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Questions and Answers

Reading across the different responses on your Q&A to questions concerning social issues, I am a little confused about what exactly we should be doing about the abortion issue. Here in Ireland, thus far abortion is still technically illegal (although we have anecdotal reports that illegal abortions are carried out in our hospitals and in fact both the morning after pill and contraceptives are widely available), and the work of mainly Catholic campaigners and politicians, as well as the declining influence of the Church, have, in my opinion, kept the open season from being declared on the unborn. Are we just buying time, or are we wasting time in an illusion? If the prolife movement closed down, I think abortion would be introduced into Ireland in the morning or soon after. What then should Catholics be doing about abortion, particularly in those few countries where it has not been introduced? Should we not be concerning ourselves with trying to ensure the law protects the unborn and trying to show the world the horror of abortion? In Ireland, there is still a pretty strong prolife ethos, which can be preserved through a continuous dialogue with the public, to counteract the propaganda of those who wish to see it introduced. Or should we just let the society collapse in a heap, and instead concentrate on being the very best Christian witnesses we can be, and pray for the unborn instead, including outside the clinics and referral agencies, which is very effective? I know there is a danger of narcissism and of people ‘losing themselves’ in the prolife cause, in a way that you have described elsewhere on your site, but to do nothing in terms of action, either campaigning, political lobbying, marches for life, or street educational outreach, would strike me as a dereliction of duty, failing to do things that could be done and have saved lives in the past. Having said that, things do seem to be going to pot in general, but I still have hope for the abortion situation in Ireland. What is the best way to keep abortion out of Ireland?

Outline of the Answer
• Lament
• Christian Identity
• The Politicizing of Christianity
• The Christian Task: To Become Christian
• Rediscovering Christian Identity

The prophet Jeremiah (12:4) asked a similar question to God Himself: How long must the earth mourn, the green of the countryside wither? because of the wickedness of those who dwell in it . . . because they say, “God does not see our ways.

Jeremiah, though, was not alone in lamenting the evil in the society around him; other prophets, too, cried out to God. In compassion, God spoke to them; He promised relief—He gave them His word. And when this Word was made flesh, what did He tell us?


He proposed another parable to them. “The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”


—Matthew 13:24-30

This is a hard thing for us to hear. Christ tells us that patience and trust in God must be fundamental to Christian life. When confronted with evil, Christians must not try to eradicate it themselves, but must wait for the hand of God to give judgment. This is hard to hear because impatience and human pride so characterize the modern world that Christians, in identifying so much with the world around them, have lost their identity as Christians.

Christian Identity

In the early years of the Church—indeed, during the first few centuries of Christianity—Christians lived in the midst of pagan and heathen societies. Consequently, Christians survived by strengthening their Christian identity. That is, their focus became the definition and preservation of true Christian doctrine. 

This focus on doctrine, however, was not just a matter of abstract theology. It applied directly to practical matters of everyday life. Just look at the epistles of Saint Paul, who was among the first to put this doctrine into writing so as to defend and preserve true Christian conduct in the early Christian communities.   

Read an excerpt about the Christian in the world 
from an ancient letter to Diognetus

But (especially in regard to your concerns about abortion) look also at two early Christian documents: the Didache and the Letter Attributed to Barnabus. Both of these documents provide detailed descriptions of Christian behavior, in regards both to the practice of virtue and also to the avoidance of immoral conduct.


In regard to abortion, the Didache says, “Do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant.” The Letter Attributed to Barnabus says, “Do not kill an unborn child through abortion, nor destroy it after birth.”


In all of this, though, notice to whom the writers speak: to Christians.

So where have all the Christians gone?

The Politicizing of Christianity

In her early years, the Church lived in a hostile, anti-Christian environment. Although she tried to convert the pagans and heathens to Christianity, her primary appeal was to her own children.

But once the emperor Constantine made Christianity the formal religion of the Roman Empire, everything began to change.

Slowly, over time, Christians lost their inner mystical sense of alertness to the hostility of the world. After all, once the world was declared to be Christian, Christians could let their guard down—or so they thought. In so far as they could define society itself as Christian, they did not need to be concerned with maintaining a personal spiritual battle with society—or so they thought. Thus a profound sense of the mystical battle with evil ultimately gave way to a complacent conformity to superficially “Christian” laws and conventions. Essentially, this has been the identity of Western society for centuries.

But now, in the world today, we are experiencing the unraveling of this complacency. We are witnessing the slow disintegration of “Christian” society. We watch in horror as society shakes off the “burdensome yoke of Christian morality.” We weep as the green of the Irish countryside withers.

The Christian Task: To Become Christian

No one can stop the slow disintegration of “Christian” society by stepping in front of it. It’s a losing battle because the underlying spiritual battle against evil was lost by “Christian” society centuries ago through its own arrogance, complacency, and neglect.

So what can we do?

We need to convert ourselves back to Christianity.

We need to stop telling society how to live, and we need to start telling ourselves how Christians are supposed to live.

We need to start living genuine Christian lifestyles so that we can witness our faith to those who have lost all faith.

Our task is not one of producing persuasive propaganda; Christianity shows its greatness when it is hated by the world.

— Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Rediscovering Christian Identity

Imagine if today all Christians had the solid Christian identity witnessed by the Didache. Imagine if we could say things such as these:

Christians’ lives are ordered by chastity.

Christians respect the sanctity of Holy Matrimony, which is not a civil right but a sacrament given only to a properly disposed man and woman.

Christians do not divorce and remarry.

Christians do not kill an unborn child through abortion, nor destroy it after birth.

Christians dignify their bodies by dressing modestly.

Christians live prayerful, sober lives and do not smoke cigarettes, get intoxicated with alcohol, or use marijuana or other drugs.

Christians resist cultural brainwashing by not concerning themselves with glamor, lust, greed, competition, or popular entertainment.

Yes, imagine if today all Christians had a common Christian identity and refused to engage in the wickedness of the world around them. What if all Christians refused to be duped by the entertainment industries? What if all Christians refused to squander money on cable TV, sporting events, popular music concerts, movies, video games, casinos, cruises, resorts, cigarettes, marijuana, newspapers, and magazines? Think of the power that Christian money could have in influencing the world.

But now, sadly, Christian money has no more power than the filth it wallows in. That’s why we are in the mess we’re in today.

Therefore, as long as baptized women abort their own children, there will be no stopping abortion.


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