I’ve resisted writing a blog on the now infamous video of Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life using the remains of an aborted child laid naked on an altar for the purpose of making a political point. Mark Shea, Scott Eric Alt, Marchioness Pezzulo, and many others have all made eloquent and salient posts.
It’s worth noting that I served as the Director of Respect Life for the Diocese of Tulsa for nearly 4 years. This issue is extremely important to me. But I’ve never been able to get behind an “At all costs” view of ending abortion. Why? Because what does it profit me to gain the whole world but lose my soul?
You cannot fight for the dignity of the unborn by denying the dignity of another.
I’m reminded of that famous scene from Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons, wherein St. Thomas More refuses to compromise on his principles in order to secure a certain benefit. You can view it below.
There are some pro-life activists who have dedicated themselves to ending abortion, and who have become so focused on the political machinations they feel will bring about their desired end, that they stopped asking whether each individual action was right. Anyone who would dare to point out these questionable tactics was met with a self-righteous reminder that abortion is so much worse than what the activist had done, and therefore these deplorable actions were justified and should be excused. In short, certain activists made a deal with the Devil. He would ignore them while they cut down their own principles. He would even act like these activists were making headway against his diabolic plans. He’d keep running and squealing while these activists shouted across abortion-center parking lots and displayed their horrificly graphic signs to the vulnerable.
But now the principles of the old Pro-Life Movement are all flat, and the Devil has turned round on them, and they have nowhere to turn. All their clout is in the dust. The Devil has called in his markers, and these pro-life advocates don’t have the capital to repay him.
Not every pro-life conservative compromised themselves. Not even every Trump supporter. Some have agreed to vote for Trump, but they never promoted or defended him. Their conscience leads them to do this, and I trust that they remain secure in these evil winds. But others are blind. They can’t see the extreme depravity of their actions because they weigh it against the depravity of abortion. “I haven’t killed 56 million babies,” they say, “so what I’m doing to advance the cause is fine.”
But a Catholic Priest took the naked body of an aborted baby and placed him or her in the middle of an altar which has been consecrated and reserved for worship alone, and he used this image to shill for a political candidate of extremely questionable morals on the eve of the election. He desecrated the altar. He denied the dignity of the dead. He dishonored his office.
It’s time for a New Pro-Life Movement. It’s time for a movement that we can participate in fully without betraying our Catholic faith. A movement that we can join where we don’t have to make a deal with the devil. A movement where we can promote the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death.
This past Saturday (before the Fr. Pavone debacle) I had the great pleasure of interviewing Rebecca Bratten Weiss and Matthew Tyson about their New Pro-Life Movement. You can hear the show here.