LIFESITE, December 20, 2002 ( – Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of the magazine First Things, was the banquet speaker at the Toronto International Forum. With his deep, booming voice he held the close attention of the over 500-strong audience for 45 minutes, leaving them hungry for more. More importantly, his uplifting and hopeful speech motivated veteran and recent activists alike to be a voice for the unborn, the sick, the elderly and the disabled.

Fr. Neuhaus, who was born and raised near Ottawa before moving to the U.S., thanked those who were involved in the pro-life movement, which he described as society’s “most selfless” human and civil rights movement. He noted that pro-lifers did not choose the pro-life movement; rather, it claimed them to do God’s work. Subsequently, we cannot choose to just let go. We must continue to go to marches, attend conferences and write letters. How many more? “Many more,” he said. “Many more. Many more.”

While it may not seem that pro-life efforts are succeeding, one generation of the movement prepares the next and eventually, the culture of life must prevail because Jesus Christ has prevailed. As for when victory will actually be seen, Fr. Neuhaus quoted T.S. Eliot, who said, “To us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

Quoting Martin Luther King Jr., he said that if pro-lifers want to change the culture, they must be a movement based in love. We must love our opponents, he said, “and they must know we love them.” That is the only way to change someone’s mind or heart, “as any parent knows.”

Fr. Neuhaus said that people of faith are not imposing their agenda on anyone. Echoing Pope John Paul II, he said the church imposes nothing, it merely proposes. It offers the path to a better way. Besides, the beginning of human life is not a moral question but a scientific one. All “sane people,” he said, agree that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.

To truly protect human rights, he said, the rights of all humans must be protected. It will take a moral re-awakening, and it is the responsibility of the pro-life movement to be the conscience of the nation. “We must love the Canadian experiment more than do those who would let it fall back simply into the hands of power and self-interest. You are calling your nation – calling your nation to something great and glorious and good.”

Excerpt from Dec.  2002 Interim   Order the audio cassette or high quality CD of Fr. Neuhaus’s talk


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