Marching for Life

Anne Shepard, OSB

Editor's note: Sisters from Mount St. Scholastica write a weekly column titled "View from the Mount" in our hometown newspaper, the Atchison Globe. this column appeared in the Jan. 28 edition of the Globe.

Sister Anne ShepardThe last few weeks have given us cause for much soul-searching. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, the Leadership of Conference of Women Religious, religious leaders of other faiths, as well as individual parish and faith communities, ask us to be models of unity and love, not hate. Let us make a concerted effort to not put down, mock, judge the motives of others, or incite negativity in our social media or conversations, private and public. We are called to be civil, unifying, reconciliatory and loving. That's what my Benedictine heritage, my Christian faith, and my conscience tell me to do today. 

In Poland last summer, Pope Francis spoke to youth from all over the world. He asked them to teach us how to be united, not divided, saying, "Life nowadays tells us that it is much easier to concentrate on what divides us, what keeps us apart. People try to make us believe that being closed in ourselves is the best way to keep safe from harm. Today, we adults need you to teach us (my emphasis) how to live in diversity, and dialogue, to experience multiculturalism not as a threat but as an opportunity. Have the courage to teach us that it is easier to build bridges than walls. Together we ask that you challenge us to take the path of fraternity to build bridges..." We are called to act through loving actions, careful and respectful conversations and doing what we believe is right.

Respectful, peaceful protest is an important part of North American democracy. Frankly, that is how we gained our independence. We witnessed this last Friday at the inauguration, and on Saturday with women's marches taking place all over the world. Regrettably, some protesters vandalized banks and shops in Washington D.C. on Friday. Most protests, however, were peaceful. I read a social media message that blamed Obama followers who were out of a job and on wellfare for throwing bricks. I have no idea who they were or why they did it. To jump to unfair conclusions does not add to the sturdy unity that our country needs. What may be helpful is civil discourse.

Moreover, the judgement that only pro-abortion women marched last Saturday is unfair. Many pro-life women were among the marchers. This week, our sisters have been praying with and joining the many students from Benedictine College and Maur Hill-Mount Academy who traveled to Washington for the annual March for Life. A lifelong student of Catholic social teaching, I have always taught pro-life. 

I would like to conclude with a quote by the theologian Father James Martin: "I am pro-life. That means that I am also pro-social justice. ...I am not only for the dignity of the human being from the moment of conception, but I am also for the dignity of the human being until the natural end of life. For life does not end with birth. A person who is truly pro-life is pro all life, pro every stage of life...For all life is sacred because all life is created by God."

"That means that I support anything that helps a person to live a full, healthy, and satisfying life in every part of the world. So I am for care of the poor, for a living wage, for affordable health care, for adequate housing, for a humane work environment, for equal pay for women, for generous child care, for support of the aged and infirm. That means I support caring for the marginalized among us: the refugee and the migrant, the homeless, the person with disabilities, the single mother, women who are abused, minorities of every kind who are persecuted and all who feel left out, lonely, ignored."

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