Last night I was watching ITV 1's broadcasting of the 2002 movie, Bloody Sunday which deals with the massacre by British Army forces of fourteen Civil Rights demonstrators during a peaceful rally in Derry, Northern Ireland, on the 30th January 1972 - we are coming up to the 40th anniversary of the killings. I had never seen it, so I took the opportunity.
As an Irishman it was difficult to watch, particularly when you know that for most of those forty years those who died were branded as terrorists by the British government, and that following a travesty of an enquiry - the Widgery Tribunal, the soldiers were not only exonerated, but some of them actually decorated by Queen Elizabeth. It was particularly hard to watch as men who went to the assistance of the wounded waving white hankies in a gesture of peace, were shot in the back by the soldiers. I found myself wondering last night, if the Queen should not have been a bit more forceful and explicit in her speech in Dublin Castle last May. The things she regretted perhaps merited something stronger than a general statement, particularly in the light of the fact that she bestowed her honours on men who gunned down innocent civilians.
But we must leave the past and move on - at the end of the day not even a queen dressed in sackcloth and ashes kneeling outside the Guildhall in Derry will bring those people back, and as Christians we must forgive. That day sparked a conflict which cost the lives of thousands of innocent men and women on both sides, and there was no excuse for that: there are many others who should don the sackcloth and ashes and make serious reparation for their deeds. In the wake of a murder spree that lasted over thirty years, there are many who must come to forgive and get on with their lives, difficult as that can be.
In the light of all this, at this time of year, our thoughts go overseas to the US as the Church and various organisations mark another attack on human life - the legalisation of abortion in 1973. Over these days people mark the anniversary all over the US with numerous events and rallies, reaching a climax when hundreds of thousands will travel to Washington DC for the commemorative ceremonies on the 22nd and 23rd January: the annual March for Life. The highlights of these events in Washington will be Holy Mass and a Vigil in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and the rally down the Mall to the Capitol building.
The March for Life is one of the biggest, if not the biggest rally in Washington in each year and, as always, completed ignored by the media. A few pro-abortion protesters will turn out, so if there is a news report they will get most of the limelight - the usual media "objectivity".
What I find most interesting is that like the relatives of those gunned down in the streets of Derry who were trying for years to bring the full truth of Bloody Sunday out into the open, the pro-life cause has been struggling for a similar time to bring the full truth about abortion into the open. In recent years those involved in the pro-life cause see themselves as part of another Civil Rights movement - and that is exactly what they are, though there are those who dispute it.
There is no more fundamental civil right than the right to life. Indeed, if the right to life is denied to any one person, that in effect nullifies every other right, and we give to our legislators the power to strip away any or all of our rights should they see the need to do so - whenever they want.
Those who support abortion are blind to this and are so because those who legislate for abortion are of the same mind set, and they have little to fear - for now. But the tide could turn - indeed it is already turning and the monster is beginning to devour its young. When you look at abortion figures you see this. For example, in many parts of the world, most of the victims of abortion are girls - aborted because their parents want a boy. What does the radical feminist movement say to that? Nothing. They are happy to allow, and indeed ignore, a holocaust of girls in order to preserve "a woman's right to choose". Imagine a world without women: it won't happen, but we could see, in many parts of the world, a serious reduction in the number of women and what will that do for women's rights?
Another possibility: some scientists, financed by the homosexual lobby, are looking for a gay gene which would prove that homosexuals are born with their orientation, and so this discovery would further enhance their arguments. If a gay gene were found (it hasn't by the way, no evidence at all so far), it may, in places, lead to a holocaust of children who had this gene to prevent the birth of "gay children". I think that is very likely, and we may see the homosexual issue resolved, not by means of conversion or normalisation, but by extermination. I believe someone once referred to such as methodology as the "Final Solution".
Other cases: the disabled are disappearing, but not through the eradication of conditions, but the eradication of those with them. The number of children with Downs Syndrome is dropping considerably - that can only be through abortion. And abortion is used as the handmaid of inhuman scientific processes like IVF. The recent case in Australia where a healthy twin was aborted in place of its sick sibling is a fine example of that (the media called it "tragic" - that's rich!). Every day somewhere in the world babies are being aborted because, thanks to IVF, there are too many children in the womb - space needs to be created. Who dies? The one nearest the scalpel.
In Scripture we hear of the crime that cries to heaven for vengeance - surely abortion is one of these, and the blood of the innocent cries out to God. Revenge is not something Christians, or any pro-life people should even consider: God will deal with those who are guilty of this massacre - those who carry out and promote abortion (legislators too, by the way). We must pray for these people for, if they do not repent, their souls may well be lost. As Christians and members of the pro-life movement, like the victims of violence in Northern Ireland, we must forgive, but also work for justice and try to bring an end to this senseless and meaningless murder of the innocent.
As for us in Ireland, as I said before, I think abortion is coming. At least one of the two parties in government favours the introduction of abortion: the other party has many members who are also pro-abortion, so the time is right for the pro-abortion movement in Ireland. The Church is weak, and as the late journalist Mary Raftery (the one who broke some of the abuse stories) said: now is the time to bring in abortion when the Catholic Church is so weak it will not be able to object.
That is true: if abortion came in tomorrow there might not even be a whimper from the Church in Ireland - the media would just rehearse some of the abuse reports again and silence her. This is a situation which needs to be dealt with quickly - if the government is planning legislation, we must be ready to oppose it, and use whatever we have to meet the challenge, including the excommunication of Catholic legislators who vote for any such bill.
This is the time to start building alliances both within and outside the country to prepare for this struggle. Our good pro-life friends in the US can be of assistance here. If abortion is not legalised, well and good, but we must be ready. Perhaps if the government sees a strong pro-life movement ready for battle (and many voters in their ranks), they might think twice, after all, legislators do not live on bread alone, but on every vote that is cast in their favour in the ballot box, and most of them live under the perpetual fear of famine. Time to remind them that the next time they skip over to the larder, they may find it empty.
And now, a prayer for all victims of violence - those who died in conflicts, those who were abused, and the millions of innocent children killed in the womb or destroyed in labs; and let us not forget the millions of children enslaved in suspended animation in the freezers of IVF clinics around the world.
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.
(Blessed John Paul II)