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What keeps the Pro-Life crowd going?

Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology fated to push a boulder up a mountain only to have it roll back down each night, might seem to be the right image for those who struggle to change Canada's current abortion policy. Year after year since abortion was legalized by the Trudeau government in 1969, pro-lifers have prayed, protested and lobbied Parliamentarians, only to find their efforts come to naught. In fact, since the Canadian Supreme Court removed all limitations on abortions in 1988, almost one-third of all pregnancies in Canada today ends with an abortion.

It does not even seem as if all the prayers, demonstrations and policy statements have budged the 'sensus fidelium' of Canadians either. In 2001, 54% of Canadians were in favour of woman's right to obtain an abortion. After a decade of effort, that level of support has hardly changed – standing at 52% according to a 2010 EKOS poll. Pro-lifers can be forgiven if they believe that they suffer the same affliction as Sisyphus: destined to fight for a change in the law and culture that always seems out of reach.

Yet they do not stop. Indeed they believe that they cannot quit trying to inculcate what Pope John Paul II called a 'culture of life'. For them, the issue of abortion is not a question of 'choice'... it is a matter of 'life' and 'death'. Just as William Wilberforce was indefatigable in his crusade to end slavery in the early 19th century, spurred on by his moral conviction that change would eventually come, so too are the partisans of the Pro-Life movement inspired to continue their efforts for that they see as an equally righteous cause on behalf of the most vulnerable in society, the unborn.

We also fight for cause of life because those promoting abortion and euthanasia are a threat to all citizens. A poster in a previous comment thread here on the Holy Post who goes by the name of 'Madic' made the eminently clear when s/he posted that life is a 'privilege, not a right'. Rarely do the promoters of the Culture of Death so plainly expose themselves, for this statement reveals that they believe that they have the right to decide who merits this 'privilege' as well as those who do not! This face of evil has been seen before, under the Nazi and Stalinist regimes. Pro-lifers must resist their agenda lest untold numbers find their licence to life revoked. 'Self preservation' is not the purest of motives, but it certainly is an effective one!

What will make the difference? What if anything might turn the tide in their favour?

Advances in technology is providing additional weapons to the pro-life arsenal. Sonograms have pierced the veil of the uterus and now offer images which demonstrates the human form and likeness of what abortion advocates prefer to call a 'fetus' or 'zygote'. The demographic realities of a birth rate insufficient to sustain future medicare services and pensions might also change the prevailing opinion supporting unlimited abortion rights. Pro-lifers have reason to hope. History teaches that nothing is held more firmly than ' common consensus' until the moment it changes. The examples of Wilberforce and Martin Luther King who each worked to overcome the common held wisdom of their day in the face of long odd. Both of them drew upon wells of faith and belief to sustain them in their darkest days, much as the pro-life cause does today.

Perhaps if religious leaders begin to put their full institutional weight behind the efforts of pro-life advocates in a more tangible way. Position papers and policy statements do not mean nearly as much as seeing a Bishop walking in a 'Life Chain', or leading public prayer events such as the '40 Days for Life' campaign.

Who knows? With unswerving effort and devotion, the Pro-life cause might leave Sisyphus behind and, with the dedication of the 'Energizer Bunny', they will eventually push the abortion boulder over the peak of the mountain.

(Fr. Tim Moyle, a Roman Catholic Priest of the Diocese of Pembroke is a frequent participant on the Holy Post. He regularly blogs at and participates in pro-life events.)


  1. Good comments Father Tim. It does at times seem futile to continue to fight a losing battle, where we have tasted defeat time after time especially in the political field.

    You did hit upon an interesting point that needs to be put forth and that is the reluctance of Church leaders, both Catholic and Protestant to get involved in the pro-life movement. Their token support does little to enhance the cause, and they certainly need to "walk the walk".

    But it is indeed by the Grace of God that sustains us in our fight. On our own resources we are helpless!


  2. From your post Fr. Moyle & I quote:

    "Perhaps if religious leaders begin to put their full institutional weight behind the efforts of pro-life advocates in a more tangible way. Position papers and policy statements do not mean nearly as much as seeing a Bishop walking in a 'Life Chain', or leading public prayer events such as the '40 Days for Life' campaign."

    How can a person take or listen to a Bishop or priests, about the evils of abortion when the clergy & others in the Catholic Church keep covering-up & keep on turning a blind eye to sex abuse (cases) against children & youth. All those delays & stalling tactics are so wrong, so shameful & so criminal.

    Your followers (seem to) care more about the unborn than concerning yourselves about the victims of abuse. You are failing the grade in facing the reality of the importance of this evil within your brotherhood. Is the abortion issue a deflection from the real crimes that the, your Church is guilty of & took part in; I wonder & I believe so.

    This has to be one of many obstacles, your group faces in their agenda (all pro-life groups) in your so call ‘right to life’ campaign for the unborn.

    Usually, when people speak to a priest at Church or at any other place, these priests only hear what people want them to hear. It doesn't mean they are telling these priests want they really think. People know full well priests will follow the only SAFE course of action they know of, that is to do damage control for the good of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

    People are fed up with clergy who just want to pacify & give a ban aide solution to this pedophile molester problem in the Church. The Church downplays world-wide these sex clergy abuse scandals. You have numerous followers that believe that all is well & will give all the support to the Church no matter what. The latter is really scary & unbelievable.

    Nevertheless, many of the laity are waking up & catching on more & more & see the Church as it is when it comes to dealing with this epidemic abuse thing. The reality is clear, the Church is not doing enough to help the victims & the Church does come across arrogant & they only care to protect their own image & assets.

    Why are you surprise when you hear stuff like, *how dare you tell us what to do about abortions when you can’t even get your own house in order*.

    Those empty pews in your churches may be filled with many unseen Saints but remember these Saints do not put church envelopes or money in the collection baskets!

    I quote a survivor of religious abuse Kim Michele Richardson from; *The Unbreakable Child*.

    “This topic of clergy abuse is no longer a topic, it’s a humanity crisis!”

    This clergy abuse issue is not going to go away any time soon Fr. Moyle. Father, you can share that piece of news with your brother priests.

    I pray, you & other priests deal with this issue because you are part of that inner circle the priesthood, you can help in ways many others cannot.

    I humbly give thanks that I am able to write this post.

  3. Dear Fr Tim,
    While I agree with some points you make in the article, I wonder if the headline is not quite on the mark. Yes, there is still much work to be done by the pro-life side, but to suggest that they are stuck in neutral is odd.

    We've had some 40 odd years of abortion in Canada now and it is starting to show. The most obvious evidence comes from the emotional/psychological strain most women experience post-abortion. The growing numbers of women turning for help to organizations such as 'Silent No More' is just one example of the the changes in attitude gaining traction in Canada.

    Furthermore, as evidenced recently at Carleton U, the younger generations of pro-lifers are diverse, articulate and unafraid to challenge the status quo, making the establishment extremely uncomfortable. This is a truly exciting turn of events.

    If you've ever attended the March for Life in Ottawa, you might have noticed that every year the crowd increases in number thanks to the large numbers of students from Catholic schools that attend. Isn't this a major step forward?

    Finally, as to your hope that the clergy get involved institutionally, I must say, "I wish!" Sincerely. However, just like during the time of slavery, when the Popes issued Bull after Bull condemning it, the clergy (largely Bishops) seem to be in no rush to get their hands dirty. Anyone who is engaged in pro-life work, has long ago stopped waiting for the institutional church to get on-board.

    In short, the answer lies in the slow but steady change of heart in society.

  4. Elenka: Thank you for your comments. I just point out that I have no control over the headline. It is chosen by the editors at the NP. I had titled it as it appears here on my blog (What Keeps the Pro-Life Crowd Going?)

    Fr. Tim


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