When I was in college I watched S
amaritan: The Mitch Synder Story
. It was a made for television true story about Mitch Synder who while in prison got to know two Jesuit, social justice priests Philip and Daniel Berrigan. When Synder (played by actor Martin Sheen) got out of prison he became an advocate for the homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C.
A few years later, I found myself marching with homeless people in the streets of Dayton, Ohio chanting "homes for the homeless." And who was leading the march? Mitch Snyder. In many ways, my life has come full circle now working with McAnthony Window and its patrons.
Along the way, I embraced the womb to tomb, "seamless garment" pro-life Catholic teaching articulated so well by Church leaders like the late Cardinal Joseph
Bernardin. However, I found myself in university environments where the focus tended to gravitate toward being more pro-life after birth than pro-life from the moment of conception to birth. I let myself think that eliminating the reasons why someone would have an abortion were what I should focus most upon.
While on the Justice Across the Campus Committee at a Catholic university in Ohio, the President asked us to come up with a policy to guide the university in making financial investments that were consistent with Catholic social teaching. The language that the committee developed used the words "pro-life" supported by examples such as poverty, the environment, death penalty, etc...to the exclusion of the word "abortion." I argued that to highlight pro-life using only after birth examples to the exclusion of pro-life examples from conception to birth, namely abortion was wrong and served only to divide the pro-life "seamless garment." Including the word "abortion" went down to defeat in the committee's vote.
This week. I watched the movie
Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Kill
at Cinema 53. This self-funded, true story movie that Hollywood shunned really impacted me. It showed the horrors of abortion up close and personal. It caused me to go back and review the methods used in abortions at various stages of pregnancy. It made me realize that as much as I like to think that I'm a "womb to tomb" Catholic, pro-life supporter, I haven't been doing nearly enough on the conception to birth side of the equation. And that inconsistency, as I argued long ago in that university committee, weakens the whole cause for life.