-Sidewalk Jesus columnist Janet M. Crowe
Although physically separated by a river and border fence, two nations gathered in El Paso and Juarez for the first Bi-National Pro-Family Pro-Life Congress. In El Paso alone, more than 900 individuals, with
Trent Horn, Catholic Answers host, takes a question at the Pro-Life Pro-Family conference
youth almost outnumbering adults, joined in spirit to learn how to spread the message of life that the world badly needs to hear.
Summing up the purpose for jointly hosting a conference on both sides of the border, Bishop Mark Seitz said, “We are one and we can work together. We can do more because we are united in Christ to work for the dignity and sanctity of life.”
Working to promote the sanctity of life can boil down to one question, according to Trent Horn of Catholic Answers. Asking, “what are the unborn” brings the discussion to a level of obvious logic that cannot, in good conscience, be ignored. Since even a child easily understands that a mother dog and father dog produce a puppy dog, and a human mother and a human father clearly create nothing less than a human baby, then how can adults be so blind as to fail to see the humanity of the unborn?
While unwillingness to see the truth often permeates pro-life versus pro-choice discussions, we often fall into the trap of wanting to win the argument of who is right or that what we are saying is right. Instead, Horn emphasized, we must consider that at the heart of the matter are people with needs, goals, dreams and fears. We cannot forget to express our concern for that person and her situation as well as the child within her womb. Empathy should be the beginning of our insight into the problem that an individual faces or we not only lose the argument, we lose sight of the compassion that must drive us in helping others.
Then, we can show that the truth is more simple than the rhetoric espoused by those who try to muddy the waters. Jesus spoke in parables, and people could understand the comparison to their own lives in His stories. We, too, can “trot out a toddler,” as Horn says, to clearly show the truth behind abortion’s misinformation and lies.
In other words, when someone claims that it is unfair for a woman living in poverty to be forced to bring another child into the world when she is struggling to care for the children she already has, we can show that one life is no less valuable than another. Rather than aborting the life within her womb, why can’t she “abort” or get rid of the toddler or even the troubled teenager she already has? “Trot out a toddler” into the discussion to ask why the murder of one life is acceptable while the murder of another’s life is a heinous act. Shock and anger may be the initial response, but, hopefully, awareness and understanding will prevail or will at least plant a seed.
Love and a few tears watered those seeds of understanding at the conference in the testimony of a high school student named Reed who shared the song he wrote about his own life. Reed’s life began as a result of rape. At only fifteen, his mother did not feel able to care for the child that resulted from that terrible act but she refused to take away her child’s future in the way that her rapist had taken away her confidence and security. Reed sang of his grateful love for both his birth mother who gave him the gift of life as well as for his adoptive family whose love allowed him to become the person he is today and hopes tbe in his future.
And, it was to the future that all of the speakers directed their voices and their hearts. Reed challenged the youth who filled the bleachers of the gymnasium to “be the person God created you to be and be a disciple to the nations” by spreading the God’s word that life is sacred and must be protected.
Bishop Seitz urged each person to have the courage to do what is right in the sight of God because the freedom of religion guaranteed in our Constitution must be supported not just by the ability to attend church but in the way we live what we believe as our Catholic faith every day. Theology of the Body speaker Monica Ashour roused both youth and married couples to come out of the darkness and into the light of understanding and respect for oneself.
Archbishop Garcia-Siller of San Antonio echoed that call to the youth, “We must treat our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit because God dwells inside of our bodies. We are beautiful from the inside out.” With courage, he said, we can share that beautiful light within us. We are called to be the light of Christ to others who are in darkness especially when situations are difficult because the truth cannot be compromised.
If we go forth with the light of Christ, then each person’s shining light will illuminate others until the darkness no longer has a hold on our world. Let’s begin today!