Father Fidelis Defends the Truth, and Pays the Price

Father Fidelis Moscinski’s courageous actions in living out the faith challenge me to always grow deeper in trust of God.

Father Fidelis Moscinski (r) prays at a pro-life gathering
Father Fidelis Moscinski (r) prays at a pro-life gathering (photo: Theresa Bonopartis)

“To live in truth is the basic minimum of human dignity, even if the price to defend the truth can be costly. You need to always remain faithful to the truth. Truth can never be betrayed.” —Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko

On Jan. 23, I went to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York for the trial of Father Fidelis Moscinski, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, who was charged with violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act at Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, Long Island. As I watched the trial unfold, it struck me that although the prosecutors presented the physical facts in what Father had done, the truth of what actually takes place inside Planned Parenthood was, as usual, hidden under “reproductive health care” and the continued denial of the harm abortion does to women and families. 

In July 2022, Father placed bicycle locks on the gates of the Planned Parenthood in the hopes of keeping the clinic closed. His goal was to speak to the women coming in for an abortion and offer them resources that would allow them to keep their babies. The locks were eventually cut by the fire department, at which time Father laid down in front of the fence for a short while until the time of his arrest. The original charge was for an ordinance violation, which was then changed to a misdemeanor FACE charge.

During the trial, the prosecutors presented evidence to convict Father of the federal offense. One such piece of evidence was to show the complete interview he did with EWTN stating his motivation for his actions, which was to keep the clinic closed so that no unborn babies would be killed and no women would be harmed that day. No other defense was presented, as this interview clearly stated what he had done and his motives for doing so.

The conviction brings with it a possible sentence of six months in jail. The brutal killing of innocent unborn babies was, as usual, a fact unaddressed as current laws continue to protect the brutal act of abortion.

It is close to impossible to bring the truth of abortion out into the light. Legislation protecting the slaughter of these innocents at any cost continues to be passed in states like New York where Governor Kathy Hochul places more and more protections in place under the guise of care for women. Now, in addition to these clinic protections, the City of New York has also begun distributing free abortion pills to terminate pregnancies at city-run health clinics. These abortions are especially dangerous to the mothers, with no mandated doctor visit or ultrasound to determine the stage of the pregnancy. Already there have been lawsuits against Planned Parenthood, including one where a woman delivered a 30-week-old baby into her toilet. No exam was given before the abortion nor was an ultrasound done to determine its age. And hers was not the only suit.

Every day, we walk or drive by these clinics with no thought of the fact that unborn babies are being torn apart inside. As a society we do not want to have to think of it and sadly, the protections afforded to the abortion clinics makes it easy for this to happen. 

Yet this veil of darkness does not change the truth of abortion or the harm it does. 

I consider myself very blessed to call Father Fidelis a good friend. We have worked together for decades holding Holy Hours for Life, hosting Coast to Coast Rosaries, attending prayer vigils and working side by side in a ministry for those hurt by abortion. Father knows firsthand the harm of abortion to women men and siblings because he has assisted (and continues to assist) these people in their healing. Sadly, this is never addressed in court but continues to be denied by society despite the countless numbers of people coming forth for help. Father’s actions at the clinic also seek to bring attention to the harm to others occurring there every day.

As I drove to the courthouse on the morning of the trial, I must admit that I was filled with dread at the thought of what may happen. I resisted what I already knew would probably occur. A guilty verdict. Yet as I sat in the courtroom in prayer, I found my peace in knowing there is only one truth and in trusting God to provide what is needed. As St. Paul writes (2 Timothy 1):

For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God. 

There are people who do not agree with what Father is doing. They see his actions as counterproductive and feel his being in prison is a waste when he could be out working for an end of abortion. It is hard, as humans living in this world, to internalize the spiritual implications and the value of his sacrifices for the souls of those he is called protect. To lay down his life as a priest. I am sure many felt the same way when Jesus was imprisoned and ultimately crucified. They did not understand. Even his apostles and friends fled, and his life was seen by many as ending in failure. Yet it is in the cross alone that we receive eternal life.

Both Father and I have a devotion to Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, a Polish priest associated with the Solidarity trade union in communist Poland. His sermons, though spiritual, were also known for criticizing the communist government and motivating the people to protest. They tried to silence him, but Blessed Jerzy continued to speak the truth through imprisonment and eventually, in 1984, martyrdom at the hands of three agents of Służba Bezpieczeństwa

It has become a habit of mine to pray a perpetual novena to Blessed Jerzy. The novena prayer quotes St. John Paul II: “May good arise from this death like the Resurrection from the Cross.” 

After the news of the guilty verdict was made public, I received a message from one of the women in the ministry. She was distraught and struggling with the fact that Father was standing up for her and for life while knowing she had aborted children. She wrote:

I feel horrible that Father Fidelis and other prolife activists are going through this. It puts shame on me for having commuted a crime and not paid anything. I mean, my punishment is that I cannot or don’t have any live children ... which makes me very sad at times. … It eats my heart at times to think of it ... so I try not to think of that. … But seeing the injustice bestowed on a holy priest and person defending life. Something I didn’t even do with children really puts me in a sad place. What can I do?

I assured her that Father was happy to do this. It is what God had called him to. He sacrifices for those of us who have had abortions, too, so that we will come back to the mercy of God. Just pray for him, I told her, and all those who do this, that they may have peace and perseverance and their sacrifices will bring conversions to Christ. God loves you and wants your peace!

I must admit that it is not always easy being Father Fidelis’ friend — his courageous actions in living out the faith challenge me to always grow deeper in trust of God. To live the Gospel and the truth even if it is “costly.”

Not everyone is called to rescue but we are all called to live the gospel in the way God is asking each one of us. To pray for and support each other in proclaiming the truth of what abortion is and does, and to know that in the face of the lies and violence of abortion there is only one truth — a truth that cannot be betrayed.

Theresa Bonopartis is the co-developer of “Entering Canaan – a Sacramental Journey to an Inheritance of Mercy,” a post-abortion ministry.