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About those embarrassing pro-lifers

May 16, 2014

Even though, as a general rule, the leadership of national episcopal conferences is elected by member bishops (c. 452), in Italy (long story made short) the pope personally appoints conference leaders. Pope Francis appointed Bp. Nunzio Galantino as Secretary General of Italian bishop’s conference a couple months ago.

Galantino is calling for a “taboo-free discussion” of priestly celibacy, administration of holy Communion to divorced-and-remarried Catholics, and homosexuality (sic: homosexual acts?). His call for a ‘taboo-free discussion’ of these topics suggests, of course, that, till now, their discussion has been hindered by taboos, or at least, that Galantino thinks they have been discussed only amid taboos. I suggest the first implication is false; the second, necessarily, mistaken. Passing familiarity with the Catholic literature that each of these topics has generated over the centuries should be enough to dispel allegations of “taboos” in their regard except perhaps in the minds of some who dislike the Church’s position on one or more of these topics.

But it is Galantino’s gratuitous remark about “expressionless persons praying rosaries outside abortion clinics” that attracts my attention. I worry when ranking prelates disparage the simple and prayerful piety that some lay faithful show even before the Gates of Death.

I prayed my first rosary outside an abortuary in 1978. I don’t recall what my expression was, but I doubt I was smiling. I have prayed many rosaries outside of many abortion mills since then, have picketed them, side-walk witnessed at them, passed out literature around them, and even drove two women (who had showed up for abortions) to pro-life agencies where they sought assistance toward sparing their babies from abortion. I probably smiled on those two days.

At the same time—even though usually things are quiet (deathly quiet) outside an abortion chamber—I have nevertheless also been screamed at by clinic personnel, cursed at by passers-by, drenched in the rain, had a brick tossed over a wall at me, and once watched a driver gesture the ‘trigger finger’ at me. But even if I had the presence of mind to rejoice at these insults borne for the sake of the least of His children, I’m pretty sure I did not show it on my face. I wonder, does every feeling need to be shown? And what exactly should one feel outside a death chamber?

In any case, if my expressionless demeanor at prayer outside an abortuary has ever embarrassed anyone, I apologize. It’s just that I am still fazed at the very thought that, hardly 20 paces from where I stand, a baby is being sliced to ribbons. + + +

Update: Well put, John Smeaton.

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