Last week I had the opportunity to attend an excellent conference that was held for leaders of various ministries, apostolates and pro-life organizations. Though the conference and the views of the individual speakers and attendees were not public, a general consensus that emerged from the three day event is worth sharing, and it should serve as a wakeup call to all of us in pro-life and pro-family work: the culture wars are over.
This troubling ‘consensus’ needs qualification. We have lost the culture wars primarily in the courts and in the political realm; the courts fell to the cultural zeitgeist decades ago, and one political party has been propelling it along at warp speed, while another has quietly acquiesced and decided that economic conservatism is far more important than social conservatism.
Further qualification: our youth are becoming more pro-life on the issue of abortion with each passing day. Studies are proving this hopeful sign of renewal, as is the wonderful and growing attendance at the March For Life every year. As the pro-choice crowd grays and thins by attrition, the pro-life movement is expanding and vibrant.
But even among this youthful and vibrant pro-life generation, there is cause for concern. As they wake up to and reject the barbarity of abortion on demand through nine months of pregnancy, they have been lulled into complacency by extremely effective cultural and academic propaganda on the other issues of the culture wars, including assisted suicide, euthanasia and the attack on traditional marriage and the family. Our opposition uses emotion laden, finely tuned and persuasive tactics to advance their cause. The cultural acceptance of stealth euthanasia, Brittany Maynard’s death by assisted suicide and the gay marriage agenda is proof of their insidious effect.
Another consensus that emerged from the conference was that, while fighting the culture wars at the level of court cases and the political field may not yield the best return on our efforts and meager finances, the new evangelization is more urgent than ever. The “new” evangelization is about re-evangelizing the de-Christianized West. Of necessity it must begin in our homes, among our families and friends, and in our churches and civic groups. We must defend and spread the “Gospel of Life” as the antidote to the ever growing culture of death.
Re-evangelizing a de-Christianized culture is orders of magnitude more difficult than the initial spread of Christianity in a mission field. A pagan culture that has never been evangelized is (at risk of offending politically correct post-Christian sensibilities) a demonic culture, and the initial work of the missionary is to cast out the demons and build a Christian foundation so that the Gospel may flourish and souls be saved. A once-Christian culture that has rejected Christianity has been compared to Jesus’ parable of the return of an unclean spirit:
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”
Who can question that a spirit not seen since pre-Christian times has infested the West in the last century, and rages with demonic fury against Christianity, marriage, family and the Gospel of Life?
We have hard work ahead of us, work that must be accompanied by prayer, fasting and sacrifice.
And we desperately need effective tools in this work. Reform of the culture will take place mainly through moral education. The truth has not gotten lost, we just have to open our eyes to see it again by shining light on it. The question is HOW do we open eyes?
American Life League has stepped up to the plate with their Culture of Life Studies Program:
” an educational initiative focused on preparing school-aged children and teens to be the next generation of pro-life activists. Unlike other pro-life education programs, the Culture of Life Studies Program is designed specifically for use within the normal school curriculum and teaches young people how to recognize and respond to threats to life.”
Catherine Daub has written an article for our newsletter describing ALL’s new program: “Building a Culture of Life, One Student at a Time: ALL’s Culture of Life Studies Program’s New Approach to Pro-Life Education.” (Link will open a PDF). It’s worth reading. You may also want to see ALL’s Introduction to Euthanasia supplement, which will be made available through the American Life League Culture of Life Studies Program website, cultureoflifestudies.com, in the fall of 2015. If you’re interested, you can follow this program’s development on the Culture of Life Studies Program Facebook page at facebook.com/ALLCLSP.
Editor’s note: a version of this post appeared in the “From the Chairman” column of the April 15th edition of the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance newsletter. It has been reprinted by the author.
Brian J. Kopp, DPM is a Podiatrist in private practice in Johnstown PA and serves as Chairman of the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance, a program of Human Life Alliance, of which he is also a board member. Dr. Kopp serves as Faith Community Liaison for Catholic Hospice of Greensburg, PA. He has written articles on a range of subjects, primarily the culture of life, medicine and ethics, that have been published in periodicals including the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, New Oxford Review, The Wanderer National Catholic Weekly, and websites including World Net Daily. He is a Board Member of The Polycarp Research Institute. Dr. Kopp has been a guest on several episodes of EWTN Catholic Radio’s The Good Fight program, as well as Radio Maria’s Armed for Battle program, addressing issues including end of life care and euthanasia, the Affordable Care Act and the HHS mandate.
I don’t see how activism can help in any meaningful way. Evangelization, yes. Prayer, fasting, and sacrifice (which you also mentioned, of course), yes. Martyrdom, yes. But I don’t see how activism, at least in the context of 21st-century politics are concerned, will have any meaningful effect.
I don’t see this as a generic Christian battle, but a Catholic one. We’ll be the only ones left fighting this fight before too long, and most Catholics don’t even believe in the principle of identity, let alone what the Church teaches with regards to life and morality.
I think we believing Catholics are going to have to cluster ourselves in good proximity with each other and form strong communities just to prevent our children from being taken by the world on issues like you mentioned. I think we’re going to have to look into self-sustenance farming, because that’s the only way we’ll be able to feed our families, as working in corporate America will require that we sign declarations that we deny the teachings of Christ’s holy church.
I’ve been praying of late for the courage to accept martyrdom, if that’s my fate. I think we all ought to do the same. The enemy won’t accept our silence as consent; they will demand absolute denial of Christ, or death.
No, I respectfully disagree. Running away to the boondocks and/or circling the wagons around a cocoon of like-mined people will not work. We are called to be missionaries in action as then words. But, action first, like St. Francis. And, yes, as you state, if martyrdom is our destiny than so be it. But, we cannot turn our backs on our communities without a fight. Witness is the answer, not in proselytization, but in prayer and personal example. This is the cross.
First, I never suggested cutting off all ties with the world. I suggested grouping together so we can help each other, reinforce each others’ faith, and live in a community that resembles what normal parish life was 100 years ago. Going to a rural area doesn’t mean cutting oneself off from the world. Is it wrong to be a Catholic in a rural area because you encounter fewer people than in the city? Clearly not. I grew up in a very rural area, and tire of suburban and urban life.
Second, saying we should all approach evangelization in a Franciscan manner is really close-minded. Though there’s nothing wrong with Franciscan spirtuality, I identify more with Benedictine spirituality. There are different orders, and different ways of life, for a reason.
My real point is that we won’t survive this, either as individuals or as a culture, alone. We need each other. I feel so worn down by the world. I honestly fear that one day I’ll succumb to the world and lose my own faith. That terrifies me! And that is the focus of my prayer — that I might remain faithful until a righteous end, wherever and wherever I may be.
Buck up. “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Matt 24:6
The terrors will pass. Only the true light of Christ will dispell the darkness. One day enough people will join the spiritual battle to turn the tide back. We’ll probably be long gone by then. Like the Israelites of old, we can only win by letting God fight for us.
“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” Isa 30:15
I’m terrified, too. Especially for my children and grandchildren. Well said, Aaron. Yet, at the very beginning of his pontificate, St. John Paul the Great said “be not afraid.” And, this is the moment when men can finally play their part in salvation history. We are knights, after all. It is our job to confront the dragon with our personal witness, with sword unsheathed and lance and shield at the ready. And, yes, we will be toppled from our steed again and again. So it must be. But, one day, the world will come to its senses. Our witness and faith today will lay the groundwork for that awesome day. I’m in my late fifties. The day of redemption and atonement may not come in my lifetime. But, I firmly believe it will come in yours. “Stay the course.” My prayers tonight go out to you and your family. I feel and fear those of my generation have failed you. Please forgive us.
Imagine if the Allies had tried to use the Nazi court system to stop the Nazis from mass murder and were still trying sixty years later and talking about “victories” because “only 999,000” instead of a million were murdered last year.