Commentary: The March for Life and Christian Unity Week


Deacon Keith Fournier

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - On January 22, 2009 thousands will gather in Washington, D.C. to give their voice to our neighbors in the first home of the whole human race. These are the children who await their welcome among us upon birth. These littlest neighbors need our voice because theirs is being muffled behind the wall of their mother’s womb, once considered the first refuge of safety. There in their first experience of the interdependency which reveals the truth about our humanity, where they are supposed to be embraced by the warmth of love, they are vulnerable to the worst kind of domestic violence. At any moment the weapons of the first “pre-emptive war”, voluntary abortion, may be wielded against them for any reason. Make no mistake; these are weapons of death and destruction - chemical, surgical or suction – being used to kill them deliberately for any or no reason. That is the cold, hard truth about every procured abortion.

No one with integrity any longer argues that the child killed through abortion is not a human being. When the abortion occurs through miscarriage we properly enter into the mourning of the mother over the loss of “her baby”. However, when the mother is deceived into a voluntary abortion we use a different vocabulary. Most people now acknowledge that these children killed by abortion are human persons. A few hold on to the dangerous notion that dependency upon others makes someone less of a person. However, medical science has confirmed what our consciences and the Natural Law told us all along, these victims of the first “preemptive war” are human beings just like us. We frame “baby’s first pictures” in their 3D Image through sonogram technology. We use intrauterine surgery to intervene to save them or correct anything which they may need before they are born. We prosecute an offender who, in the evil act of harming their mother, causes their death as well. It is all so very clear what we are really doing in every procured abortion.

The “argument” now used to justify this preemptive war is that the choice to kill them should be left to the mother in consultation with her own Doctor and/or other counselors. This is presented in a language of “freedom” and clothed with a counterfeit compassion. However, there is no moral difference between the killing of a child after birth and the killing of a child before birth. We legally excuse fetal homicide when it is committed by a misguided mother through the agency of a deceived or corrupted Doctor who once pledged to “do no harm”. We call it “healthcare” or a “reproductive” choice.Under our new administration the Government may soon extract tax dollars to pay for it.

It is ironic that this 36th March for Life will take place only days after our nation rightly celebrated a great advance against another intrinsic evil, racism, and the horrid memory of its once institutionalized expression, slavery. The election of our 44th President signals progress against what the Catechism calls a “structure of sin”. However, it is rooted in the same evil idea that some human persons are less worthy of being welcomed within our National family than others. Evil ideas have a horrid way of repackaging themselves.We will mourn, pray and demand justice.

It is noteworthy that in the 36 years that we have marched some unexpected good has come to us. In our insistence that the positive law recognize what the Natural Law demands, that these children have a right to life,we Christians have found one another. That is why I believe it is no accident that the March for Life falls within the national week of prayer for Christian unity. Our human rights struggle has been the most fruitful and authentic form of ecumenism the world has ever witnessed.The Prayer of Jesus echoes in the Church in this new missionary age: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:20-23)

There is a reciprocal relationship revealed in these words. The world will believe our gospel when we demonstrate our own unity of love with one another. The prayer of the Son of God will be answered; the only question is how soon it will happen. We hasten that day when we choose to pray together and work with one another. That is the message that the great apostle Paul proclaimed to the Ephesians: "Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." Ephesians 4: 1-6

Paul was the apostle of unity between the early Jewish and Gentile believers who were deeply divided. He knew the corrosive effect of divisions within the Body of Christ. In the Catholic Church 2009 is a year dedicated to St. Paul. We celebrate his Conversion this Sunday. The God who is One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, places the impulse toward Christian unity in our hearts. In his Encyclical letter on Christian unity (May They Be One, 1995), the Servant of God John Paul II underscored the language of communion as the preferred vocabulary: “It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters. Again, the very expression ‘separated brethren’ tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion linked to the baptismal character which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of "other Christians", "others who have received Baptism", and "Christians of other Communities".(Par. 42)

The ecumenical mission was at the heart of John Paul’s pontificate and is at the heart of Pope Benedict’s because it is reveals the heart of the Lord. To be a faithful Christian should mean to long for our full communion.The late Pope John Paul called all of the faithful to carry forward the task of ecumenism with a practical and spiritual urgency:

"Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialogue. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message. Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant. This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself. Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith...Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved."

Throughout the West, Christians, Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic, are now enrolled in this “school of ecumenism”. We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together for Life is becoming a road to our growing communion. Come, let us lock arms together again and offer our voice for those who have none.