The strategy called Operation Rescue has been with Canadians for six months.  In future issues The Interim will discuss some of its features such as civil disobedience, non-violence and lawbreaking.  But the moment, we note that Operation Rescue’s purpose is political and its method religious.

Rescuers point to the American civil rights movement of the sixties as a forerunner.  Like pre-born babies today, black people were not recognized as persons.  Slaves had no rights; only persons have rights.  When after 100 years black people seemed little better off than their forefathers, an indignant public opinion helped destroy racism in the U.S> in principle, if not always in fact.

The civil rights movement was very much the result of a religious conscience.  This had been newly awakened by the battle against an even more true racism in Europe which took a world war to extinguish.  This systematic racism also denied the personhood of its victims by designating them “sub-humans.”

Today, history is repeating itself.  Rather than move toward the elimination of injustice, contemporary society is once again denying the personhood of another class of human beings.

Until the sixties, abortion was considered an offense against God and man.  Though the law did not recognize the pre-born as persons, it certainly viewed their deliberate death as a crime.  Indeed, even when Canada’s parliament usurped divine right in 1969 and “legalized” abortion, it still spoke of permitting exceptions to a crime.

The fact that the killing of the pre-born was “legalized” at all id sue to the sudden dominance of the spirit of secularism.  Now wherever secularism spreads, the assault of human rights and human dignity begins.

While Operation Rescue means to effect political change toward legal safeguards for the pre-born, it method is religious.  This is as it should be.  Unless Operation Rescue is rooted in religion, it will not be effective.

The Christians among the rescuers – and almost all of them are – have as their model the patient Christ, God and man, who freely allowed Himself to be led to the slaughter like a gentle lamb (Jer. 11.19), to free us from the slavery of sin (Jn. 1.29).  His enduring was more than a passive endurance; it was a loving acceptance sustained by the knowledge of His resurrection.

Obedience to God, said the Second Vatican Council, strengthens liberty (Lumen Gentium, 43).  Rescuers act out of obedience to God.  Such obedience is the great support of human freedom and dignity.  It defends against passions from within and wickedness from without, against the slavery of sin and against the slavery to the whims of the world.

The more deeply religious Operation Rescue becomes, the more effective it will be, and the more people will join it in spirit and prayer.  It is this that will convert the hard of heart.