I Will Not Be Joining the New Pro-Life Movement Anytime Soon

I will not be jumping on the New Pro-Life Movement bandwagon anytime soon. Mainly because I find the constant bandwagons of the Catholic blogosphere tiresome and intentionally divisive. I have studied moral theology and Catholic Social Teaching in-depth. The two are intimately linked with the dignity of the human person grounding all other aspects of her teaching. That means the right to life holds supremacy and we work from there to achieve the common good through the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. There is a hierarchy and “seamless garment” arguments only work if the dignity of the human person is at the top of everything else.

Like most movements like this, it seems to be predicated largely upon straw men. The idea that the Republican Party is evil (of course it is, it is run by Fallen men, sin is a part of secular institutions just like the Church. The only thing that keeps the Church from collapsing under the weight of our sins is the Holy Spirit sent by the Glorified Christ) and the folks in the movement clearly support the sacrilege of someone like Fr. Pavone fuels their arguments. Never mind that there are fringes of all movements both inside and outside of the Church.

In reality, a great many of us left the Republican Party years ago sensing the immorality of both parties and decided to begin truly living CST and our mission–as explained in Christifideles Laici–on the ground rather than relying on an immoral and corrupt system in need of major change. We can only change the system from the ground up and that means evangelization, charity, and sacrifice. In-fighting doesn’t accomplish much at the ground level.

What many of these folks forget is that in bringing the Culture of Life to the world, God calls people to different missions under that umbrella. We cannot be stretched across the vast deep that is the Culture of Life. For instance, I have had four miscarriages and suffer from secondary infertility. I understand the gift of motherhood at an ontological level in a way many do not. I know what it is like to lose a child, four children. I also study philosophy and theology, so I can swim deep into the reality of motherhood, as a gift from God, and share it with others. God called me directly to the abortion fight, much like he calls others to slow the tide of euthanasia or other “medical” issues, soup kitchens, refugee ministries, inner city programs, prison ministry, etc.

The idea that those working against abortion–and are in need of saving from more “enlightened” Catholics–do not live CST is a straw man at best and malicious at worst. Our community lives the four pillars of Catholic social teaching by praying in front of PP in order to share the dignity of the human person made imago Dei with everyone. When someone comes into our care (whether a pregnant woman, boyfriend/husband, child, or abortion worker), we employ the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity with an eye on the common good by coming together to find these men and women work (many in our own businesses), medical assistance, childcare, adoption options, education programs, baby and needed items for living, food, financial assistance for debts, bills, or other issues, working with women newly out of prison, friendship and community to those from broken families with poor social networks, and any other need that arises well after the child is born.

I myself am in the middle of walking a journey with a mother who has the same due date that I would have had if Andrew had not died. Yeah, hardcore entering into the Cross and offering it up. I do it regardless of the pain and continue to do it through a lot of tears, but that is what Christ asks us to do. Self-sacrifice. Bloviating in social media does not equate to entering into the suffering of the poor, lonely, and struggling within our communities. And the figureheads of a movement do not automatically point to reality on the ground. I am also a writer, but I am under no illusions that my writing equates to works of mercy.

The idea that the pro-life movement on the ground is out of touch with CST is utter bunk. Many of us help the homeless, do prison ministry, and help in other ways as time allows us outside of the mission given to us by God. We can’t do everything and others have been called to work in different areas of poverty. We have an extensive Haiti mission in our church that I would love to join, but God has called me where He has called me. I see poverty up close and personal with my service to single mothers. Most of these women come from broken and dysfunctional homes, so the healing of marriage is essential, since CST goes from the individual to the family to the local community on up to the federal government and international community. That’s subsidiarity. We are trying, and failing at times, to be the hands and feet of Christ within our communities. I will happily continue to do work in the pro-life movement as we live it here in solidarity and I will continue to study and pray with the Church’s social encyclicals, documents, and the Compendium of Catholic Social Teaching.

6 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Ellen Kolb and commented:
    Swimming the Depths gives Catholic activists something to think about here: what is it to be pro-life – or rather pro-life enough? “…the right to life holds supremacy and we work from there to achieve the common good through the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. There is a hierarchy and ‘seamless garment’ arguments only work if the dignity of the human person is at the top of everything else.”

  2. Will someone please explain what you mean by “the sacrilege of someone like Fr Pavone”, to me.
    I thought he was a good guy, with approval of St. john Paul the Great, and Mother Teresa. Is there
    a problem with him or his work? I am confused!

    1. He put an aborted baby on the altar and took pictures for garnering political support for Trump. He is now being investigated by his Bishop. To put anything but the Eucharistic sacrifice on the altar, especially in such a manner, is sacrilege. I am afraid Fr. Pavone has become an ideologue.

      1. OH my! That is always a no-no and to do it for political gain is always bad. I certainly had
        not heard of this, really too bad. I had always enjoyed Fr Pavone for his work and message
        but this IS too much. I will await word from his bishop before continuing my support of his
        works. Thanks much for your quick reply, Constance! I am a faithful reader of your blog
        and appreciate you greatly. Always praying for your intentions!

        Deb
        P.S. we are adoptive parents of a boy and girl, now in their thirties, truly gifts of God, even
        the money for the second adoption, then “only” $6,000+. We had a wonderful
        life with them! May God continue to bless them!

  3. Liz McDermott · · Reply

    I, too am (kind of) involved with the pro-life movement in Ireland, mostly because I have a disabled child whose life has opened me to God’s love and presence in my life in a way that never would have happened without him. (God always knows what we need in order finally to seek Him). I dislike the divisiveness that can creep into pro-life advocacy. However, I do think it’s difficult to avoid because of the seriousness of the issue, literally life and death. Our Blessed Lord did not tell us to avoid getting into arguments and trouble in life, quite the opposite; He talked of His coming to dividing families into those who would be for Him and those against; the abortion issue is a prime example of this. Therefore, I must say that, while Fr Pavone may have overdone things in his zeal to put abortion high up on the electoral priority list, I would not wish to label him an ideologue, nor to discount or discredit the tireless work he has done for the pro-life cause. We can often be more tolerant and forgiving towards our opponents than of those on our own team so I would suggest we pray for Fr Pavone and not add fuel to the flames of criticism for an act which, on reflection, he may have come to regret. We must be as charitable with those we are close to as we are towards those who oppose us.

    1. I think we will have to agree to disagree. The Church forbids items outside of the Eucharistic sacrifice to go on the altar. He chose to use the altar on which Our Lord is consecrated for us as true food, in a political stunt. Any priest who violates his duties as a priest for a political stunt has turned into an ideologue. It’s very unfortunate, because far too many of us–myself included in the past–can become blinded by an ideology that we place before what the Church actually teaches and what Christ is calling us to in our lives. There are lines we are not to cross.

      I see how destructive ideology is on social media. I am heavily involved in the pro-life movement, but I won’t be donating to Priests for Life until there is a move back to the Gospel and not Republican Party politics. I am neither Republican, nor Democrat, by the way. I will pray for Fr. Pavone, but I will not overlook that he stepped over the line as a Catholic priest. We are Catholic first. Our politics are well down the line, and while the pro-life cause may have a political side to it, it is far from only a political issue. It is a moral and spiritual issue and we have an obligation to engage in the spiritual warfare necessary without crossing lines. We do not overlook the wrong that people do simply because they are on “our” side, in fact, we become hypocrites when we do so and it is something that I have come to dislike greatly as we wage this battle. We are ineffective if we are not honest and contrite about our mistakes. Far too many Catholics in this country have fallen for the lie of ideology. It is necessary to point it out so that we can be effective in our battle against the culture of death. Pro-life transcends politics. It goes to the heart of what it means to be human. When me turn it into a political stunt, we’ve lost our center and the higher ground. Pax.

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