the March as a misnomer. This is the one that hears completely political talk (for it’s political and secular thought that permits the partitioning of abortion and any number of other social justice issues linked with the destruction of personhood into “subsistent”, or “unrelated” issues) in what ideally would be a discussion of WHY the culture needs to change. This is the one that saw many people go with the sense that it was primarily a social function (rather than secondarily or someplace farther down the list). This is the one that, perhaps because of being too sensitive to the other side, thought that most of the March, if it were out to convince people, carried a sanctimonious attitude.
    I don’t think that I or the esteemed author of this blog have the full picture, but I think it’s important to acknowledge the possibility that many people–professed, practicing, Catholics who are magisterial dudes and dudettes–find aspects of it at best poorly articulated, if not poorly conceived. I acknowledge that surely there are merits to holding Vigils, marching in protest, and engaging in things such as Sidewalk Ministries to battle this front of the culture of death. Sometimes I just wonder if the tools need sharpening, refining, recalibration, etc.

    • Miguel,

      It was interesting to hear that you expressed similar sentiments to what many students at Catholic University are talking about right now. The politicization of the spiritual and the social justice efforts remain. I am unsure what you studied and for what purpose here, but if you would ever like to get involved in helping current students change CUA for the better, please contact 17to2campaign@gmail.com

      Blessings!

  52. Eileen O'Brien Says:

    I apologize for not taking the time to read you entire article. I get the “jest” of it, but became tired of the “wordiness”. Sometimes simple is best. Therefore, I will tell you what is good about the “Pro-Life” March. It simply provides support for all those involved in the movement. Yes, I get irritated to say the least with the extreme. Personally, I think it clouds the intent. But name an event that DOESN’T have an extreme side? Most supporters simply want to see an end to abortion. Taking a life before it even has a chance to bring joy into the world. It’s that simple.

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  54. In the earliest days of the Church, Christians did not give much credence as to whether the laws of the land conformed to their world view. Christians just assumed they did not. They were in the world but not of it. If the world was to be transformed in Christ, it was not through the laws of this world that Christians looked to for this transformation but through the conversion and transformation of souls – people. This was done mainly by the example of their lives, through charity to one another and outreach to the rejected stones of society. They persevered in this Charity even unto death. This formula for evangelization was spectacularly successful despite the severe persecutions exacted by various Roman Emperors. As the donation of Constantine appears to be a dead letter in the Post Modern west, we would do well to follow the example of our earliest forbears in the Faith and again focus our evangelical energies by, indeed, caring for each other from conception to natural death and reaching out toward the margins to mitigate the horrific effects of these barbaric, misplaced worldly practices with the same gentle compassion that Jesus exemplified toward everyone He ever met. Don’t count on the world to meet your moral muster. Count on Christ acting through you and all those you encounter along the journey.

    Peace…

  55. This video, for me, captures the experience that I had as an undergrad student attending the March for Life in 1995. I traveled through the night on a chartered bus with classmates from Providence College and other Catholic colleges in New England and the experience was awesome. What struck me was the youthful optimism and positive energy I experienced. My nieces and nephews expressed to me how affirming it was for them to attend this march on Monday.

  56. Julie Klekas Says:

    I would like to ask you Fr. Dan, what do you do to promote pro-life activites? I am a mother of 10 children and our youngest has Down Syndrome. Are you aware that pregnant mothers given a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome abort at a 90% rate? Does that bother you? I know of many families who marched with their Down Syndrome children. I would say that this is a very pro-life activity! Raising 10 children is a pro-life activity! It is quite scary to jump in on this discussion because it seems to me that most people commenting here are more interested in expressing how wonderful are your written words and if they disagree with you, then they are dismissed for their “mistakes” in their comments with a noticeable lack of charity. Here is a link to a video made by a young man who is trying to make a difference. At least he is out there trying to do something to change hearts. Your written piece above sounds to me like a whiny child and I know a lot about whiny children. This video and young man’s blog will change hearts.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/badcatholic/2012/01/march-for-life-2012.html

    • Julie, I ask that you return to the actual content of the post to read what is actually said. As I mentioned to another commenter, “I admire all adoptive parents, many of my friends and several of my college classmates have also adopted children — a great gift from God for both parent and child,” and I would hope that you are not using your children, who are individually loved into existence by God, for your own posturing. Your story and your reflections about actual content posted here is most welcome, your conjecture and accusations are not. Calling someone a “whiny child” is itself childish, particularly in this case, and I ask that you be more charitable and kind in any future post — otherwise your comments will be deleted.

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  58. Dan, your post is lucid, compelling, evangelically and theologically grounded. In reading it several times I perceive no lack of charity, and on the contrary a great deal of wisdom. Unfortunately I see the reverse in a goodly number of your critics. Raising consciousness is never easy, but a little consciousness goes a long way.

  59. Do you want the “Race for the Cure” to change its name because it is only about a particular type of cancer? It should include cures for everything, not just a single issue, right?
    How insensitive and disingenuineness of those people!
    And really, do they have to race every year and draw thousands of people to think about cancer for one entire day. That will never solve anything. It is not even a race. They walk.

  60. Josh Perello Says:

    As someone that was pro-choice before my conversion to Christ I find this blog post and some comments a little nauseating. If you are a Catholic, it would be wise to follow what Mother Church teaches. If you are a teacher in the Church your soul is at risk of eternal separation from God if you teach anything contrary to Mother Church. My dear friends is any of this worth it? Harden not your hearts when judging the members of our Body when the fruit of the pro-life movement is saving babies from being killed in the womb.

    What a blessing from God that He protects our Holy Church, even when His ministers try to destroy it from the inside. God bless and fight till the end.

    • It might be wise to know what “Mother Church teaches” as well as what the author actually wrote before posting a reply that raises moot questions because you don’t…

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  62. I don’t normally feel the need to jump in, but Dan, I wanted to say that I really appreciated this piece. In reading the comments, I’m once again struck by how quick we all are, on all sides of debates, to call each other names and attack the person, rather than the arguments. It saddens me when we can’t ask difficult questions or raise concerns without fear of being attacked. You knew that many would be upset (even angry to the point of complete disrespect) and yet you chose to share this, hoping to open space for dialogue. So thank you for that.

    It also saddens me that anyone would take this as advocating for anything other than official Church teaching…pointing out ways we as a community can do better at remembering the breadth and depth of life is completely in line with Church teaching.

    • Thank you for your comment, it is a breath of fresh air amid a lot of rather vitriolic hot air. It is reassuring to know that at least some folks actually understand what the post is about and how it is only (a) a personal reflection of my choice not to support an event and (b) a simple invitation to discuss challenging questions and issues related to the event that most participants — clearly now — would rather just ignore. Peace and good!

  63. Thank you SO MUCH for writing this! When I was Catholic, I was constantly disappointed by my church’s failure to have any serious discussions about this issue. There was the massive surge of “Spritually Adopt An Unborn Child!!!” and “Rally FOR LIFE!!” and bumper stickers and pictures of aborted fetuses every January and October, but charity and other such concerns seemed to be completely ignored.

    Sure, we’d pray “for an end to all war” in the General Intercessions each week, but it always seemed like more of an afterthought than like something anyone else cared about. And the poor and suffering, both here and abroad, were rarely mentioned. Thank you so much for reminding me that there are Catholics who actually care about social issues other than abortion.

  64. So Bro. Dan I am confused, the March for Life is against the issue of abortion, how much more specific can that be? Last time I checked abortion is murder and unlike the death penalty or the just war, simply is not in the same level. Abortion murders an innocent human life unless you can prove to me that a fetus is guilty of some personal sin and deserves to die the way a criminal may or soldiers in a war. Do you agree that abortion is murder? Now, now Bro. Dan that’s a simple yes or no question.

    • I don’t want to speak for the man who wrote this article, but basically what the article is saying is: Yes, abortion is a tragedy and a societal ill, but the antiabortion movement is trying to degenerate this complex topic into a black-and-white issue, instead of preventing the situations that would drive women to abortion in the first place. Basically, if you really want to save women from abortion, self-congratulatory fanfare is not the way to do it.

      • While not speaking for me, I think you’re certainly getting closer to my point than most of the folks who blindly object in their comments. Thanks for your more careful reading of the content than those who have been so critical without reason. Peace and good!

  65. It is crazy to say that the Catholic church doesn’t care about social justice. The church spent more money rebuilding Indonesia than any other world organization. The church has spent more money than any other organization rebuilding Haiti. I worked at a church for 12 years. We started PADS – Public action to deliver shelter in our community. This ministry turned into a permanent location for a soup kitchen, transitional living, clothes closest, homeless shelter. The church that I currently work at is just about to house 40 homeless TONIGHT. So, stop it. The Catholic is the leader in serving the poor, sick, etc. To judge people who marched on the anniversary of ROE as not caring about the poor is absolutely crazy. Abortion is THE civil rights issue of this generation. I supposed using your rational no one should have protested the Holocaust because there was a war to protest. Or, maybe we should not have protested for civil rights in the 60’s because there was a war going on. Give me a break. January 22 is the date for a court decision that destroyed the civil rights of the unborn. They can’t speak for themselves. Someone needs to speak for them. To say that people can’t protest specifically for them is insane.

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  67. I’m a pro-choice atheist and this article makes me happy. Religion is more than just its bad parts – this article is proof of that.

  68. I am a first time Rally/March attendee, and what I experienced there quite literally made me sick! Like mentioned in the article I left my family and job for 2 days and went to see for myself. I can’t even begin to tell you the moments of rudeness I experienced from those who were Marching for Life. They certainly had their agenda’s but I don’t know if it was really saving unborn children. Since I have returned the whole issue has been gnawing at my spirit … how can a nun hold up a sign that says she “votes pro life first”; as a single parent, who at the time my son was concieved, was penniless, alone and afraid, I am fearful that one day I will loose my son to some unjust war or someone’s need for cheap oil! Not once when I was pregnant did I consider abortion, even though I had moments of shame and guilt; I didn’t not have an abortion because it was illegal I didn’t have an abortion because my parents gave me something to hold on to and that is my faith that God will forgive everything and will be with you no matter what. The Catholic Church seems to want to ignore that our families are dying, that children are raising themselves, that adults have decided not to grow up, to be consumers before parents, and everyone seems to have a “good enough” mentality; God created us for excellence in all things and has given us all we need to be excellent, but we can’t do it alone. Those at the March seem to think that if you get a bunch of Catholics together in one place it is enough to give everyone a good feeling, now lets go back into our caves when we return home. (Do the math on the attendance of events like World Youth Day – not even 1% of Catholics are in attendance (because most people can’t afford it!! — and the unbelievable coverage it recieves in for months and months after in Catholic media!) I dont know how things are in other places, when I talk to people it seems to be contradictory; but I can’t find enough people in my parish to teach religious education because for those who come to church on Sunday do not know their faith well enough to pass it down; there is little talk of God and church in the home and kids are brought to Religious Ed but not to mass. Where is the outrage of this? We are told that we have a “shortage” of priests, but those who are diocesan priests have decided that humility, poverty and the like is not for them. Celibacy in this day and age is SMART not a sacrafice, giving up marriage isn’t anything more than what most of the population is doing; like the abortion issue, most of what I saw were people who wouldn’t be able to have an abortion and you wonder with all the teens and young people there, it is one thing to go on a tour trip with your friends and yet another to raise a child alone; it is in my opinion that people have to be careful about what they say they will “never” do. We see women who “regret their abortion” and we look at them with pity and forgiveness but can’t forgive the single mother who can’t make her baby stop crying in church! We are society that has broken not only our relationship with God, but we have given up the capacity to connect in any meaningful way with one another, even for many connecting with their own children. I work in the mental health field and everyday see families in crisis because the parent(s) just could not give up their own self to care for a child. Parents who themselves are broken. Children are put on drugs because they know the truth of their own family and bear the scars and yet we would rather have them drugged out and compliant — where is the march to stop unneeded perscription drugs to young children, especially those who find themselves in the foster care system? I tried to be open to the March for Life, after all I want that “good feeling” everyone seemed to be getting, but I just couldn’t find it. I did though, spend time with the poor and homeless that day, and each and every time I was treated with respect and dignity as they were asking for a dime! Experiences like this make me want to run away from the Church! But I love the eucharist, and so I will continue as a Catholic on the fringe.

    • Lorraine,
      Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience and some very personal details of your life. You are an inspiration to me and I am sure many others.
      Sincerely,
      Bill

    • Thank you for writing so courageously, Lorraine.

  69. I have been checking back here each night and really enjoying the conversation as well as the diversity of opinions AND diversity of people who have felt compelled to weigh in on this subject. I pray that such a rich and intense discussion will ultimately draw all of us closer to the “right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity” that St. Francis prayed for. On another blog, some comments were made questioning Holy Name Province in relation to this post. I absolutely love HNP, the friars, and their ministry. They are amazing. Anyone who knows them loves them. Br. Dan has been very forthcoming in asserting that what he has shared is his opinion, and he is totally entitled to it. There is nothing that he has written that warrants slamming his faith or his community. He has not contradicted any Church teaching, although I personally disagree with his logic. As Matthew has pointed out, we are blessed by his vocation and witness to the religious life. In closing, I also want to point out that Holy Name Province did have a presence at the March. Just because an individual friar calls it a “so-called march for life,” don’t assume he is speaking for all friars. Peace and All Good. http://www.hnp.org/publications/hnp_today_view.cfm?iid=192&aid=3960

  70. Br. Dan,

    i found your blog post insightful. As a pro-choice non-Catholic I learned some answers to questions that have puzzled me regarding the Catholic stance on abortion versus other so-called life issues such as capitol punishment. I admire the fact that as a Catholic cleric, you are willing to express your ideas and subject yourself to sometimes vitriolic criticism from those who disagree with your views regarding this event. So please consider me a fan and take my next comment in the spirit in which it is intended regarding the following statement in your post:

    “While the generational divide is usually traversed by a diverse representation of different ages and from idealistic youth and young adults to the more narrowly focused and opinion-concretized geriatric crowd…”

    Suppose one were to substitute the word “Catholic” for the word “geriatric”. Or, since the word “geriatric” might be considered demeaning or derogatory when referring to people over a certain age, perhaps we might even substitute some other more derogatory words that have been used against people of your faith. I won’t repeat them here. I assume that you get my drift. Indeed, there are some outside of your faith who do assume that Catholics are “narrowly focused and opinion-concretized’. Yet you give the lie to that prejudice, ironically enough, with your blog post. In conclusion, all I can say regarding your characterization of people over a certain age is WOW. As a supporter and a fan, I respectfully suggest that you examine your preconceived ideas regarding people who are older than you.

    • MJ,
      Thanks for your response as one who is of a generation much older than Bro Dan I appreciated your observation. However, I did respond earlier and, as a catholic, agreed with Dan’s comments.
      Bill T

  71. Alexandra Cloney Says:

    Reading your article, Dan, made me sad for you. Reading some of the comments made me ill. Like so many “pro-life” Roman Catholics, we do our very best to feed the poor, help them past their distress, oppose capital punishment, etc. Much of your piece seems to make sweeping generalizations – not alot of “tolerance” on your part.

    FIRST and foremost, IF we do not defend innocent life in the womb we have little, if any, credibility in the promotion of Catholic “social justice”. Your Point A seems petty and trivial. In Point B, you note “progress has not been made” – I beg to differ. Last month, the pro-life news was the shift in American opinion with regard to abortion. Point C should might have been lumped w/ Point A as it too, seemed immature and whiny.

    In conclusion, we must help the least among us (perhaps that is why Jesus told his disciples “You will always have the poor among you,”). But if we forsake the most helpless forms of human life whether in abortion or euthanasia, allowing the destruction of “others” becomes easier.

    • I don’t think that Dan is in support of Abortion in any way. Rather, as I read this, he is saying that he doesn’t support the strategy involved with so many in the pro-life movement who support GOP candidates who say they are “pro-life” while putting forth policies that are clearly not “pro-life;” – policies that support the rich and well connected while creating a culture of neglect/death toward all those who are most vulnerable and marginalized among us.

      Conversely – how can we be credible witnesses to prolife for those yet born while supporting legislators who make a Moloch of the unborn by stripping away any assistance whatsoever to prevent abortion or to help those children who already are here. Their policies almost seem to be a covert form of culling the weakest among us so as to decrease the surplus population thus saving money for their Corporate Satraps.

      We have made an Idol of Abortion over and above EVERY OTHER FORM of sin. Benedict XVI said we must revere/honor/support Life FROM conception TO natural death – NOT ESPECIAL BEFORE BIRTH then everything else as an afterthought when we get around to it – but ALL OF LIFE from beginning to end. I know this is hard to HARD to get around and may seem overwhelming and burdensome but we cannot remain credible and be myopic about this and remain a credible witness to the cause of the Pro-Life movement.

      Susan B. Anthony said that abortion is to be considered as Murder and the woman who commits to it should be found guilty as such, but THRICE GUILTY is the Man/Society that puts her in the place to consider such an act viable in the first place. When I see a track record of those who wave the prolife flag supporting candidates and policies that ACTUALLY prevent abortion and support ALL LIFE from conception until natural death, Socially, Economically and Environmentally, then I will be happy to offer my support. Until then it all rings as hallow, sectarian, misogynous and disingenuous to me as a clanging bell of GOP political partisanship…

  72. Excellent article. I am pro-choice, but this doesn’t mean I’m pro-abortion. I’m always baffled how the same people who rally and cry about the unforgivable evil of abortion because it takes ‘innocent’ life, are the same people who vote for war mongering, poverty causing politicians like Mitt Romney who even goes so far as saying, “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” What Christian in their right mind would even think voting for such ideals is following in Christ’s footsteps? They continually complain about their taxes and how they’re tired of supporting ‘welfare moms’ and illegals and other people they consider dredges on society that in their minds would better be off dead or permanently invisible. They don’t want to help the woman who can’t afford another child, yet support welfare cuts that don’t increase when a recipient has another child, and if they had it their way, would end welfare altogether. But she can’t get an abortion either. And if she needs medical care or job training or help in anyway, well, she’s just a mooch who needs to figure it out and quit being such a slut. She’s getting what she deserves.

    They don’t support letting these woman stay home and raising their kids at times when it’s critical for a child to have a parent, but then they don’t seem to understand why more and more kids and adults are ending up in prison, developing mental health issues and committing violence. It’s obviously the mother’s fault for not doing a better job. They should just make tougher laws and fund more and more prisons and more and more criminalizations.

    The social and economic gaps and injustices in this country are appalling and no one seems to care. All GOP supporters and these prolifers who carry signs and pat each other on the back about how awesome they are care about is playing the holier than thou card and stripping every safety net. Oh, except Medicare and Social Security. Because that’s a welfare program that they use, not like all those moochers and irresponsible people who need the *bad* kind of welfare. Life is only precious to them before birth. They do not care about women at all. Not one bit. After the baby is born, it becomes just another burden and unwanted drain on their precious tax dollars. Selfish and self-righteousness and hypocrisy in the highest form is all I see in a majority of the ‘pro-life’ movement. They are not followers of Christ and have caused me a great deal of conflict in my faith and considerations of how the various Christian leaders and churches deal with these complex issues. I feel I am an outsider for being liberal and a pacifist, which I have always considered and been guided to how to follow Christ as best you can.

    Sorry if I have vented off here, but this issues in particular drives me crazy as a woman and a Christian. I am tired of men in all aspects of society telling us that we are evil, telling us when and how we can save our own lives, dictating laws that demean and hurt us, and valuing our entire being and life by what goes on in our vaginas. I don’t remember Jesus ever saying that women are only valued as breeding vessels and the poor can just suck it.

    • In 1973, a devastating battle was lost. Roe v. Wade has condemned to death over fifty-four million innocent, unborn babies. Since that time, pro-lifers have become even more resolved in overturning this tragic ruling and restoring America to a culture of life. After nearly four decades, we have encouraging evidence that our efforts have not been in vain.

      Abortion rates have dropped by an estimated 25% since 1990 based on a report from the National Center for Health Statistics.
      A second consecutive national Gallup poll found that more American adults consider themselves pro-life; compared to a record low number of respondents who define themselves as “pro-choice.”
      Pro-life legislation, like parental involvement, waiting periods and required counseling, increased to record-breaking numbers in 2011. 2012 is not far behind with 39 such laws enacted so far this year.
      The number of abortion mills is on the decline. Having peaked in 1995, Planned Parenthood has closed an average of 12 facilities per year.

      These statistics are a testimony that more and more women are choosing life. Another telling sign is not reflected in numbers, but in words. Over the years, pro-abortion advocates have used lots of deceptive and manipulative language in promoting their cause. They have called abortion many things: “a woman’s choice,” “a reproductive right” and “a medical procedure.” Even the baby’s very life was demeaned and designated as “non-human” or “a clump of cells.” Roe v. Wade was essentially built on the false premise that abortion was not killing.

      Thankfully, times have changed. With advancements in technology, medicine and media, we have a wealth of information that clearly prove human life begins at fertilization. Ultrasound and now 4D ultrasounds have opened up a window to the miraculous development that takes place within the womb. Armed with these resources, the pro-abortion side has been forced to concede the fact that abortion kills a baby. In fact, they admit this in their own words:

      “In the beginning, they [pro-lifers] were calling it a baby. We were saying it was only blood and tissue. You don’t have to argue that abortion stops a beating heart. It does. I can’t say it’s just like an appendectomy. It isn’t. It’s a very powerful and loaded decision.” – Merle Hoffman, President of Choices Women’s Medical Center

      “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know abortion is killing.”– Faye Wattleton, the longest reigning president of Planned Parenthood

      “We can recognize that it is human life—but the point is not when does life begin, but when does it… begin to matter.” – Ann Furedi, BPAS director and England’s best-known abortionist

      “In the top drawer of my desk, I keep [a picture of my son] taken 24 weeks before he was born. The sonogram image is murky, but it reveals clear enough a small head tilted back slightly… the thumb extended out toward the mouth. There is no doubt in my mind that this picture shows [my son] at a very early stage in his physical development. And there is no question that the position I defend in this book entails that it would have been morally permissible to end his life at this point.” ­– David Boonin, author of A Defense of Abortion

      Clearly, it is disturbing to comprehend how someone can admit abortion is killing, yet still advocate that it continue unabated. However, with this acknowledgement, it becomes more difficult for abortionists to blindly victimize women into believing that abortion is nothing more than a medical procedure. Women’s eyes are being opened to the truth, and the truth is a powerful ambassador for life. While it is true we may have lost battles along the way, if we remain diligent, we will win the war and bring an end to abortion.

      For LIFE,

  73. Triangle Says:

    Why is there such jealousy over people who work to give attention to anti-abortion causes? Should we be jealous over people who spend a great deal of energy with the homeless or the care for the sick causes?We are all members of the body but with different charisms. As to your comments “Try something new if you are really serious about reducing or ending abortions.”, I speak for myself and many others that attend the March that we do spend a great deal of time and energy helping young mothers and seeing that they are provided for.This is not a one day mission. This is one day in the mission of helping women see the incredible gift that is given to them in the life of their child. This March is frankly a beautiful reminder of the freedom we have in this country to protest an unjust condition. I am sorry that Brother Dan seems jaded about that. Needless to say that you do lack charity in your comments “I will pray though, as I often do, for all those issues of life and human dignity that get left by the roadside as the marchers in DC parade to the Capitol, their Jerusalem. Perhaps, just maybe, a single Samaritan or even a few might be among the crowd and stop to pick up the ignored and forgotten and left-for-dead issues that continue to threaten life and human dignity in our world.” You go from not supporting the March to judgementally mocking the Marchers. We are capable of supporting many things at once even if you don’t see it.I believe I am done with this blog site.I wish you peace.

  74. Triangle Says:

    On the matter of good and evil i side with a person who was an expert on human dignity and serving the gospel of life . Mother Therese announced “I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion because it is a war on the child, a direct killing of innocent child – murder by the mother herself . If we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell poeple that they should not kill one another? … That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion?” Game.Set.Match

  75. […] this website alone (DatingGod.org), the post elicited 139 comments that express a variety of opinions. This week I have been asked by a number of people whether I […]

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