Letter to the Editor | Friday, October 11, 2019
There is a quote attributed to St. Teresa of Avila that says, “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours.” As Catholics, we are called to be Christ’s hands, body, and heart at work in, and in relationship with, the whole world.
But what does it mean to be living, breathing reminders of a God whose outstretched arms opened wide for all of humanity?
As pro-life Catholic women, it means that we strive to celebrate the lives of the unborn. We work to meet women who feel as though abortion is their only choice with only compassion and healing, never shame nor condemnation. We celebrate the strength of women who experience unexpected pregnancy and seek to give them the resources they need to choose life. We know we are asked to champion those excluded because of a disability or developmental difference. We are called to encounter those experiencing homelessness and poverty, see the refugee and the immigrant and stand with all those who are targeted by violence and hatred because of their race, class or religion. This does not — it absolutely cannot — exclude those targeted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We believe that this is what it means to be the hands and heart of Christ: to fight for the lives of all human beings, not just a select few. If any human beings are made to feel like their lives do not have value, then we, as a pro-life movement, will have failed.
It has been made clear to us this week that we have failed our community and that we need to clarify the pro-life response to the LGBTQ+ community: you are welcome here. If we do not make room in our home and our heart for you, then we fail to live out radical hospitality, and so fail to be Christ to you.
The exchange of letters and poems in the Observer over the past week calls these failures to our attention. We will have failed the Notre Dame family if members of it, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community, feel excluded or discriminated against. We will have failed our community if we offer silence or judgment in the face of violence and hurt, when what is needed is compassion and healing.
Our silence has been deafening. If we remain complacent and complicit in rhetoric that promotes a culture of discrimination and prejudice, a rhetoric that can create real and lasting trauma, we fail to love as we ought to. When we are silent, the holistic and consistent nature that a true Culture of Life asks of us cannot thrive and grow. We apologize to every person who has been wounded by any of these failures.
How do we use our hands, Christ’s hands, to build a better culture from here?
We do intentionally seek to defend the most vulnerable, and we must remain true to our word. We speak up about the personhood of the unborn, but we affirm that the dignity of the human person, and the fight for it, does not disappear once a child is born. It must continue through every stage of life, for every human being.
Perhaps this is idealistic. We will certainly continue to stumble. But the fight to be authentically pro-life for all life, is one that we refuse to abandon.
We can do better. We know that we have no choice but to do better. And we thank each person who has spoken out against injustice, who has shared their grief and hurt, and who has opened our eyes to the ways in which the pro-life movement, if it fails to love with consistency, will fail to reach the marginalized and vulnerable in our communities.
We resolve to celebrate every single life, as irreplaceable, unrepeatable, and unique. We will mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, grieve for those whose lives have been taken by abhorrent violence, and stand with all those, on this campus and in this world, who have been made to feel as though their lives are worth less than others. When we fail, we ask you to remind us of just Who it is we are meant to be, and who it is we are called to fight for.
Christ opened wide His arms to us. As we accept this call to be His body, His voice, and His heart, we open wide our arms to all who wish to join us.
The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.