Last year on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, I wrote of the hypocrisy exhibited by some who seek to save seals and rain forests but not unborn people. “For Catholic Ecologists, the link between ecological advocacy and abortion is obvious,” I wrote. “And denying this link results in angst for many so-called ‘pro-choice’ environmentalists.”
It is reasonable to claim that this works in reverse, too. Those of us who seek an end to the cultural acceptance of abortion are also called to protect earth’s ecology. As noted in this blog’s masthead quote by the Holy Father, there is a link between “our duties towards the environment” and “our duties towards the human person.”
Certainly, this link is not an equivalency. Pope Benedict is teaching us that the mystery of life – of organic, living, interconnected, reproducing entities that came into existence following natural laws that were embedded in the cosmos by God at the moment of creation – is diverse and, at the same time, unified.
Put another way, all life must be in relation if it really is life. Relation is the very being of the Triune God – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Moreover, we are made in the image of God and, as the Book of Genesis reveals to us, human life is the pinnacle and steward of all creation. To better explore what this all means, we ponder the words of the Holy Father:
The Church has a responsibility towards creation and she must assert this responsibility in the public sphere. In so doing, she must defend not only earth, water and air as gifts of creation that belong to everyone. She must above all protect mankind from self-destruction. There is need for what might be called a human ecology, correctly understood. The deterioration of nature is in fact closely connected to the culture that shapes human coexistence: when “human ecology” is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits. Just as human virtues are interrelated, such that the weakening of one places others at risk, so the ecological system is based on respect for a plan that affects both the health of society and its good relationship with nature.As millions gather in Washington D.C. on this anniversary of Roe vs. Wade – an annual act of love for life that goes largely unreported by the mainstream media – we must also pause to remember the millions of children, born and unborn, and adults, that have been damaged or killed by poisons in our water, air, and food. Such causes of death are linked to – but, again, not the same type of evil as – the killing of babies in a mother’s womb.
And so we as a people of life must also familiarize ourselves with and work to end the effects of environmental poisons such as pesticides, PCBs, formaldehyde, asbestos, lead, aldrin/dieldrin, mercury, benzo(a)pyrene, mirex, chlordane, octachlorostyrene, DDT, hexachlorobenzene, dioxins and furans, and toxaphene. To name a few.
Indeed, in working with those in the ecological advocacy world who fight to protect humanity from such poisons, we can bring the Gospel of Life and expand their understanding of what it means to be an environmentalist. We must teach that to be green means to work to save the lives of the unborn.
Last point: Our ancient enemy delights in our internal squabbling. Satan wins when we isolate ourselves into subject-specific cliques that, while we are perhaps well-meaning, are not open to dialogue with those who fight other, similar battles. I saw a small defeat of such isolation on Saturday, as I joined a large gathering of Catholics that prayed the Rosary in front of an abortion mill in Cranston, Rhode Island during the early hours of a snowy day. For purposes of plowing, parking was restricted on the main streets. As I walked along unshoveled sidewalks towards the line of people praying the Rosary, I had to pass two pro-choice protestors. They didn’t know where I stood in the fight as I had just arrived and my rosary was in my pocket. We chatted about the snow and the parking ban. We joked about the city’s inability to plow the side streets, making those the safer choice for our cars. We laughed. Then I took out my rosary and proceeded to join my brothers and sisters seeking to save lives. The pro-abortion woman that I had been pleasantly chatting with gave a surprised look. Maybe she realized that she had something in common with one of the pro-life protesters. Either way, Satan must not have been happy, because for a moment, two people on opposite sides of the issue had been friendly. Our common experiences had brought us together. A road to dialogue and love was plowed clean and made passable, if only briefly.
If the war for life is to be won and won soon, we must sneak past the defenses of those who need a change of heart. We must be open to dialogue in whatever form it comes.
Thus, the point: If pro-life advocates cannot first dialogue with each other – with those who do and do not seek to connect ecology with all life issues – then how are we ever going to love, communicate with, and change the hearts of those many others who have fallen so deeply into the shadow of the culture of death?