Life is too short for a truce.
COMMENT: How typical is this pithy statement from Fr Doyle! We are here for a short time and we must love God and our neighbour during this short time. We must do our best to overcome our weakness and sinfulness in the few short years that we have on earth. There is no time for a truce, there is no time to slacken off in the spiritual life, for he who does not advance falls back. Of course, this does not mean that we live with intense frenzy and nervous exhaustion. Fr Doyle never allowed a truce in his battle against sin, but he was also a source of profound serenity and calm for those around him. The same can be said for all the saints.
Today’s quote is also of relevance for our American readers, for on this day 40 years ago the Supreme Court of the United States legalised abortion on demand.
Fr Doyle never commented on the issue of abortion. For him, the idea that the most vulnerable could be legally destroyed would have been mind boggling. Fr Doyle was distraught at the loss of life he saw in World War I; he would have been astounded at the even greater number of lives lost through abortion. Knowing the character of Fr Doyle, he would have responded with two very complementary approaches – a profound compassion and care for those women who have had an abortion or are tempted to have an abortion, and with great energy and effectiveness in the educational, legal and political battle to protect life.
For far too many unborn babies, their life is indeed too short, and there can be no truce with those who wish to promote the destruction of unborn life.
Abortion is an issue that excites the emotions. This is as it should be, and it is an understandable reaction. However, too often pro-life advocates let their emotions negatively impact on the effectiveness of their work. The secret of effective communication is to meet the audience where they are at. Fr Doyle, as a good Jesuit, would have understood this. In fact, St Ignatius Loyola told the first missionaries that he sent to Ireland – Fr Salmeron and Fr Broet – to go in the door of the Irish, but bring them out the door of the Jesuits. We must speak to people in a calm and measured way, showing the clear scientific evidence of the humanity of the unborn and the evidence that abortion can also be damaging to women. And we must remember that support for unborn life is human rights issue, not a specifically Catholic or religious issue. We must do all of this with genuine heartfelt compassion for those who face unwanted pregnancies and for those who have had abortions, while never selling out on our principles that life is to be protected at all costs and that abortion is a gross abuse of human rights.
Ireland is now in the midst of a terrific struggle on abortion. Despite promising not to legalise abortion if elected, the Fine Gael party is preparing legislation to do just that. For the first time in history, and Irish government is preparing to legalise the direct taking of innocent unborn life. Last Saturday saw the biggest prolife rally in Irish history – in excess of 25,000 people (at a conservative estimate) came out on a bitterly cold winter day to remind Fine Gael of the promise they made. To put it in context, that is the equivalent of 1.7 million people attending a rally in the United States. If Fine Gael proceeds with this initiative, it will pay a heavy electoral price for reneging on its promise.
So, today we pray for peace and forgiveness for those who have had abortions; for help for those who are facing an unwanted pregnancy; for fortitude and prudence for those involved in the struggle against abortion in Ireland, in the United States and globally; for the conversion of those within the abortion industry; and most importantly in Ireland, that Fine Gael politicians will keep their promise and protect the rights of the most vulnerable.