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Faith and Culture: Silver Linings

6/3/2003 - 11:05 PM PST

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By: Deacon Keith A Fournier
( c ) Third Millennium, LLC

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America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts--a child--as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. (Mother Theresa -- "Notable and Quotable," Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14)

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It was a cold January Monday in the first year of the Third Christian Millennium, 2000. My heart was burdened as I exited Union Station in Washington, D.C., on my way to the National Memorial for the Pre-Born and Their Mothers and Fathers.

This event, which always coincides with the March for Life, is sponsored annually by the National Clergy Council, an ecumenical alliance of Christian clergy. I serve with the NCC as its Catholic representative on their Executive Council. "Twenty seven years," I thought to myself, "of unrestricted abortion on demand --my God when will it end?"

Carrying my clerical vestments, I passed dozens of people from all over America, who, braving the cold, came to stand in solidarity with the innocent children, who have no voice but ours. In giving these children, mothers and all the victims of this national tragedy our voice, we champion the major human rights’ issue of our age, the right to life and the freedom to be born.

Many whom I passed in the street recognized the symbols of my clerical service which were draped over my arm, my vestments, and greeted me with smiles and the steely determination that has characterized this struggle for justice.

I rounded the corner to the Senate Hart Building, the site of this year's ecumenical service. Upon entering Room 216 where the service was beginning, I was immediately impressed not only with the number of participants, but with the variety of Christians represented.

I was there, along with Father Frank Pavone and Deacon Hiram Haywood, as Catholic clergy representatives. On the dais, along with us, was our sister and then a fairly new member of the Catholic Church, Miss Norma McCorvey (formerly Jane Roe of the infamous Roe vs Wade decision), who is now a prophetic witness for life.

On each side of us were clergy of most Christian confessions and communions: Orthodox, Protestant, evangelical, self-professed "Free Church," Pentecostals and a large Messianic Jewish contingent. This gathered assembly represented the breadth of the larger Christian community that has mobilized around this issue.

All of us were there, together, to mourn, to repent, to intercede, and to worship the Author of Life, Who alone can bring an end to this modern slaughter of the "holy innocents." As the music began, the burden of my heart seemed to lift with the melody. The presence of the Lord of life began to fill the room.

I have dedicated first my lay apostolate, and my clerical service to evangelization, apologetics, and authentic ecumenism. In fact, I took as my own personal "motto" at my diaconal ordination, "Ut Unum Sint" (May They Be One), the name of the profound encyclical written by John Paul II taken from the high priestly prayer of Jesus recorded in the seventeenth chapter of St. John's gospel.

I have drawn my own passionate conviction concerning both the essential requirement for Christian unity, and its inevitability, from the words of John Paul the Great. I believe he has not only led us into a great new missionary age, but is himself, in his extraordinary writings, the "first fruits" of a new Patristic age, and he proclaims prophetically the coming "family re-union" of the Church.

On this blustery morning I thought of the words of another great Church leader, from another great missionary age,"…let unity, the greatest of all goods, be your preoccupation." Thus wrote Ignatius, the third Bishop of Antioch, to Polycarp, his brother Bishop in Smyrna. The year was 107 A.D., the beginning of the first Christian Millennium.

Those Christians also lived in a "culture of death." Roman society practiced the killing not only of children in the womb, but of newborns, through a practice called "exposure." The holy man wrote these words while traveling to Rome, under the persecution of Trajan, the leader of that "culture of death." There he would be thrown to the wild beasts and be martyred for the Lord. Remember, it was in Antioch that they were first called Christians, St. Luke tells us (Acts 11:26).

There does seem to be a precedent for earning that name through pouring our lives out for Jesus Christ in the midst of a hostile culture. It was Ignatius who first called these early Christians "Catholic." He insisted that ...

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