It was not the “pro-African-American movement,” it was the “anti-slavery movement;” the messages have not been “pro-sober driving” or “pro-clean air,” but “anti-drinking and driving” and “anti-smoking.” For too long, many of our pamphlets have been whimsical pastels and dissembling language. We are “anti-abortion” and that’s how we should identify ourselves.
Though most of us who are opposed to abortion are conservative Catholics and Christians, we have acted more like our liberal brethren who espouse Christianity without the Cross, as we have sought to fight abortion without naming the evil. Our secret hope has been for a painless social evolution toward the “pro-life” position. The world will grow weary of a selfish, joyless, childless culture and with our help, rediscover the goodness and joy of “pro-life culture.” But this strategy has been motivated more by our own fears than by clear thinking and a desire to stop abortion.
Among the charisms listed by Paul was prophet, and like it or not, that is our role, too. Prophets give the unvarnished truth and most of the time, are not well-received.
The first principle of all living things, from the lowly amoeba to the human person made in the image of God, is self-preservation. None of us want to be persecuted or martyred. All of us want to enjoy the delights of life and be liked. And, unlike every other living thing, we humans know that we are mortal, we know that we are born to die and so we can die a thousand deaths in fear and trembling. But as Christians, we know that suffering and death are not futile and tragic, but the means to self-overcoming and union with Christ.
U.S. president Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural spoke of the blood of the Civil War as the necessary price for the sin of slavery. At some level, all of us know that justice demands its price and that prophets must pay. Tertullian said “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” summarizing an economy of salvation we would rather not see. But other ages have modelled a spiritual robustness we might imitate. St. Philip Neri would greet seminarians at the English College in Rome with the phrase salvete flores martyrum – “hail flowers of martyrs.” Flowers, of course, soon fade and go to seed. In this case, the seed of the church. What a bracing greeting.
We are, because others have been great. We too must recognize that we are here, in what was not long ago a Christian culture, because our forebears had been great. Their blood has been the seed from which we have grown and flowered. And justice and nature both demand that we too seed the ground. On this point, the cold, hard logic of our struggle against abortion is irrefutable: 100,000 unborn Canadians a year are not, because we have not been great.
Because we are alive, we are animated by the biological imperative to live. Because we are self-aware, we know we are mortal and that we will die. And because we are Christians living in the age of abortion, we know we are called to imitate Christ who was nailed to a cross for us.
We must start by speaking plainly as the prophets spoke plainly, for a jeremiad that does not have the courage to name the sin does not deserve victory. We are anti-abortion. Further, we must say what abortion is. Abortion is the killing of innocent children. Abortion is murder. We must also show what abortion is. We must show pictures of aborted babies. And we must show those pictures wherever abortions are committed, paid for or tacitly or implicitly supported, which is everywhere, since our tax dollars pay for abortions.
What will come next, we cannot know. Perhaps it will be a bloodless coup, like the fall of the Berlin Wall and Soviet communism. Or perhaps it will be a persecution that will seed the ground for the church, which is the Kingdom of God on earth. Say you are anti-abortion. Say abortion is murder. And show pictures of murdered aborted babies. It’s what we’re called to do as Christians. It’s that simple.
Joe Bissonnette is a religion teacher at Assumption College School in Brantford, Ont. You can join Joe in showing pictures of murdered babies by participating in Show the Truth, July 12-16 in Kitchener, Cambridge, and Waterloo, Ont and August 9-13 in Toronto. You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.