It was Abraham Lincoln who gave posterity the famous saying, “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.” If he had said “please” instead of “fool” it would be just as true – in fact more so.
I have never tried to please all the people all the time and I don’t intend to start now. But I was both interested and amused at the reactions to my locking the gate of the abortion clinic.
I have received – both verbally and in writing – such accolades as, “It is great to see our priests showing leadership” and “if everybody had your courage that ‘so-and-so’ clinic would have been closed long ago.
But these laudatory statements were balanced by others of a derogatory kind such as, “It is nearly time you got sense,” or “It is a bad example for ministers of religion to break the law,” and, “I admire your courage but you have no right to interfere with private property.”
Obligation to challenge
When remarks are complimentary I try to look modest – which I find almost impossible – and attempt to change the subject, hoping that I will not succeed. But when they are otherwise, I feel an obligation to challenge them.
I usually begin with a question such as “Suppose you saw a six year-old child being carried into a house and knew for certain – or at least suspected – that he or she was going to be murdered, what would you do? Would you decide that you couldn’t do anything because it was private property? Would you decide that if the parents of the child wanted him or her murdered, it was their business and not yours? Or would you feel that it was improper to impose your moral values on the murderers inside, who are being handsomely paid for doing the murders and, therefore, felt it was morally defensible to take the life of an innocent child?”
There’s no difference
When people who claim to be Christians and particularly if they are Catholics, who have such clear teaching from their Church, try to tell me that there is a difference – in principle – between murdering a six-year-old child and murdering an unborn baby, I must admit that my patience begins to wear thin.
Since the breaking of the genetic code – in the nineteen fifties – there is no doubt in the minds of honest scientists – please note the adjective – that human life begins at conception. Therefore, abortion is murder just as surely as the killing of a six-year-old child or an eighty-year-old person. Euphemistic terms do not change moral facts!
I was listening to a pro-life tape the other day and the speaker – who has been in court also in the U.S. for entering an abortion clinic – made what I have been trying to say clearer. He asked, “Suppose you were passing a private house and you saw a man or a woman drowning their baby in the swimming pool, would you just pass by because there was a notice saying, ‘Private Property, No Trespassing!’ Suppose you were called to court as a witness and were asked by the judge, “Why did you not try to save the child?” How would you feel if your only reply was, “I could not bring myself to break the law against trespassing!”
I know I should feel bitterly ashamed and a miserable coward.
If we can rush into a private house to save a baby from death by drowning, why can’t we rush in to save one from being murdered? I can’t see a difference.
The other day somebody asked me, “But are you really prepared to go to jail?” I think I was supposed to say, “Oh well, there are limits somewhere.” However, my reply seemed to shock him. I said, “If I knew that the sentence for locking that gate was public hanging, I still would have locked it – and I shall lock it again.”
In good company
Far greater men that I have languished in jail for far lesser causes – Cardinal Stepinac of Yugoslavia, Cardinal Mindsenty of Hungary, Cardinal Beran of Czechoslovakia – all in my lifetime. Nobler men and women than I shall ever be, have made the supreme sacrifice in defence of their convictions – starting on Calvary.
In our own day, Archbishop Romero of El Salvador was slain at the altar for just one reason – he would not be silenced by threats.
And so, I am not ashamed of the historical company in which I find myself. Nobody will convince me that there is a more important issue than the daily murder of our unborn children. The saving of those lives in itself of paramount importance. But that is not all. Abortion destroys the very fiber of a nation. It is the most shocking degradation of womanhood and motherhood. A society that condones abortion – as ours is doing – is a society that has lost its will to live.