Friday, March 20, 2009

Pro-lifers Ready for the Fight

ROME, MARCH 19, 2009 ( In the short time he’s been in office, President Barack Obama has already enacted policies that threaten the lives of the most vulnerable not only in his own country but beyond the shores of the United States.

One of his very first decisions was to allow U.S. government funding of organizations that sponsor abortion provision across the globe. He also restarted federal funding of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) -- an organization that sponsors birth control, and has in the past promoted abortion and sterilization.

But for Austin Ruse, founding president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), an organization that lobbies the United Nations on pro-life issues, these crises are not moments of discouragement, but cues to take action. “Right after the election, my staff were a little despondent,” recalled Ruse, who was passing through Rome last week. “But I made the point that this is going to be the best four years of their lives.”

“Rarely in the history of the Church will people have been so needed as we are at the United Nations,” he said. “This is almost as good as the second century because nobody can be wasted, there is just so much work to do.”

Ruse said he has asserted for a long while that Obama, just like the Clintons, will pursue more radical policies at the United Nations than anywhere else because people pay little attention to the organization, particularly when it comes to social policy. “It means he [Obama] can be his true self on social policy and pay off a lot of debts to the hard left on abortion, homosexual marriage and a whole host of things,” Ruse explained. “And all of this is coming to pass.”

He pointed out that only days earlier, the Obama administration had endorsed radical international guidelines on HIV/AIDS, which calls for criminalizing critics of homosexuality. And he warned of further challenges brought about by current international crises.

“Sadly, at a time like this, when there is widespread social dislocation, uncertainty, financial panic and war, this is precisely when our social enemies make the most progress because they’re busy while everyone is looking at the other way,” he explained. “Our opponents on these issues almost never ever sleep, so they look upon these difficult times as nothing but an opportunity to further their cause.”

Ruse has seen it all before, of course, during the Clinton administration in the 1990s. And he wasn’t for one moment taken in by Obama’s talk of reaching across the aisle. “What consensus means for the left is talking to the farther left,” he said. “It never really means talking to us.”

Now in its 11th year, C-FAM, together with a coalition of other pro-life organizations, has had numerous successes over the years, from helping to prevent abortion becoming a universally recognized human right, to thwarting attempts to redefine the family and gender. Now, one of its other major bugbears is the push toward global governance, also expected to gain ground under Obama. Ruse is about to launch a blog called "The New Sovereigntists" on this theme -- just one of no doubt many future initiatives to draw attention to the real dangers of this administration.

“The pro-life movement is determined to fight him [Obama] on every single thing related to our issues,” said Ruse. “We’re not going to give an inch, and we’re going to repeatedly paint him for what he is, which is the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States.”

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No More Letters

A group of American pro-life activists who visited the Vatican earlier this month were likewise determined to draw attention to serious concerns over the Obama administration -- but their attention was more directed at the Church.

Under the name "Oves Sine Pastore" (Sheep Without a Shepherd), the group called in on various dicasteries, and asked senior officials to put pressure on U.S. bishops to stand up vigorously in defense of life in the face of Obama’s liberal social agenda.

They believe the reason Obama was elected was the fruit of some bishops not standing up in the public square to properly defend the Church’s teachings. The group therefore asked three things of the Vatican: to replace certain archbishops serving in key sees who are lax on these issues, to stop serving Communion to pro-abortion politicians, and to halt the “cycle of mediocrity and disobedience” among some bishops by appointing orthodox replacements.

“These bishops will not teach what the Church herself teaches in the magisterium,” says Ed Faddour, a pensioner from Iowa. By not defending the Church’s pro-life teachings, he adds, there is a direct effect on the daily life of Catholic families and a consequent “emptying out of churches.”

The group, some of whose members said they had been arrested by their bishop for handing out pro-life leaflets in a diocesan parking lot, believes that two shackles are thwarting the mission of the American Church: fear and corruption. Too many bishops, they say, fear bad press, angry parishioners, not being invited to important engagements, offending large donors, losing their reputation, or exposing something wrong in their own lives.

Joseph Landry, one of the group’s younger members, says it’s time the Church held up heroic figures who will stand up for pro-life issues. “We’re not lukewarm, we’re white hot, and we’re ready to follow just as long as we have a hero at the front,” he says.

The group was led by Randall Terry, the outspoken pro-life activist and founder of Operation Rescue. A convert to the Church from evangelical Protestantism who has the fiery zeal of an evangelical preacher, Terry says some of the “greatest roadblocks” to ending abortion are found in diocesan offices.

The way forward, he believes, is to ensure bishops and priests pass a three-point litmus test: Has he preached against birth control? Has he made a public stand against abortion? And will he refuse to serve Communion to openly pro-abortion Catholics such as politicians? If he doesn’t fulfill these requirements, says Terry, “he doesn’t have the metal to wear red -- to be a martyr.”

Terry, who stresses that 50 million babies have been killed through surgical abortions since Roe v. Wade, says Obama is “behaving like Herod” by threatening to forbid Catholic doctors the right to refuse to perform abortions on conscience grounds. And he adds such a policy is “all the fruit of Catholic bishops’ silence and fear.”

He believes hope for change rests with the Holy See which, he says, has an opportunity, by appointing the right bishops, “to change the course of history” and “show the world they mean business about stopping child killing and standing up to the tyrants of our age.”

Although the group met several high-ranking officials, they weren’t granted an audience with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But the redoubtable Terry is unfazed. “We’ll be back with a larger delegation,” he says. “The time for simply writing letters has passed.”