Just prior to the November election, a quick chat after church turned tense.
“It’s not pro-life to put migrant children in cages,” said an older woman, her hands on her hips.
“Of course not!” I exclaimed, trying to remember at what point in our brief (and, for my part, distracted) conversation the topic had been introduced. With the entire world on edge, I’d been making a conscious effort to pray more and speak less, hoping to avoid fanning the flames of division without dousing the truth.
A few days later, another acquaintance reminded me the death penalty, revived by the federal government in recent years, was also a pro-life matter.
“Of course it is,” I said, shuddering at the brutal prospect of capital punishment.
Not long afterwards, an exasperated friend, whose life had been upended by COVID’s financial fallout, snapped that Christians needed to broaden their focus on combating abortion and “start taking care of the people already here.”
Reflecting on these exchanges, I found myself resenting the “either/or” options each person had essentially proposed. For them, standing against the U.S.’s more than 61 million abortions over the last five decades (and 72.6 million worldwide between 2015-2019 alone) was to also deny the rights of immigrants, death row prisoners, the impoverished and other marginalized groups.
In logic, such an all-or-nothing argument, which admits of no additional possibilities, is known as a “false dilemma” — and plenty of them are showing up in our news feeds, legislatures and everyday conversations, trying to pass themselves off as reality.
In our calmer and clearer moments, most of us know that life is far too complex, and human life far too precious, to entertain such fallacies. It’s when we enter that strange arena of “-isms,” broad generalizations, and adrenaline-fueled debates that we lose sight of our dignity as creatures made in the image and likeness of God.
At every age and at every stage — whether we are veiled in the womb, exhaling our last breath into eternity or somewhere in between — we are cherished by our Maker, and called to love and care for one another.
Amid this season, when we focus more deeply on our commitment to respect life, let us heed the words of a wise cloistered nun, who recently gave me a simple yet powerful way of seeking God’s grace to counter the culture of death.
“At the elevation of the host during Mass, I lift up my heart and ask the Lord to bless all aspects of the pro-life movement,” she said. “There are too many to name.”
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com, host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast and author of the forthcoming book “Stations of the Cross for Sexual Abuse Survivors.” Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Readings of the Holy Mass – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
NEXT: Accepting Jesus’ call to discipleship means changing our lives
Share this story