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What About My Freedom?

Various states are passing laws supporting life in the womb. Life is a precious gift that begins at conception. This is not simply something I believe in faith. In my article, “Biology Makes Me Pro-Life”, I provide a non-religious reason for knowing that life begins at conception. Life is a precious gift. Last spring I offered a series of webinars, Treating Life with Dignity and Love, presenting our Catholic understanding of what it means to be consistently prolife from the moment of conception till natural death and all points in between.

Those who support abortion talk about in terms of the freedom to choose. They say a woman must be free to choose to do what she wants with her body, including abortion. Pregnancy is not an illness to be eliminated. While a child in the womb is totally dependent on its mother, the child is alive and must be treated as a human being. Offering a secular argument, even if the child wasn’t “human” yet (I firmly believe it is a human being), one would not allow a woman to choose to cutoff a healthy arm. Why would we allow a woman to eliminate a healthy baby?

Do we have free will? Yes. For example, in sending out the Twelve on mission (Luke 9:1-6), Jesus says, “And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet” (verse 4). The Twelve are sent out to proclaim the gospel. Jesus does not tell them to force our faith on anyone. If people do not listen, if they do not welcome what the Twelve teach, the Twelve are to move on to others who will listen.

Yes, people are free to make their own choice. However this freedom is not absolute. Even some relativists say you are free to do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt anyone. You can’t steal because it harms another. We have laws against murder. You can’t kill someone just because you don’t like them.

Furthermore, if one wants someone to be truly free to make their own choice, one must understand what their choices are and what the result of that choice can bring. Thus, we must be allowed to present our side or the person is not free to choose life.

Here I turn to the title I gave this article, “What About My Freedom?”. First, I want to talk about my freedom in regards to choosing to be prolife. In exercising my freedom, I do not want my tax dollars to pay for abortions. In the past, the Hyde amendment prohibited using federal funds to pay for abortion. Yet, federal budget proposals this year do not include the Hyde amendment. What happened to my freedom?

Regarding my freedom, the second point I want to make is my freedom to speak about what I believe. What I want to say about our Catholic values is not hate speech against those who disagree. In fact, I offer it in love. I want to help people do what is good for them and avoid what is bad for them. Here I turn to a passage in the Bible I have used before, Ezekiel 3:17-21, commonly referred to as the Parable of the Watchman or the Parable of the Sentinel. Here the Lord tells us that we have a responsibility to offer the truth to others. If we see others sinning, we are to speak up. If they continue to sin, the consequences and punishment for their sin is upon them, but we are innocence. However, if we do not speak up, we share in their sin.

Yes, they have freedom in making their choice. However, St. Pope John Paul II helps us understand where the best use of freedom lays when he says, “Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought” (Pope John Paul II, “Homily of his holiness John Paul II” during his Apostolic Journey to America. Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore. October 8, 1995. http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paulii/en/homilies/1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19951008_baltimore.html, italics my emphasis).

Ask God what He is calling you to say. Let the Holy Spirit lead you (see Mark 13:11). Maybe God wants you to say a lot. Maybe God wants you to only say a little. Maybe God just wants you to tell others that you disagree with them and believe that life is a gift.

What about the politicians? Speak to them in accord with what God asks of you and follow what Paul writes to Timothy, “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Peace,

Fr. Jeff

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