I’m a pro-life activist and a convert, and I’m not convinced. I write this as a Catholic father of seven, three of whom will be confirmed in just a few days.
My family and I went to our old parish for Sunday Mass on Mother’s Day in order to celebrate the holiday with a young single mother we are ministering to. We were excited to see old friends. We shuffled into our old pew, when we saw state senator Will Espero, advocate of the culture of death, slither into church with his girlfriend.
This is the same Espero who, when the Hawaii Democrat Party chastised one of its own for even suggesting there could be room for pro-life Democrats in the party, said that abortion was a “non-negotiable plank of the platform,” openly acknowledged that pro-choice women were the “foundation of the Democratic Party for decades,” and lauded the fact that Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion, said nothing.
Yes, the same Espero who, when the same party released its 2016 platform openly affirming the “right” to have abortions paid for by state and private actors, said nothing.
And just recently, the same Espero who said nothing in response to these blatant affirmations of death actually spoke up and said something—in support of physician-assisted suicide, which he voted against sixteen years ago, but apparently finds acceptable now.
Life is not some side gig of the Catholic Church. The Church is the mystical Body of Christ. It is by nature full, and affirming of life. The Gospel is the gratuitous giving of God’s divine life to us so that we might live. The source and summit of that life is the Eucharist, the very Body and Blood of Christ, which from the days of Saint Paul we have been warned to never receive while in mortal sin or scandal: “You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.”
The Church’s teaching on life could not be clearer. Saint Pope John Paul II declared it to be “unchanged and unchangeable.” The same is true of its teaching on suicide, assisted or otherwise.
Paragraph 2287 of the Catechism is likewise crystal clear: “Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged.”
And in case the Scriptures or the 2,000-year-old Tradition of the Church aren’t clear enough, Section 915 of Canon Law leaves no room for doubt: “Those…obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
On many matters, Catholics are allowed “prudential judgment.” Not on abortion. Not on assisted suicide. Not on the matters on which Will Espero has either been a cowardly mute, or a ravenous advocate.
Matters of life and death are not political. They go to the core of what it means to be a human being made in the Image of God. The Church is not a political party whose positions on fundamental issues can change or evolve. It is the Bride of Christ, and for 2,000 years, it has stood for the sanctity of human life.
And yet, so many Catholic Bishops and clergy are silent when the time comes to do their duty.
I wasn’t always a Catholic. When I was a young man, I was an atheist. I was also, even then, in the pro-life movement.
But I despised the Catholic Church. I saw the laity and the hierarchy as aiding and abetting the cause of abortion. Sure, there were kind and pious old men and women who joined the pro-life movement. But the Bishops, Catholic elected officials, and the “beautiful Catholics” (my euphemism for the rich and powerful permitted to sit at the WASP table) were all mealy-mouthed at best, or aggressively pro-abortion at worst.
My road from passionate atheist to overzealous, Christian, hyper-evangelical Catholic was a long one with many twists and turns.
Along the way I reinvented several heresies. It turned out that my favorite one had a name: Arianism. But wrestling with Arianism led to the final turn in the road: reading the Church Fathers. I was especially inspired by Athanasius, a rabble rouser who was kicked out of his church multiple times by the Arians for standing up for the deity of Christ.
The key event in my life, which you can read about here, launched me into a career of full-time pro-life work. The short version is that I was an irreligious high school drop-out, army enlister, and had a pregnant girlfriend from a prominent Catholic family—whose father forced her to get an abortion.
In the battle for life, I wish I could say I finally found myself surrounded by trusty allies when I entered the Church. But, as this Mother’s Day reminded me, that the battle rages on right in the pews at Mass.
On Sunday I personally approached Espero to ask him not to present himself for communion, and to publicly repent for betraying the most vulnerable members of our human family—the child in the womb, the elderly, the disabled, and the sick.
So here I was, the father of a child aborted thanks to the cruelty of a powerful Catholic man, watching as another Catholic enemy of the unborn received the Eucharist–directly under my parish’s banner that reads “We Respect Life from Conception to Natural Death.”
This happens all over the country.
The hierarchy must end this false compassion for politicians whose careers are often based on violating the dignity of the most vulnerable. Whether they are powerful like Joe Biden, or petty like Will Espero, such politicians who receive the Eucharist commit sacrilege, and bring grave scandal upon the conscience of every post-abortive woman, and the other brave souls who are fighting against the spirit of the age.
Perhaps it’s time for the laity, like Athanasius of old, to stand up against the Esperos of this world, and draw a line in the sand.
The Eucharist isn’t a weapon, but neither is it a participation trophy. It is the source and summit of the Christian life.
Woe to us if we forget this.