This past weekend I was with my friends who put together the “Value Voters” summit in Washington DC, which gained a lot of media attention. People came in large numbers from every part of the country. They were young and old alike, and filled with enthusiasm and determination to make a difference in next year’s elections.
All the presidential candidates from both major parties were invited. All the Republican candidates came; all the Democratic candidates declined. The speeches from the presidential candidates stressed religious liberty, the importance of faith in public life, the values we hold, and the need to build a culture of life.
Among the many friends I met from across the country were Jonathan and Deborah Flora, who created the film “A Distant Thunder.” They had the opportunity to address the entire gathering.
Bobby Schindler (brother of Terri Schiavo) and I conducted a workshop on the sanctity of life, and we both drove home the message that the right to life is the foundational issue in any election, because without life, none of the other rights make sense.
I also ran into Barry Lynn, the head of “Americans United for Separation of Church and State.” He and I have talked over the years. In the early years of Priests for Life’s vocal involvement in elections, he launched some press releases against us, but has not done so recently. It was a very cordial encounter, and he very much expected to see me there.
One of my favorite moments was an encounter with the College Republicans from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. We had a good discussion about which presidential candidate(s) we should support. They were full of energy and readiness to work hard to make sure that the public servants we elect understand the difference between serving the public and killing the public.
October 18, 2007
I was happy to see the news that the Supreme Court halted the execution of a Virginia death row inmate, as the Court considers whether lethal injections constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”
At issue is not the constitutionality of the death penalty itself, but rather the specific way in which the lethal injections work, and the question of whether the person being executed might experience excruciating pain and yet not be able to express that because of the paralyzing effects of the drug.
It brings to mind the measure the “Fetal Pain Awareness Act,” a bill which gives that same consideration to unborn children being ripped apart by abortions in the fifth month of pregnancy and beyond. Credible studies have raised the possibility that these children feel pain in the process of being aborted. Like the death row inmate, however, they can’t express that pain.
So even without raising the issue of whether abortion itself is constitutional, could we not halt the execution of these children out of the same humanitarian concern of sparing fellow human beings pain?
In the last few days, I had the opportunity to address the monthly chapel service of the staff of the Family Research Council, headed by Tony Perkins. This is a premier pro-life, pro-family organization based in Washington. Although only a small proportion of its audience is Roman Catholic, there is good reason for Catholics to pay more attention to this organization, to receive their literature, and to collaborate in the efforts they undertake to change America. It is a privilege to collaborate, for example, in their efforts to energize pastors to proclaim the message of life and to activate voters to advance the Culture of Life in the voting booth. Along those lines, I’ll participate as a speaker in the Family Research Council’s event in Washington DC later this month where people from all parts of the Body of Christ will commit themselves to vote in a responsible way in next year’s election. See frc.org for more information.
After speaking at FRC’s chapel service, I flew to Milwaukee and spoke at a fundraiser for the Veritas Society, which puts pro-life commercials on TV throughout Wisconsin. These commercials are based on some of the best research regarding what changes people’s attitudes on abortion. Many of these spots focus on the inner feelings of the woman. This past week, a new spot was introduced at the fundraiser, and it shows the living baby in the womb – not by ultrasound but by even more amazing direct videography. Research shows that these images of the baby were extremely effective in bringing around those who weren’t sure of their stance on abortion.
The next morning I flew to Florida for a series of 16 events over the course of two days. It was wonderful, as it always is when getting together with the best people in the world – the people involved in the pro-life movement! Our movement is younger and younger, more and more determined to win, and as right as right can be about the most urgent moral issue of our day!
As I’ve often said, the greatest people in the world are those who are laboring day after day for the pro-life cause. I just returned from a long trip that started on September 19 and brought me to many pro-life gatherings in the north, south, east, and west regions of our country. I always come back from these trips invigorated with the renewed conviction that we are living in the final days of legal abortion in America. It will end because of the grace of God working through all of you and each of you who are responding to this tragedy the way it deserves to be responded to – as the biggest holocaust in human history and the most urgent task we face.
One thing that becomes clearer and clearer as I continue to meet with key leaders of so many groups is that the power of this movement is really with you. What I mean is that the influence of a leader really is measured in how much grassroots response he or she can generate. And that boils down to you. It is not leaders as such who have the power, but rather the people they lead.
Tomorrow, I get on the road again. More pro-life gatherings are on my agenda, and more inspiration is in store, because I know how much you are giving to the cause and will continue to give until it is won. Be steadfast in exercising the real power you have to end abortion!