I have been called a fanatic many times. Some consider me such because of my vocation as a priest. Many more have called me a fanatic because of my focus on the pro-life cause. I’ve prayed and demonstrated before abortion centers. I have preached and spoken and written about this issue. Since 1973 I have worn a bracelet on my wrist bearing the date of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that, for all intents and purposes, permitted abortion in our country for any reason at any stage of life. That decision was issued on January 22nd of 1973. The bracelet also has symbols inscribed; the alpha and the omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, are on either side of a symbol that stands for life within woman. Since the alpha with the omega is a sign representing God, the symbols serve as a constant reminder to me that only God has a right to determine when life begins and when it ends. I have worn that bracelet for 32 years now, through 32 years of unparalleled legalized bloodshed, and I will not remove it until that holocaust is stopped.
Although I have been called a fanatic, as I think about it my sense is that, if anything, I have not been sufficiently devoted to this cause. It is true that, particularly in my role as pastor, there are many great needs that call for my attention. But when I think of the whole realm of social justice causes and the many areas of service, I cannot find one more fundamental, more direct assault upon everything I know and believe, than this state sanctioned slaughter.
I am haunted by questions of how I would have responded had I lived in the midst some of the other great social justice travesties of history. How would I have acted if I had lived in the time of slavery? What if I had been pastor of a church in a place where slavery was practiced? Would I have been willing to be considered a fanatic there as I expressed my opposition?
How would I have acted had I lived in Germany during World War II? What if I knew, as many did, what was happening to all the Jewish people and many others who were being transported into the Day after day they came, old and young, healthy and lame, laity, priests and sisters, but especially Jews, while all that ever left the camp was the constant sickening sweet effusion that wafted skyward from the chimneys and covered the sun? Would I have been willing to speak knowing that my fate would have been mingled with theirs?
Many don’t really know what is happening. There is a great conspiracy of silence and of double-speak. We don’t address such things in the media or among polite company. Therefore many do not know. But I know that an unborn child is not at any point just a blob of tissue, like a hangnail. This new life is a separate, self-directing, totally unique, human life. I know that this new slaughter of the innocents is happening in numbers that boggle the imagination. More than 11,700 in Dallas every year, 3,600 a day in the U.S. alone, one out of every four children conceived, are ruthlessly torn in pieces from the haven of their mother’s wombs and thrown in the garbage. I know—and I cannot make believe that it is otherwise.
I also know of the sheer panic many women experience when they learn that they are carrying a child they did not expect. I have walked with them as they struggled with what they feel is the loss of their dreams in the midst of a culture that sees children as burdens and often resents their intrusions upon our plans. I have also spoken with many who long years after choosing an abortion still feel the pain of their decision every single day.
This convinces me in my fanaticism that we have to do better in supporting women who face a crisis pregnancy. We must tell them the truth about abortion, as some are doing through sidewalk counseling outside the abortion centers. We need to let them know that there are other options besides killing. Help and support is available through services such as those offered at crisis pregnancy centers. We need to be there to assist post-abortive women and men, who also suffer the pain and guilt, to find healing through retreats such as Rachel’s Vineyard. And we need to continue to work to change laws that give a cloak of respectability to this ghoulish violence directed at our most helpless brothers and sisters.
It is hard being considered a fanatic, but it is even harder to be silent.
Submitted by Msgr. Mark Seitz
Pastor, St. Rita Catholic Church, Dallas, Texas
August 22, 2006
© 2007 Catholic Pro-Life Committee of North Texas. All rights reserved.