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Catholic Standard

Archdiocese of Washington

January 16, 2003

Teaching Children about the Pro-Life Movement

By Maureen Boyle

Next week will be the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to legalize abortion on demand. Thousands and thousands of people of all ages, races and religions will come from all over the United States to Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life.

Among the marchers, there will be college and high school students, elderly people, clergy, and perhaps the strongest witnesses to life of all - families with young children.

Parents who bring their kids or babies to the March for Life give their young children a special gift. At an early age, those children, who are the future of the pro-life movement, begin to learn a valuable lesson. They see first-hand what it means to express publicly a pro-life conviction and the importance of taking those views to the nation's lawmakers. For that one often very cold day in January, pro-lifers are surrounded by thousands of people who share their conviction that from the moment of conception life is sacred.

But what can families do in their day-to-day lives to instill pro-life values in their children?

Most child-rearing experts will say setting a good example is the best teacher. In a book titled, "Keeping Your Kids Catholic," essayist Michael Schwartz suggests, "Be a pro-life person in a way your children can see."

Support the right-to-life movement with prayers, time, and financial contribution, if possible. Vote for pro-life candidates. Openly discuss your pro-fife opinions with your kids.

Encourage prayer and fasting in one's family. "They are the secret to this pro-life movement," said Dr. John Bruchalski, a Catholic pro-life obstetrician in Fairfax, during a recent talk at Holy Cross Parish, Garrett Park.

He also noted the importance of Eucharistic adoration, praying for priests and fidelity to the Church's teaching on sexual morality. "Contraception and abortion are fruits of the same tree," he said.

In an essay, "Speaking to Children About Abortion," Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, writes that children are very receptive to the truth. The priest said it is not necessary to teach children the details of reproduction before they learn that abortion is a bad thing.

"The basis for teaching about abortion is not the reproductive system, but the dignity and worth of every human person, whether that person is big or small, young or old, healthy or sick, wanted or unwanted, convenient or inconvenient," the priest writes.

From the earliest age, instruct children in the sacredness of life. If kids know God as the creator of all life, they will learn to respect humanity and begin to understand how He loves everyone infinitely.

Foster in children a sense of courage in the truth. Teach kids to form convictions and live by them. Teaching leads to action. Father Pavone writes about meeting a 7-year-old boy demonstrating outside an abortion clinic. He asked the child if it was his first time in such a place. The boy told him, "Oh no, Father. I've protested abortion in New York, Chicago, Atlanta and other places."

Inspire children to see Church as their protector infallible guide. The Church's teachings "are an absolutely reliable guide to what we should believe and how we should live, and as long as we receive that guidance humbly and follow it honestly, we can be certain that we are not falling into error," writes Schwartz.

Do not be afraid to discuss with children that the sacredness of life is under attack. Children will realize their special mission as Christians is to speak out for the defenseless in today's world the unborn, the elderly and persons with disabilities.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects to remember in the pro-life movement, a lesson for people of all ages, is always to speak the truth with charity. "You can be forceful and talk about your faith, but you have to do it with love," Dr. Bruchalski said. "You must engage them in love. You have to disciple them."

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org