Jim Harbaugh, the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, describes the joy he feels when he joins fellow parishioners from his Menlo Park, California parish on their trips to Peru. They visit to aid a growing ministry to the poor provided by The Most Blessed Sacrament Parish in the small town of Piura. “’The doors that God will open for you by the people you meet or by the circumstances you’re in (allow) your character to be shaped and your spirit to grow,’ he said. ‘Those kinds of doors are opened for (me) here.’”
During the week of the March for Life, Charles Camosy points to statistics showing that more women are opposed to abortion rights today than men, and these women are leading the charge to provide equal rights under the law to the unborn. He argues that “pro-life feminists have been fighting for women by presenting evidence that–contrary to conventional wisdom–broad abortion rights serve the financial and sexual interests of men. And, tragically, hurt the flourishing of women.”
Daniel P. Horan reflects on the Gospel story of Jesus healing a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath – considered a form of work on the Holy Day, which was proscribed by Jewish law, and considers what this example of holy rule-breaking means for people of faith today. He warns that we shouldn’t take this as a sort of free-for-all allowance to ignore man-made rules and interpretations of God’s law, but rather as an opportunity to examine our priorities. As he notes, “Marginalization, discrimination, violence, hatred, and so forth, even dressed up in the sheep’s clothing of legal righteousness and religious zeal, are nevertheless indications that the priorities of God are being supplanted by the personal or collective interests of human beings.”
There is a growing divergence in the way Millennials approach the issues of abortion and homosexuality. They are simultaneously becoming more pro-life and accepting of same-sex marriage, and they are helping to shift the national dialogue on both issues. As Daniel notes, “Both gay rights and pro-life advocates have adopted the language of civil rights. And both have convinced many Americans that their causes aim to extend natural rights to more people, a goal that speaks to young Americans’ sense of social justice.”
200,000 youths showed up in the Burmese capital to protest child slavery; child marriage-free zones are cropping up in Bangladesh; and demonstrations against violence towards women have been taking place in Nepal. More and more, women and girls are responding to the lethargic response of the global community by taking the struggle for justice into their own hands and mobilizing for their rights, as well as demanding access to education. As Gordon Brown says, “The new self-conscious assertion by girls of their collective rights is the shape of the year to come. Given that so many female rights in so many countries have been promised and yet have still to be established — the right to a childhood free of marriage, the right to go to school, the right to be protected against violence — then the Bangladeshi movement is one that is likely to spread to the rest of the continent.”
Elise Italiano argues that a focus on maintaining abortion rights is not the feminist solution that will allow women to flourish. Arguments that abortion allows women to complete their education, achieve professional success, escape from poverty, and move on from the trauma of rape and sexual violence distract from and undercut real solutions to problems that women face in our culture today. “A society that is poised to overturn Roe must put in place the structures and support for pregnant women so that the ‘choice’ between life and abortion is no longer difficult because life is the natural choice.”
Kristen Day seeks to point out that the Roe v. Wade decision made 40 years ago did not have quite the impact that both abortion-rights activists and opponents claim it has – it neither legalized abortion (just moved it to a federal level instead of state-by-state) nor did it catapult women to equal-rights status. It has given both sides political talking points that often distract from progress being made for women’s rights, or, as Kristen puts it, “In this polarized environment, we have lost sight of the women in the cross-fire who are facing crisis pregnancies or wondering whether to bring a special-needs child into the world. Compassion has given way to one-upmanship. As a result, the women and their children whom both sides claim as their motivation are neglected by both sides.” She then goes on to laud the Pregnancy Assistance Fund, created under the Affordable Care Act, which has not received nearly the attention it deserves.
Just for fun, I had to include a great new ad out for Microsoft Internet Explorer which is making at least a few of us Millennials more than a little nostalgic for times past. Please note, this is not an endorsement of IE or Microsoft, but it is definitely an endorsement of Hungy Hungry Hippos, pogs, and chili bowl haircuts.