By Maria Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia says that, 43 years after the tragic U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade, there is reason for hope for the pro-life movement.
Chaput made his comments at the 2016 Celebrate Life Banquet sponsored by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation Education Fund. The Federation is the Keystone State affiliate of National Right to Life.
“We have every reason to hope,” Chaput told the crowd of more than 500, which included both veteran pro-lifers and members of the Millennial generation.
“Over the past 43 years, the pro-life movement has been written off as defeated and finished too many times to count. Yet here you are tonight again, disappointing your critics and refusing to die. And why is that?
“It’s because no court decision, no law and no political lobby can ever change the truth about when human life begins and the sanctity that God attached to each and every human person, born or unborn,” Chaput said.
Chaput inspired attendees by offering a helpful list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” for building a culture of life.
The Archbishop urged pro-lifers: “Don’t let yourselves be bullied into silence.” He said Americans should “never apologize for being pro-life, or for advancing our beliefs in private or in public.”
Chaput also told attendees “don’t create or accept false oppositions.” He noted that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, some argued that pro-lifers should stop their legal struggle against abortion.
“Of course, many of these voices turned out to be flacks for the Obama Presidential campaign,” Chaput said. “In reality the Obama White House has been extraordinary for its refusal to compromise on anything involving so-called ‘reproductive rights,’ and for its belligerent hostility to pro-life and religious liberty concerns.”
Chaput noted that “if we really believe that abortion is an intimate act of violence, then we can’t aim at anything less than ending abortion.”
Chaput added, “Don’t hate the adversary…We need to trust in the long-term power of love—the true power of God—to convert the human heart even in the face of our own failures. We can never allow ourselves to become bitter.”
In his listing of “Dos” for the pro-life movement, Chaput said, “Do become martyrs,” explaining that while in today’s world, we may never be asked to shed our blood in witnessing for our faith, “We do see character assassinations, mud-slinging and lies against good people every day in the public media. And we should be ready to bear the cost. Nothing, not even our good name, should stop us from doing what we know to be right,” Chaput said.
The second “Do” is to “Keep hope alive…Nothing is more inspiring than happy warriors. I’ve never in my life seen a joy-filled pro-abortion event. And I’ve always found that instructive,” Chaput said.
The third “Do” is to ”Be strategic. Being sheep in the midst of wolves doesn’t mean we can also be dumb as rocks. Being strategic means planning ahead, working together and outsmarting our adversaries.”
Chaput added that, to achieve these goals, we need a dose of realism. “We should never dream or whine about all the things we could do with the millions of dollars we don’t have. We need to focus on the real dollars we do have.”
The final “Do,” he explained is “renewing the culture.”
Chaput said, “If we change one heart at a time, while we save one unborn life at a time, the day will come when we don’t need to worry about saving babies, because they’ll be surrounded by a loving and welcoming culture.”
He concluded, “Will I see that day with my own eyes? I don’t think I can hold my breath that long. But then I never expected to see a Pope from Argentina or the fall of the Iron Curtain either. We may not see that day in our own lifetimes, but the children of your grandchildren will.”