“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Monday, May 11, 2009

Alberta's 2009 March for Life

Last Thursday (May 7th) the second annual March for Life was held in Alberta's Capital city of Edmonton. It was supported by all Alberta's Catholic bishops, and attended by clergy from Eastern Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic denominations. Sadly representation from evangelical denominations were conspicuous in their absence. Still, hundreds of people from throughout the province showed up at the steps of the provincial legislature to hear speakers of which I was one. My speaking notes are at the end of this post for information of readers.

The crowd marched through the streets of downtown Edmonton. It stretched three and a half blocks long, four and five marchers deep, and required police escort as traffic and the hustle of commerce was disrupted while we snaked through the streets with placards and banners declaring the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Bystanders watched respectfully from the sidelines at the striking witness for Life before their eyes.

It was interesting but expected to note that Edmonton's major daily newspaper, The Edmonton Journal,did not report the event at all. According to their censorship of ideas the event did not occur. It was reminiscent of another pro-Life march that occurred in the city of Toronto in 1984. Twenty-five thousand people (police estimate of crowd size) silently march past the Morgentaler abortuary. Participants said it was eery to hear feet walking in silent protest of the killing of innocents occurring inside that terrible place. The silence was complete: The Globe and Mail, the CBC and other media did not report it. It was as though the massive protest of citizenry didn't happen. Shhh!

(Yet if a dozen abortion advocates, homosexuals or transvestites hold a demonstration and its news for days.)

When the marchers arrived back at the steps of the provincial legislature, I delivered the following short address:

We have entered a moral storm that’s breaking the ancient western moral code that governed the moral ethos of generations. Although people may have occasionally failed to behave the way they instinctively knew to be right, there was a consensus that the most vulnerable and weak of society must be protected.

For centuries, abortion was considered a serious crime. The Hippocratic Oath for doctors dating back thousands of years forbade abortion (and euthanasia). The Catholic Church has maintained the moral evil of abortion since the 1st Century. Ancient and persistent Common Law traditions dating back into the Middle Ages treated abortion as a “grave crime.” In 1802, England codified in to law what had been considered a criminal offence by custom, and made abortion a criminal act. What I am trying to illustrate to you is that considering abortion on demand as a right (as Canada and the US do) is a recent development and an aberration from the course of human history.

As I speak these words to you there are preborn children being slaughtered not more than 10 blocks away from us. These children are being killed because they are unwanted or inconvenient to their parents. All across Canada abortion can be obtained for any reason at all, or no reason whatsoever.

Now Canada is about to consider decriminalizing assisted suicide. It has already been embraced by Oregon, Washington state, Holland and elsewhere. This, too, is a deviation from centuries of Common law that discouraged, prohibited or punished assisting in the suicide of a person. Civilized and compassion societies did not kill their weakest or those who had sunk beneath the waves of circumstance.

Canada has abandoned its Christian roots. It has abandoned the ideal that there is something sacred to human life. The nation of my birth has coarsened to the point that I can scarcely recognize it. I feel like an alien in my own country. Public opinion polls consistently reveal that 70 % of Canadians agree with euthanizing (or helping the suicides) of the terminally or chronically ill people and the severely handicapped (people like me). That means that 7 out of 10 of my fellow Canadian citizens I pass on the street agree with helping me to kill myself if I despair of my situation. Apparently they believe it’s my freedom to choose.

But choices made from the perspective of abandonment, depression or desperation are not free at all. Do not talk to me about the freedom to choose unless all my choices are equally weighted and people have access to good supportive services and feel included within a tender embrace of community. There is no freedom of choice for the incurably ill person who feels the cold winds of abandonment or sees the world from beneath the dark veil of depression. There is no freedom to choose for a desperate woman is crisis pregnancy who is being pressured to have an abortion.

If Canadians really are “pro-choice”, why is only one choice so heavily funded? I propose a balanced approach. Provide equal funding for women who choose life for their babies. Provide funding to homes for unwed mothers where they can finish their education and receive prenatal care and life skills training. Provide funding for community and faith based partnerships with government for shepherding homes where women in crisis pregnancies can be mentored and establish or re-establish community connections. Give women positive choices not just negative choices.

Ensure modern techniques of palliation, pain management are strengthen in medical schools. Create government and community based hospice options where the dying and incurably sick are loved and included within their communities.

Until the choices for desperate people have equal attention, the idea of the freedom to choose is a hollow lie.

You are a critical minority who still believe in the sanctity, dignity and equality of all human life. Stand firm in the present Dark Age. Make your witness matter for a culture of life in a prevail culture of death. Do not tire or flag. Do not succumb to intimidation. You can turn the tide! I believe this with all my heart. I have to, the alternative is unthinkable.

Mark Pickup

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