By Randy Sly
Several years ago I stood with some friends on the Edmund-Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL as we reflected on an event that occurred on March 7, 1965. On that day Martin Luther King led 600 marchers across the bridge on their way to Montgomery, the state capitol. Alabama State Troopers and Selma police were waiting for them.Orders had been given by Governor George Wallace to stop the march at any cost, so they were attacked with bullwhips, nightsticks and tear gas as they attempted to cross.
While attending the March for Life on Thursday, January 22, I began to think about the future of the pro-life movement. We now have a President and Congress in lock step with regard to abortion. As late as yesterday, statements coming from branches of government indicated they are not backing down.
So where is the pro-life movement heading? Now, I am not a Randall Terry or a Fr. Frank Pavone, in terms of giving my energies wholly and completely to Life. I am, however, passionate in my pro-life convictions and active in putting feet to my faith. That being said, permit me to offer one person’s portrait of our pro-life future.
1. The pro-life movement will be re-emphasizing prayer.
We have never stopped praying for the cause of life. It is a constant and consistent discipline for many Christians – Catholic and Protestant – on behalf of those who have no voice.This vigil of prayer must be extended to the millions of complacent believers who have given lip service to their belief and infrequent visits to the cause of life. The last eight years of a pro-life presidency and a congress unable to enact pro-choice legislation has given birth, I’m afraid, to a lethargy on the part of many.
Those days are over. We are now living in a country where our government is openly and aggressively on the side of killing children in the womb. We cannot look at our elected officials for resolution. We must now adopt all the weapons of spiritual warfare, where prayers are offered on behalf of those officials that hearts will be changed and rulings overturned.
This is the time to take seriously praying the Rosary, observing Novenas, praying in our masses daily and on Sunday for life issues, and initiating our own daily discipline of personal prayer on behalf of the unborn and for the conversion of our society from a culture of death to a cutlure of life. Should we even see the overturning of Roe vs Wade, we must still see the turning of hearts in society for the lives of the unborn for true protection.
2. The pro-life movement will be writing powerful and compelling messages.
Apologists, activists and theologians are being stirred as never before. In this world of social networking and instant communication, work in the area of life will take on a level of activity as never before. These messages will be built upon the bedrock of truth and crafted logically in a rhetoric that cannot be refuted. Passion is again coursing through the veins of many, some whose words had impact in the past and others who are just now on the horizon.
I also believe that the pro-life message will be heralded in our culture through new avenues. Movies, like Bella, can challenge hearts and convictions. Music and media should also be used. Creativity must be unleashed for the cause of Christ and those whom he loves, “from the womb to the tomb.” On January 23, 2009 the Holy Father encouraged the church regarding the use of new media, saying, “These technologies are truly a gift to humanity and we must endeavor to ensure that the benefits they offer are put at the service of all human individuals and communities, especially those who are most disadvantaged and vulnerable.”
3. The pro-life movement will be returning to the streets.
While we have maintained our sidewalk counseling vigil at abortion clinics and held such powerful events at the Liturgy for the Pre-born at the Time of Death, we are very likely to see strong public demonstrations that will take courage and conviction on the part of those standing for life.For those of us who remember the days of Operation Rescue in the late 80’s and early 90’s, those days will be returning. We may have our own bridges, like the Edmund-Pettus, to cross and there may be some suffering involved.
During the March, Randall Terry stated that we must look at the templates of past social revolutions. Slavery was wrong. Child labor was wrong. Segregation was wrong. All of them, however, required sacrifice for change. This may very well become our template for future strategy and action. In the opening event for the March for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life, issued a call for stronger resolution regarding the issues that we are upholding as well as a strong challenge for more Christians to take up the cause of Life
4. The pro-life movement will still be relying on the Church
The success or failure of the cause of life does not rest in the hands of the few who can argue before the Supreme Court, lobby the halls of congress or arouse the crowds on the National Mall. The future lies with the Church and those who dwell within her embrace. This is a time for the composite action of Christians, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, who rise up and march together.
Is Life the only cause of Christ? Surely not. Is Life one of his important causes? Absolutely. In fact, it is the foundation for every human rights and social justice concern. Personhood is at the center of the gospel. As the all-familiar words of St. John from Holy Scripture declare, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
We must stand strong and visible for the personhood of all humanity whether they dwell in the womb or in a petri dish. We must stand with those in nursing homes and hospitals whose lives could be arbitrarily declared worthless.I personally believe the call is clear and unmistakable. God is stirring His Church and raising up an army for apologetics and action. Now is not the time to lift our hands in surrender but supplication, and ask the Lord of Life to show us our place in His work for such a time as this.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor and Home and Family Editor for Catholic Online.