This past week, we were blessed to be able to attend the March for Life in Springfield with our 7th and 8th grade students. It’s such an encouraging thing to see our younger generation gathered to support the pro-life effort and to decry the injustice of abortion. It’s such a critical issue, and unfortunately, as with many of the hot-button topics of our day, social media will give you a strong impression that people are significantly more supportive of certain ideologies than they actually are.

Our young people especially are falling victim to these ideologies—because as the culture shouts at them in their impressionable years (just watch any Netflix show or scroll through any TikTok or Instagram feed and you’ll see something being advocated that contradicts our Catholic faith and concept of the human person), they get the impression that these things are “normative,” and that we as a Church somehow just fell behind on the moral issues. If you look at the statistics, something like 56% of 18- to 29-year-olds argue that they are pro-life, although only 37% believe it should be legal under any circumstances, and only 51% believe it is “morally acceptable” (riddle me that one) [these numbers are from a Gallup poll published in 2018]. This is a problem! Someday, I truly believe that we will wake up to the atrocity that we as a society are advocating for and attempting to enshrine in law—the silent slaughter of now generations—and we will weep for how we as a society are capable of being so barbaric.

We as a Catholic Church must stand up for the unborn! The taking of innocent and defenseless human life is morally reprehensible—no matter the age and no matter how “legal” it becomes. But we must ask ourselves why it is that such a significant portion of our youth believe it is acceptable.

Chief among the reasons, I believe, is that there’s an inherent desire in young people to fit in and to be “up with the times.” This is why it’s important for us to gather at such things as the March for Life—so that our young people can see that there are other young people who care about this issue and who advocate for life in all its forms. But no doubt, there are other reasons. Immediately, most people advocating for the legal protection of abortion will argue that it’s a women’s rights issue. But we are a pro-woman Church. The great irony is that allowing woman to choose abortion freely and legally will only enslave them more, not free them. Why? Because when we separate the consequences of our actions from the actions themselves, enslavement ensues. It’s a false notion of freedom. Witnessing the trauma of post-abortive women proves that point. They do not experience freedom from having exerted their “choice;” they often experience only further guilt and suffering. If you have suffered the trauma of abortion, we as a Church have resources for you. Please, please remember that you are loved infinitely by God, and that nothing is unforgiveable. There is always healing in God’s mercy. Please come speak with me!

Many will argue from compassion. Again, people go straight to the most heart-wrenching cases, such as cases where a woman has had to suffer rape or incest. But these situations account for a vastly small proportion of abortions. And while they are injustices which without a doubt anger the Lord and MUST be decried as such, as they taught us in grade school, “two wrongs don’t make a right!” If a child is a child even in the womb, then we are not allowed to murder that child for the sake of the injustice already done. It’s that simple. And as unjust as that may seem to the woman who has had to suffer one injustice already, we must be confident in the Lord’s ability to bring healing to that person. Certainly, visiting another trauma upon her will not fix the issue.

Many argue that if we as a Church are so pro-life, then we should do more about helping mothers who are in troubled circumstances or to support these children when they leave the womb. This is yet another deflection from the real topic, but they are right. We should do more. We should actively work toward a world in which women feel supported to choose life—which is why the work of pregnancy centers, adoption services, and providing for real healthcare has always been both advocated and conducted by the Church. If we haven’t been as vocal as we should about these services, then we as a Church need to scream it from the rooftops: for those who struggle to support life in all its forms, we are here to help.

Some will inevitably say that the Church is hyper-focused on this one pro-life issue. Let me be clear: the Church is pro-life in every way, and she cares about the immigrant, the death-row convict, and the homeless refugee as much as every unborn child. But this issue is pre-eminent because of the numbers affected and the particular atrocity of how young and defenseless its victims are. We can and we must be outspoken about the other injustices as well—but it doesn’t mean we have to be less outspoken about abortion. Our pro-life stance as a Church is consistent across ages and races and cultures, even if particular individuals do not hold consistently to the pro-life ethic. Might we all realize how that causes scandal in our world, when we decide (publicly or privately) that we as a Catholic can pick and choose what to believe or what to hold as morally permissible. The only consistent witness to Truth is to be all-in. Our life of faith is demanding in that way, and that’s difficult. We all struggle to get to 100%…but the pay-off will be well worth it!

The issue of abortion comes down to one thing: are we as a society allowed to sanction murder? The answer, unequivocally, is no. And while we MUST as a Church try to understand with great compassion the circumstances of every man, woman, and child who desire to choose against that—the reason why abortion or any other life-opposing issue seems good to them—we also have a moral duty to decry the injustice of it, in every circumstance and always.

How do we begin to recover a respect for life? How do we stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves? It’s worth pondering. Lord, teach us how to love like You!

Keep spreading joy!

Fr. Friedel

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