My new book, Why Catholics Are Right (McClelland & Stewart) has just been published. For those readers who are not Catholic, please know that this is in no way an attack on you. Some of the finest defenders of life I know are, for example, evangelical Protestants, who could also teach me a great deal about being a Christian. What should concern readers of The Interim is that one of the chapters in the book is entitled Catholics and Life, and I guarantee you that this one will provoke any number of people to anger. I write the following in the introduction to the chapter:
It’s the subject Catholics talk about a great deal and the one that they are criticized for talking about a great deal. In fact they criticized for being obsessed with the life issue, of being monomaniacs and single-issue extremists. Actually such criticisms are usually nothing more than digressions, or attempts to avoid the subject and dismiss the people discussing it. We talk about issues of life and sexuality because they matter. In a better world the subjects we’re about to discuss here would be embraced by everybody, but, the world being what it is, it’s left to Christians and to the Roman Catholic Church in particular to take a stand and to speak up for the most vulnerable of people – the unborn, the elderly, the ill and handicapped, the most marginalized of marginalized. Catholics believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death and we know that this belief runs directly and increasingly contrary to the drift of western society. Roman Catholicism is also inherently connected to, and an exponent of, natural law in that nature is God-given and the laws of nature are as immutable and real as are the laws of gravity. It is in no way surprising that the Church champions unborn children or those threatened by euthanasia because nature tells us when life begins and when it ends. There are also, however, Biblical references to the unborn – Psalm 139 has, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Job has “Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” and Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
But the Catholic defence is as much a moral and logical one based on science and on human rights as it is a religious or Scriptural argument. All rights are important but the most inalienable and the most fundamental is the right to life. In fact no right has any meaning unless it is underpinned by the most natural and essential right and that is, of course, the right to be allowed to be born. The argument is also about love, the love that increasingly dare not speak its name, the love for the unborn.
So there. It is a statement that many pro-lifers outside of the Roman Catholic Church could embrace, and what unites us is of course far greater, deeper and wider than what divides us. But what divides us from the world that does not yet appreciate the sanctity of life is a gulf that I sometimes believe may never be crossed. Let me offer an example – a comparison. When we fall in love as individuals, that love for another person cannot be felt by anybody else. I love my wife, love my children, in a way that nobody else will fully understand. For some obscure reason they love me – something hardly anyone can understand – and it is almost impossible to fully define and explain this love to people outside of the relationship.
It should not be so difficult and complex with the unborn, because this involves objective truth, and a more universal compassion; people are not merely disagreeing with pro-lifers, they simply will not listen to us. Abortion makes them uneasy. They would rather ignore it than deal with its obvious horror. So, I suppose, our vocation as pro-lifers is to teach the world how to love again. Teach a deaf and blind world how to care more for reality than reality television, and to weep for genuine dying babies instead of artificial characters on the screen. It’s going to be the most incredibly difficult task, but the love revolution has to break out, sooner or later. Perhaps the next book should be called Why Pro-Lifers Are Right. That would, too, be an act of love.
Michael Coren can be booked for speaking at www.michaelcoren.com.