LifeSiteNews recently reported the unsurprising findings of a poll commissioned by The Washington Post and ABC stating that a majority of American Catholics are in favor of abortion in “all or most cases.” Coincidentally or providentially, LifeSiteNews published this article on the same day as the Catholic Church celebrated the 45th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s momentous encyclical Humanae Vitae. I suppose it was the latter, and I thank them for doing so.
The findings of the poll were disheartening. As a sinful, aspiring Catholic, this article provided me with a great lesson in humility and self-examination, and this is why.
As I read through the unsurprising, but equally devastating, results my anger grew stronger. What is wrong with all these Catholics? Where did the Church go wrong? Where did the pro-life movement go wrong? How is this possible and why don’t they just get it?
Within seconds, my mind began to play the blame game, and naturally, my first target was the clerics of the church: Priests, bishops, and religious. “This is all their fault,” I thought. Over the years, they have completely abandoned their flock. They stopped preaching the truth from the pulpit and with their own lives. They are to blame for this drastic dissent among Catholics.
Luckily, I quickly sobered up. I took a deep breath, and began to reflect more personally.
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In reality, we are all to blame. How pro-life is my family? My relationship with others? Do I always stand on the side of life in conversations with my relatives and peers? How is my relationship with my wife? My husband? My children? My parents? My relationship with my pastor? And yes, this is supposed to sound like an examination of conscience.
Instead of blaming the usual suspects, we need to look at our own lives. Clergy have an immense responsibility in the Church and they should be held accountable – but not any more accountable than husbands ought to be to their wives (and vice-versa), parents to their children, etc.
If I want more Catholics to truly believe that the right to life is above all other rights, that the inherent dignity of every human being – born and preborn – must be protected and defended at all costs and that to be Christian is to be pro-life, then I need to start with me and my immediate family. Devout and faithful priests (and there are many) definitely help, but the immediate family is the nucleus of our society, and everything starts there. This is usually the hardest place to start, but it is fundamental.
On this 45th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, we should all take the time to sit down with our family, after dinner, and read through this amazing document that was given to us by an amazing pope. We should discuss it, ask questions, seek answers, clear up misunderstandings, and relate with each other honestly by surrendering ourselves to the graces of the Holy Spirit. Afterwards, pray together for all priests and bishops and for a culture of life to be restored in our nation and around the world.
The Church and the pro-life movement have a lot of work to do and these poll results are a sobering reminder. But rather than blaming others, as I initially did, these results should motivate us to take an active role in the new evangelization and to make sure that when the next poll comes around, members of our own families will fall into the category of those who oppose abortion in all cases, not the other way around.