Monday, January 11, 2010

REFLECTIONS ON THE MARCH FOR LIFE 2008

By Rev. Fr. David G. Subu The Veil February 2008, reprinted in Solia: The Herald March 2008
This year I again attended the annual March for Life on the Mall, on January 22nd. It was very heartening to see so many people, a “multitude that could not be counted.” Estimates range over 100,000 marchers. Maybe double even that, and I wouldn’t be surprised. I could see neither a beginning nor an end to the crowd anywhere.
What was also beautiful was the vast number of young people, teens and college students, which perhaps made up at least half the group. I’m encouraged by them because they are learning early on and in greater and greater number that abortion is no real choice at all, but a systematic failure of society to provide for and protect its most vulnerable, both children and parents. They understand that this choice is pushed upon them by a culture that does not really wish to face the consequences of its own sinfulness, a society that does not want to deal with their “little problem,” and provide real alternatives.
Perhaps they are so much more aware now than my generation was at that age because now it is no longer a theoretical debate on the ethics of the issue. Now we have the stark reality of 43 million+ abortions effected in this nation alone, countless men and women wounded, “aborted” mothers and fathers who now know the truth, who have felt the pain and hopelessness of their “choice,” and aren’t afraid to talk about it. Instead of building generations of responsible, ethical young adults, we’ve actually increased their irresponsibility, immorality, and irreverence for life. And many of them, in the innocence of youth, are disgusted with us for it. Good for them!
I was also humbled by our small Orthodox contingent, miniscule in comparison to the Roman Catholic juggernaut that dominates the pro-life movement. I was bemused by what they must all think when our all-too-small cadre of bishops get up on the stage in their impressive black robes and kamilavki (hats) like some medieval clerical Mafiosi. We cannot compete with the fire of the AME pastor, the salt of the Brooklyn Rabbi Levin, the masses of the Catholics, and the blare of the contemporary Christian singers. But I am glad we are there, as foolish as we seem and sometimes even feel. But I also wish more of us were there.
You know that I, as your priest, in comparison to some, do not make many political pronouncements. It is not because I am not convinced or convicted of any ideals, but rather perhaps because I respect that each of you may or may not be as well. I consider carefully my position as your pastor. While I know for myself, I am a pro-lifer, and that pretty much certain positions are a deal-breaker for my being able to vote for certain candidates, I would never tell you that you cannot consider yourself a Christian because of your political views or whom you wish to vote for.
None of those who serve have clean hands, and even our most pro-life leaders often make unsavory compromises. I always remember St. Constantine the Great, who nevertheless because of the duties of state and the moral burden of his actions as ruler, chose to forestall baptism until the end of his life. Yet he is a saint. For these reasons I am unashamed to confess that I am a diehard independent, and that my vote will always have to be earned. I encourage you all to approach things the same way!
At the same time, I refuse to be told that a priest should keep his nose out of things, and that his job is only to teach spiritual things, and leave the earthly to the rest. I would not be much of a shepherd if, when I saw the wolves and the snakes bearing down, I didn’t stop and stand and warn all of you, the flock entrusted to me.
So I offer my reflections to you in the hopes of inspiring a bit of a pro-life worldview in you, that you might hold accountable not only those whom our country elects to office but also yourself in all the ways of your conduct. To be truly pro-life is not just about those for whom we vote, though it really cannot be separated from it.
To be pro-life is to hold an entire worldview that sees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as gifts from our Creator to be cherished and protected for all. It means taking some personal responsibility to create a more compassionate and, yes, Christian world in which sinners can find forgiveness and assistance in healing from abortion, also supporting our terrified and unprepared mothers and fathers (for whether they know it or not, this what they are as soon as conception occurs) so that they do not commit to abortion and live for fear.
It also means defending the elderly and the infirm, the terminally ill, the disabled, and children not just with lips but with loving presence, visitation, acts of charity performed with hands and hugs and smiles and not just checkbooks. It means being able to accept the sin in our own families and not trying to make our children appear as above the reality of pre-marital indiscretions. Remembering that 25% or so of abortions are for married women past their early 20’s, we need to give the encouragement to our peers be pro-family and even pro-big-family, being mindful of what is happening in Europe where birth rates have declined so much that western civilization has with them.
Let us stand up for some “truth in advertising.” Let us not allow any politicians to tell us that they can be against the ban on partial birth abortion “because there was no exception for the health of the mother,” when we already know that there is no medically necessary instance in which this horrific procedure occurs. Let’s call pandering to the abortion industry and its powerful lobby for what it is.
Let us also stop the lie that being against embryonic stem cell research and human cloning is callous and insensitive to those with incurable disease, when not a single effective treatment has come out of that type of research for 20 years—compared with hundreds to arise from the use of more stable and perfectly ethical research with adult stem cells. (Follow the money and you’ll see what it’s really about.)
Let us stop the lie that being pro-choice helps our nation’s poor black families, for African-Americans babies are aborted twice as often as others, and the community has actually disintegrated farther since Roe v. Wade. Let’s instead see some real welfare reform and some real immigration enforcement so there can be stable jobs and stable families in those hurting communities.
Let us stop the abhorrent, eugenic lie that aborting children with disorders like Down’s syndrome is doing them some kind of favor, and that somehow, the very rare situations like these justify keeping abortion legal on demand during all nine months of pregnancy in all 50 states.
Let us stop turning a blind eye when our government makes deals with other nations whose pro-life and human rights records are even more grievous than ours in the name of diplomacy and making America strong. Only one power can make any nation stand. If we renounce Him, we are lost. The crass and callous spirit of our age that fuels the abortion industry has equal representation on both sides of the aisle, just as it is equally present in us if we do not repent now and change our world from the inside out.
To be pro-life means a lot more than for whom you vote. It also means what you stand for and what you expect from yourself, your family, your community, your nation. I hope all of you will consider rethinking your worldview, whether conservative or liberal or otherwise in politics, and start making a difference, so that eventually, there will be no more need for a March for Life.

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