When I was leaving the parish to return to studies, I received a lot of kind and encouraging words from parishioners. A few in particular have stuck in my mind. One of them went like this: "You're a very good priest, Father, but there's one thing wrong with you. You're not pro-life enough."
I was reminded of this over the past few days by an ad on the subway. It had a picture of a mother and child and proclaimed, "I chose life." The caption said something like, 'unexpected pregnancy, unexpected joy.' I'm not sure I remember it rightly, but it was something like that.
The first time I saw this ad, I thought to myself how good it was to see a pro-life message on one of the subway lines that is always full of students and young people. As I have been shocked and scandalized to notice, even at the 'catholic' school I attend, the false idea of a 'right' to abortion seems to be common. On one campus poster I saw, the so-called 'pro-choice' position was listed among activities of 'social justice.' I thought of taking a picture of the notice and publishing it, but then I decided it was none of my business. (Or was that a rationalization by a Catholic who isn't pro-life enough? After all, it is revealing--and even unmasking!--that abortion is sometimes absent from our catholic discourse on 'social justice.')
But back to the subway. A couple of days later I saw the same, "I chose life" ad. This time someone had taken a marker to it and written "Pro-Choice!" over it. (Perhaps accidentally, but not incidentally, one of the words cut through the baby's face.) At first it made me sad. The so-called 'pro-choice' position is so incomprehensible to me and speaks to me of the terrible confusion of our society. But as I reflected, I thought that perhaps the defacer of the ad wasn't mocking the pro-life position, but making an accusation against the ad. In the end the ad was pro-choice. It held up someone who made the right choice, who had chosen the good over the murderous and dehumanizing violence of our culture, but it still celebrated that there was a choice to be made.
At that moment I realized that I had been tricked. My original appreciation of the ad was partly misplaced. Yes, the ad celebrated the goodness and blessing of life, but embedded in it was the acceptance that life could be a matter of our choice. I didn't even think about that until I saw the ad written upon in the way I described.
Perhaps my friend was right, and that I'm not pro-life enough.