Why I prayed for Fine Gael
On a Friday night I head for the airport and a flight to Dublin. The mysteries of time and space I find slightly fearful when you can have tea in London and supper in Dublin. I am not sure that man was meant to travel that fast, or rather, if he does, how his head is supposed to catch up with it.
I made my first visit to the new Terminal 2 building at Heathrow Airport, which is extremely smart, efficient and virtually indistinguishable from the modern Terminal 2 building which received me at Dublin Airport. Again I was struck by the homogeneity of the scenery, with the same impressive motorways and ring-roads as any major city, and hotels and commercial centres appended to these at intervals.
My hosts take me to one such hotel for a late supper. We find ourselves in the middle of a Fine Gael conference (the party responsible for sponsoring the change in the law on abortion and marriage). There is great irony or a certain Providence in this, since I have come to Dublin to talk to a gathering of Human Life International (HLI). The activists I am with are sad but realistic about the frightening collapse of the Church and the morals of civil society in Ireland.
Before we leave they invite me to join them in prayer for those at the conference, asking for the Holy Spirit to change their hearts. They suggest I bless the assembly. My English sensibilities are initially slightly troubled as to whether this is best done publicly. Afterwards I reflect that St Benedict’s Rule speaks of the instantissima oratione, a kind of prayer which a monk friend of mine says is the equivalent of shoving a foot in the door to stop it closing; seizing the instant to ask God for a favourable outcome.
Human Life International was founded in the US and claims to be the largest international pro-life organisation in the world, operating in 80 countries. Faithful to the Church’s teaching, it aims to make people aware of the interconnectedness within the “culture of death” between contraception and abortion. Its founder, Fr Paul Marx, a Benedictine, endorsed the prophetic view of Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, supporting its claim that “Abortion is the fruit of contraception, that foresight contraception often leads to hindsight abortion, and that massive contraception has caused increasing abortion worldwide.” He goes on: “Having visited and studied 85 countries, I challenge any bishop, priest, professor or scientist to show me the contrary. Abortion is the end point of the abuse of sex, which begins with the unleashing of the sexual urge by contraception.”
One might also argue that the same progression is behind the demand for so-called gay marriage. Once the procreation of life ceases to be regarded as intrinsic to the meaning of marriage it appears merely an arrangement of convenience or social cohesion for those who choose it; hence, logically, how can you deny this status to anyone in a liberal society?
HLI’s work consists of running crisis pregnancy centres, teaching young couples natural family planning, and forming priests and laity to spread and defend the Gospel of Life wherever possible. The crisis pregnancy centres are the front line. Since few women choose abortion freely, many pro-life organisations, such as HLI and the Good Counsel Network, try to be the first resource for a mother who is not sure whether she wants to keep her child. (It is important to be aware that most abortions are because the pregnancy in some way precipitates a crisis for the mother and are rarely the result of some clear-headed free choice, but rather out of fear or pressure, or an erroneous perception of the risk or consequences of bearing a child to term versus aborting it.)
They are directly countering what organisations such as Planned Parenthood are doing, who offer crisis pregnancy counselling but with a diametrically opposed view of what the crisis means and how to resolve it.
Fr Marx, who died in 1999, took great pride in being named “Public Enemy Number One” by Planned Parenthood. Thank God for the good people similarly taking the fight to the real enemy, the culture of death. They need more prayer and support if it is ever to be overcome, but they surely have a foot in the door.
Pastor Iuventus is a Catholic priest in London