There have been rumblings through pro-life communities that America got what it deserved for harboring a culture of death.
While Muslim extremists who flew the planes saw God’s hand in their suicide mission, evidently some Catholics saw providence at work as well, in bringing a baby-killing nation to its knees.
Others have complained about the volume of public grief: how can we lament so loudly when nothing is said about the unborn?
In these attitudes, we see one reason why the pro-life movement has had only limited success over the years. It appears that some in the movement have forgotten the charity that underlies all good works.
You may be thinking these comments are from a radical fringe – I can assure they are not. From my editor’s seat in Washington, D.C., I am hearing more and more reports of this kind.
What I hear is disturbing because in these comments I hear a desire for vengeance and vindication. I also hear those whose devotion to one form of evil has made them begrudge the grief of those who suffer from another.
Don’t get me wrong: I understand how and why these thoughts arise. Year after year you watch the children die. They die in the name of love and happiness; they die in the name of equal rights and freedom.
They even die, as Fr. Frank Pavone has frightfully pointed out, in God’s name: Abortion clinics are now offering religious services to any of their clients who want a religious ritual to accompany their infanticide.
How can you not become angry? How can you not pray for the moment when this truth is revealed to all who have denied it, who have scorned and laughed at it, and at you?
Because these deaths are ignored, and you are ignored, all other causes of death begin to pale in comparison: How should anyone be so upset with terrorism when abortion goes on and on?
It illustrates what the spiritual writers have always said: those who aim the highest will always face the greatest of spiritual temptations – to find pride and envy in the work of defending life.
Is it anything else but pride that can claim the September 11th disaster as proof of a single cause, even the cause of life?
Is it anything but envy that begrudges mourning the thousands who died in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the four highjacked airliners?
Now is the time for showing a compassion that isn’t reserved for only one group of victims, no matter how large, no matter how innocent.
Now is the time to speak wisely of life and death. Many souls have been shaken in wake of this tragedy: The witness of the Church must be heard without the dissonant voices of pent-up frustrations and resentful “I-told-you-so’s.”
The pro-life community surely has a large enough heart to embrace the suffering of those who have rejected its pleas. The concern for innocent death has become a common ground – it’s an opportunity for the gospel to be heard.