In 1976, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope John Paul II in 1978, said,
We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up.
Perhaps the situation pro-life Americans currently face epitomizes what the Holy Father was telling us then. There are many reasons for believing that this confrontation has reached a critical point, but the most telling is that the vast majority of Christians have lost sight of the fact that, fundamentally, there is no respect for the dignity of human person – born or preborn. I don't say this as a condemnatory judgment of the masses, but rather as a description of reality. If one honestly examines the attitudes and activities of political candidates who openly decry violence, one can see that there is a tragic disconnect between what is defined as violent and what is defined as something else – be it abortion, euthanasia, contraception, infanticide, human embryonic stem cell research or human cloning.
When we hear or read about violence in today's media, we are never reminded of the despicable acts I have just mentioned to you. No, quite the contrary, we hear that war is violent, the death penalty is violent or that crime in the streets is violent. And of course, each of these is violent, but the root cause of escalating brutality is rarely put into perspective.
Let me take a few moments to explain what I mean.
If I ask the average Christian how many Americans have died in major wars since our first war casualties were recorded, I could be told that the death toll is as high as 1,007,986. This is a figure most recently confirmed by Department of Defense statistics used by the Congressional Research Service.
Please compare this to the more than 3,000 preborn children who die daily (approximately 1.2 million yearly) in America from surgical abortion procedures alone. As you can see, in less than a single year, the violence waged in the wombs of mothers in this nation exceeds that of all the war dead combined.This is a perfect example of the difference in perspective between the Church and the anti-Church, or to put it differently, between truth and half-truth.
Moving on, if I were to ask the average Christian how many Americans have died because they have received the death sentence after being properly tried by a judge and jury in the U.S., possibly I would be told that the number is around 5,000. We know for a fact that between 1930, the first year for which statistics were provided, until the end of 1999, 4,457 people were executed. Estimating the additional nine years based on these numbers leads me to believe that we are indeed looking at approximately 5,000 deaths.
This number is very troubling, of course, but balance it against a single week, in which approximately 3,000 preborn children die daily. Can you contemplate the fact that 21,000 preborn children were sliced and diced to death by surgical abortion during that period in this nation? Is it really that difficult to see where the root of all violence is?
It is impossible to imagine how those with eyes to see and ears to hear can be so totally devoid of concern for the facts I have just related to you. But on the other hand, it is not so difficult to conceive it at all. We live in a time where right is wrong, where good is frequently defined as evil and where truth is denied as nothing more than a religious belief.
The offensive we are thus called to wage in this war of words, ideas and misrepresentations has to be based on faith, hope and a sincere love for life. It requires a deep understanding of the stakes and a willingness to serve, without counting the cost. But most of all, it requires confidence that, armed with the truth, nothing can stop us from forcing back the evil that has blinded so many and left our nation stained with the blood of millions.
The signs of hope in the midst of this confrontation are glowing brightly. It could be that now is the time when many people will awaken to reality, and not only hear it and see it, but act on it. For example, a former Philadelphia Eagle, the Reverend Herb H. Lusk II, opened the HOPE Center through his People for People community outreach organization to counteract the decline in the numbers of the African-American population. He said,
"I've always been pro-life, but I've been passive about it. When I began to consider that the African-American population alone has declined in the past three years across the nation, I realized that we're not procreating our own race; and that is a direct result of abortion in our communities."According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, 50 percent of black pregnancies end in abortion in Philadelphia. And between 1973 and 1999, there were over 13 million African-American abortions nationwide. "It breaks my heart to hear that; it makes me cry," Rev. Lusk said of the statistics. "We can do better than that."
Here's another ray of hope inTomball, Texas, where the following remarkable story hit the papers last week: After earning several honors and awards during an extensive career in the U.S. Navy, retired Rear Admiral Al Kelln can soon add a new accomplishment to his list: opening a pregnancy counseling center.
To many, it seemed an unusual choice for the man who has worked in several positions in Naval headquarters, founded the Naval Submarine League and provided his submarine and intelligence expertise to Washington, D.C. clients. "I really don't like anyone telling me 'no' or 'it can't be done,'" he said. "There isn't anything that can't be done if you pray and believe."
So, in the midst of the cultural meltdown we see all around us, there is yet hope and the courage required of each of us as we move forward. I don't think it is an accident that the likes of Lusk and Kelln have chosen now as the right time to heed God's call and act positively to thwart the violent scourge gripping our nation for almost 36 years. In fact, I view it as a sign that there are men and women of faith who will confront the very trial to which the Holy Father referred to and emerge victorious, God willing.
Being part of the solution always results in joy, even in such perilous times. Let us not be overcome with despair, but rather energized by the One with whom we serve.