Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
If pro-life saints were visibly present at the March for Life, what might they say?
We don’t have to imagine what it would be, because they’d remind us of what they constantly said. So who might they be and what might they tell the crowds and the government and those opposed to life? What they have always said in the past.
Leading the delegation is St. John Paul II.
“You are called to stand up for life!” he calls out strongly. “To respect and defend the mystery of life always and everywhere, including the lives of unborn babies, giving real help and encouragement to mothers in difficult situations. You are called to work and pray against abortion.”
After the cheers, he continues,
“America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”
John Paul II addresses everyone, listening or not:
“The Gospel of Life is not for believers alone: it is for everyone. The issue of life and its defense and promotion is not a concern of the Christian alone. Although faith provides special light and strength, this question arises in every human conscience which seeks the truth and which cares about the future of humanity. Life certainly has a sacred and religious value, but in no way is that value a concern only of believers. The value at stake is one which every human being can grasp by the light of reason; thus it necessarily concerns everyone.”
“All human life-from the moment of conception and through all subsequent stages-is sacred, because human life is created in the image and likeness of God. Nothing surpasses the greatness or dignity of a human person...If a person's right to life is violated at the moment in which he is first conceived in his mother's womb, an indirect blow is struck also at the whole moral order.”
Furthermore, he continues,
“To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop.”
Next, firing up the scores of thousands listening and watching, believers and non-believers, he prays,
“Give us the grace…When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, to stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.”
Then the great pro-life saint exclaims,
“Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid!”
Arm-in-arm with John Paul II is St. Teresa of Calcutta.
“It is a poverty that a ‘child must die’ so that you may live as you wish,” she says in her riveting way.
She reminds the population controllers,
“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”
Pro-lifers know there are more than one victim in abortions. Mother Teresa affirms,
“There are two victims in every abortion: a dead baby and a dead conscience.”
The saint of Calcutta emphasizes,
“I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?
Then she adds,
“By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
She reminds of other consequences.
”We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, killings, of wars, or of hatred…If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”
Turning to healing women, ending abortions, and becoming solidly pro-life, Mother Teresa asks, and answers, “How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love…And we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.”
She appeals to women:
“That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike! Yet we can destroy this gift of motherhood, especially by the evil of abortion, but also by thinking that other things like jobs or positions are more important than loving, than giving oneself to others. No job, no plans, no possessions, no idea of “freedom” can take the place of love. So anything that destroys God’s gift of motherhood destroys His most precious gift to women– the ability to love as a woman.”
Saints Go Marching On
St. Gianna Molla, patron of mothers and unborn children, wife and mother who gave her own life so her unborn child could be born, picks up on Mother Teresa’s finish.
“Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them,” she says. “They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy and strong.”
And what of those babies who the secularists see as not what they consider according to their standards as “healthy or perfect”?
Servant of God Jérôme Jean Louis Marie Lejeune, the French pediatrician and geneticist who discovered the chromosome for Down syndrome and strongly opposed abortion has something to say that even the pro-choicers can’t try to argue with:
“To dissociate the child from love is, for our species, a methodological error: contraception, which is to make love without making a child; artificial (in vitro) fertilization, which is to make a child without making love; abortion, which is to unmake the child; and pornography, which is to unmake love: all these, to varying degrees, are incompatible with natural law.”
Servant of God Lejeune tells everyone this too:
“To accept the fact that, after fertilization has taken place, a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion. The human nature of the human being from conception to old age is not a metaphysical conception. It is plain experimental evidence.”
Saints in White
As St. Pope John XXIII joins the heavenly delegation, most never realized he also made pro-life statements on the laws of life in his encyclical Mater et Magistra (On Christianity and Social Progress) which came out before Roe v. Wade and which he repeats for marchers:
“We must solemnly proclaim that human life is transmitted by means of the family, the family founded on marriage, one and indissoluble, raised for Christians to the dignity of a Sacrament. The transmission of human life is entrusted by nature to a personal and conscious act, and, as such, subject to the all-wise laws of God: laws inviolable and immutable that are to be recognized and observed.”
Then a group carrying a huge banner that reads “50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae” precedes Blessed Pope Paul VI who repeats what he taught in the Encyclical:
“Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children.”
Paul VI again reminds,
“But to experience the gift of married love while respecting the laws of conception is to acknowledge that one is not the master of the sources of life but rather the minister of the design established by the Creator. Just as man does not have unlimited dominion over his body in general, so also, and with more particular reason, he has no such dominion over his specifically sexual faculties, for these are concerned by their very nature with the generation of life, of which God is the source. ‘Human life is sacred — all men must recognize that fact," Our predecessor Pope John XXIII recalled.”
John XXIII then picks up his own quote:
“Human life is sacred — all men must recognize that fact. From its very inception it reveals the creating hand of God. Those who violate His laws not only offend the divine majesty and degrade themselves and humanity, they also sap the vitality of the political community of which they are members.”
As everyone begins to cheer, St. John Paul II steps in for the final word, restating:
“You are called to stand up for life!” he calls out strongly. “Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid!”