Dear HLI Family,
This was not my first March for Life in the nation's capitol, but it was my first with Human Life International. And while I've seen the huge crowd before, I was struck again by the sheer numbers of young women, of families, of clergy and ministers of other faiths -- really of so many people of different backgrounds -- that it was hard not to be moved, and to be encouraged about the possibilities of making real progress in the defense of life and family.
Those who support the evil of abortion, for whatever reason, simply cannot gather the numbers - estimates ranged between three hundred and four hundred thousand - in defense of their position. But an even better indication of the future of the battle for life than sheer numbers is the spirit in which each side communicates and lives its message.
There was literally singing and dancing through the streets of Washington, D.C. on Monday. I saw people praying, locking arms and holding hands, bright smiles on faces - all the marks of those who are open to life and who, despite the ugliness of that which they are opposing, believe in a positive and peaceful message, who believe in love. And there were many thousands of children, of course!
Contrast this with a typical "pro-choice" march. I won't link here to videos, although they are easy enough to find online, of swarms of angry, defiant defenders of the status quo on abortion. The champions of "justice" and "progress" have staked their identities on defending an unjust 39-year-old decision. Sarcasm and obscenities are the norm in their scowling speeches, and children are rarely seen - thankfully - at such events.
The contrast between the two events, really between the two movements, could not be more stark. For me, I'll choose to march with those whose joy is palpable and who are truly optimistic about the future, and whose hope for the future is literally present in the form of children.
This is why we pray for those who are filled with hate. Those who see children as a threat to their plans for the future have, whether they know it or not, given up on the future, and given up on hope. We pray that their hearts and minds be opened to love and to truth, to Him who is Love and Truth.
A movement that has no love and no truth is unsustainable. Our opponents in this struggle cannot communicate their message with love or with truth. They have to distort the meaning of "rights" to pretend to have a moral basis for their claims, as if there were a right to take another person's life in order to live one's own. They and their enablers in the mainstream media have to ignore or downplay the annual march, or intentionally distort the numbers of those present from each side.
They also have to deny inconvenient facts. Increasingly, the supporters of abortion say that science has nothing to do with the question of when human life begins. But that's not what embryologists, the scientists who study the biological beginnings of human life, believe. As far as science is concerned, it is actually quite clear when life begins. We who defend life simply believe that every human being - whether she is a blastocyst, a zygote, a toddler, a teenager or an embryologist - deserves the life she already enjoys. Indeed, without this right any other "choice" is impossible.
Love and truth are both essential, and they must be our guiding principles whether we are marching, praying outside a clinic, making a sophisticated argument about the beginning of human life, or simply sharing our beliefs with someone who disagrees with us. In Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI points us to the Gospel of John for the principle that must inform our pro-life efforts, and in fact, everything we do:
"If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 Jn 4:20).
Those who love God do not have a choice about whether or not they can love even those who are most difficult to love. If we do not love them, we do not love Him. This does not mean that we love what they do, or are simply "nice" in the face of injustice and untruth. This would not be love at all.
Even if those who disagree with us demonstrate obvious hatred and irrationality -- that is, if they suffer from a severe lack of love and truth -- we still have to love, and we still have to be truthful, even with them. Our Lord knows how difficult this is for us, but in His great generosity and love He gives us what we need to form our hearts and minds in love and truth. In Holy Scripture, the Sacraments, in the examples of the saints and the teaching of His Church, we have a wealth of means to form ourselves for the difficult and necessary work of building a Culture of Life.
He also, on occasion, gives us a few hundred thousand fellow witnesses in love and truth on a cold, rainy day, singing and dancing through the corridors of power, persisting in a movement to defend the weakest among us.
How generous is Our Lord and Savior?
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International