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The Modern Pro-Life Movement

The Difference Between The 80's and Now

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was being able to witness the way the pro-life movement has changed over the past two decades.  My mom and dad first got involved in the movement during “Project Jericho”.  The entire thing (as a matter of fact, the entire pro-life presence in America) was led mostly by Protestants.  If you’ve ever seen films of anti-war sit-ins and protests during the 60’s, then you’ve seen how it all went with us in the 80’s.

As Catholics, it was a bit embarrassing.  All these Protestant ministers and lay members were shaking the ground.  Our church, on the other hand, was silent.  Every now and then a Bishop might release a statement, but that felt more like a slap in the face than anything else.

My mother had been to jail quite a few times for protesting, my sister had been in jail twice, and most of my aunts had been arrested.  I myself was too young to participate in some of the protests, but I can remember how irritating it was when our local bishop (who seemed to be purposely tearing the Catholic Community apart with his liberal agendas) got honors for his strong stance against abortion by showing up one day to pray the rosary in front of an abortion clinic.

One rosary (or some would say, one photo-op).  That’s it.  He wouldn’t set any priests to work on the problem.  He wouldn’t bless any of the real efforts being made to fight the culture of death in our city.  His entire legacy is one of scandal (that’s another story).

I know our city was not alone in this.  All across the country, the silence of the Church was deafening.  And now, we see the fruits of it.  The culture of death has grabbed our society by the throat and is choking the life out of it.

The Protestant ministers who led our local group dropped out, one by one.  Some of them lost interest.  Some of them were scandalized and kind of went into hiding.  Some of them hung in there, but lost fuel.  And a number of them became Catholic.

Still, the Church was silent.

Now look what’s happening.  A large number of bishops and priests are waking up.  The scandal at Notre Dame was a big calling, and people are beginning to fall off the fence where they’ve been trying to safely maintain their neutrality.  In short, the line is forming, and people are gathering on one side or another.

I can confidently say that if the American bishops had taken a more active approach sooner, we wouldn’t be nearly so far behind in the game.  We wouldn’t have had to try to convince Catholics that voting for Obama is a mistake, and we wouldn’t have to tell Catholics that they might have sinned by voting for a pro-death agenda.

But yet, the movement is once again picking up some momentum.  All across the country, rosary marches are forming, and abortion mills are being shut down.

That is the difference I’m seeing.  When the Church finally takes an official stand, we start to get results—something I never saw in the early movement.  The protests aren’t as loud.  The people aren’t reading about it in the morning news.  There are no reports of bombings or other violent acts.  But the results are real.

A lot of pro-lifers have been waiting for this historical period.  A lot of them were beginning to lose hope that the American Catholic Church would ever come around to the right side of thinking.  But it IS happening.

If your parish isn’t tasking part, approach your pastor.  It doesn’t always have to be fancy.  Perhaps one Mass per week offered to promote the culture of life.  Perhaps one rosary per week.  Anything is better than nothing.

Remember, the lines are being drawn now.  We can’t allow people to stand in the center any more.