Scottish bishop, The Right Reverend Joseph Devine, has recently set a great example of moral clarity and leadership by supporting the use of abortion images in order to publicly expose abortion advocates’ words.  He said, “Such images should not be suppressed from the public consciousness any more than pictures of famine or the reality of war.  If we cannot face the pictures, how can we conceive of endorsing the reality?”

His comments were reported in Express UK where he asked, “Two hundred thousand abortions take place in Britain each year. Why is the pro-choice lobby so desperate to hide the truth about abortion from the public?”

Bishop Devine’s belief that we should bring the abortion darkness into light is consistent with many leading and well-respected clergy:

In 1999, then-bishop, now Cardinal, Raymond Burke, wrote an endorsement of a Center for Bio-Ethical Reform staffer, saying, “I …support fully his work with the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform” and recommended our Genocide Awareness Project.  He said, “Unless [our young people] become more horrified of abortion than they are terrified of a crisis pregnancy, they will surely continue to have abortions. We need to make abortion unthinkable for the next generation, if we are to save their unborn children.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput endorsed a graphic abortion exhibit, Justice for All, saying, “The exhibits on campus show the inhumanity of abortion and do so in serious and persuasive ways.  The medical and emotional consequences of abortion are shown in a loving and non-condemning manner.”

Bishop Wieslaw Mering of Wloclawek solemnly opened a graphic abortion exhibit in Poland.  See photos here.

Right Reverend John Braganza of Mission, BC, said, “There is nothing, to my knowledge, contrary to Catholic teaching in the use of the graphics and the content of the arguments that CCBR employs. In fact the arguments are profoundly Catholic! ...The effect of the work the CCBR is doing testifies to the good fruit being produced among youth especially: a renewed commitment to appreciate the gift of life and defend it. This organization is able to reawaken consciences of the old and the young from the sleep of indifference, fuzzy thinking, prejudice, to the evil of the genocide of the unborn. It has helped many to embrace the truth freely and wholeheartedly.”

Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life said, “Having worked in pro-life activities on every level from the parish to the Vatican, where I served on the Pontifical Council for the Family, I can attest that the vast majority of pro-life leaders and activists understand that using graphic visuals is an essential component of winning the victory over this evil.”

Will clergy who speak so boldly face resistance?  Inevitably, yes. Bishop Devine is already drawing criticisms for his stance on graphic visuals as well as comparing abortion to the Holocaust.  He wrote, “I have no doubt that the publication of the photographs of the victims of Auschwitz and the Burma Railway brought home the horrors of such evil catastrophes far more effectively than a million pleading words.”

This is not new.  Over two decades ago, in 1991, The Vancouver Sun reported, “Abortion, holocaust analogy gets touring Pope in trouble.”  The story explained, “Jewish leaders in Germany and France reacted with outrage after the Pope [John Paul II] said killings of the unborn ranked alongside the genocides of the 20th century, including Hitler’s onslaught against the Jews in which six million died…The Pope protested…that abortion had created a vast cemetery of the unborn beside the 20th century’s many victims of cruelty and genocide.  He spoke of his personal horror when he saw a film of an unborn child struggling desperately to avoid death during an abortion procedure.”

John Paul II and others were and are so determined to build a Culture of Life because they have come face-to-face with the Culture of Death.  Following their lead, we should heed the words John Paul II said to World Youth Day pilgrims in Rome in 2000:

“To believe in Jesus today, to follow Jesus as Peter, Thomas, and the first Apostles and witnesses did, demands of us, just as it did in the past, that we take a stand for him, at times almost to the point of a new martyrdom: the martyrdom of those who, today as yesterday, are called to go against the tide in order to follow the divine Master.”