Pro-life concerns include anything that promotes the dignity of men and women created by God in His image. To transgress life, in any form, is to disobey God and to blemish His presence within us.
Paragraph 27 of the “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” propagated by Pope Paul VI in 1965 towards the end of Vatican II, enumerates the many sins that violate the sanctity of life. “Whatever is opposed to life itself,” the Constitution reads, “such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction…” are pro-life issues.
The Constitution, however, does not stop there in defining violations against human life. It continues; “whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself.
“Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons…”
The Constitution decries all these “infamies” that “poison” society. Doing “more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator,” the Constitution says.
In carrying out our defense of life in all its manifestations, we must do so with charity. Christ requires us to love every neighbor.
As we do all in our power to protect the innocent child in the mother’s womb, we cannot deny the mandate of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we love even our enemy. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:43-48)
Love in this sense wants the good of the other. We decry the actions of those involved in abortion or other crimes against life, but we cannot ignore their dignity as a child of God whom we want to find their way to the truth about life.
The a danger of being so focused on eradicating evil in the world is that we can resort to measures that cause us to lose our own moral compass. The road that Jesus taught may not the most expedient. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mt 16:26) What point is there to eradicate evil and lose our own dignity, what good have we gained?
Dignity is a word we must keep in the forefront in our struggle for life. It is necessary in order to rebuild our society.
As we continue to stand up for life, whether in the political, social or personal realm, with family or community, at abortion clinics or at meetings, we cannot afford a spirit of anger or condemnation. What people see in our faces and can trace in our actions should not be anger but love calling all people to discover their own dignity.
This forgiving and loving approach in no way renders us as pro-life advocates indifferent to evil, but calls us to distinguish between the error and the person in error. God alone is the judge and searcher of hearts.
Let me offer four suggestions for fostering a spirit of love and forgiveness in the struggle to restore the sanctity of life.
First, is interior silence. Take time to pray. Take time to listen in prayer. Prayer is where our freedom and the law of God meet. Turn off the motors, even of our cause. Find time to be quiet and let the Other speak.
The second suggestion is love. We are called not but to love. Let us always seek the good in everyone.
Develop a spirit of forgiveness. It will always be hard to forgive someone who promotes evil, but we must let mercy reign in our hearts.
Finally, pay attention to the family. Many of the ills in our society are the result of the unraveling of family life. Build up the family. Take time together.
These will reach the unborn.