Convergence

Christ the Consolator by Bloch

Each January, three observances converge that reinforce each other and summon the Christian world to work together against injustice. January 15 is the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and on or around that day we observe a national holiday in his honor. A week later, on January 22, we recall the tragic decision made that day in 1973 by the Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade, unleashing a policy of abortion on demand. On or around January 22, large rallies and marches for life are held from coast to coast. And from January 18 to 25th each year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is observed.

These three great movements are deeply intertwined.

Jesus Christ prayed that his followers would be one, as he and the Father are one. Authentic Christian unity does not mean pretending there are no serious doctrinal disagreements between denominations. It does mean working to come to a deeper understanding of what those differences are and are not, as well as recognizing and building on the real unity that does exist in our common affirmation of Christ and his Lordship in our lives and in the world.

That affirmation of Christ requires that we work to fight injustice. In his encyclical letter on Christian Unity, issued in 1995, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Many Christians from all Communities, by reason of their faith, are jointly involved in bold projects aimed at changing the world by inculcating respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly, and the defenseless…Christians who once acted independently are now engaged together in the service of this cause, so that God’s mercy may triumph” (n. 43).

Both the civil rights movement and the pro-life movement are evidence of this common engagement. Both movements seek to secure equal rights for marginalized human beings, despite their appearances, and to apply to law and culture the promises of the Gospel. Both movements have found their “meeting place” and their “launching pad” in the Churches, manifesting this declaration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“I’m always happy to see a relevant ministry. It’s alright to talk about ‘long white robes over yonder,’ in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It’s alright to talk about ‘streets flowing with milk and honey,’ but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can’t eat three square meals a day. It’s alright to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God’s preacher must talk about the new New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do.”

Defending the equal dignity of every human being after birth strengthens our witness to the rights of those in danger before birth, and vice-versa. The witness, in fact, is ultimately one: the witness to the one Christ, who restores dignity to every human life.

Visit Fr. Pavone’s website at http://priestsforlife.org/.

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About the Author

National Director, Priests for Life Father Frank Pavone is a native New Yorker who was ordained in 1988 by Cardinal John O’Connor. He is a priest of the Amarillo Diocese in Texas and serves full-time in pro-life leadership with his bishop’s permission. In 1993 he became national director of Priests for Life. He is also the president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the national pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels throughout the country preaching and teaching against abortion. He lived in Rome for two years while serving on the Pontifical Council for the Family, and recently was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life. In 2005, he was present at the bedside of Terri Schiavo as she was dying and was an outspoken advocate for her life. He was invited by members of the Class of 2009 at Notre Dame to lead an alternate commencement ceremony for those students who refused to attend the ceremony in which President Obama was honored. Father Pavone has received the “Proudly Pro-life Award” by the National Right to Life Committee, and numerous other pro-life awards and honorary doctorates. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, has described him as “the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church.”

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1 Comment

  1. To all who have thought of attending a March for Life and never have. These marches are family-friendly and safe. Please let you light shine on this day and set examples for your children that will last forever. The unborn and the born count on your witness!

    Thank you Fr. Pavone.

    Deacon Mike

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