Occasion to educate

After learning of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court, the words of Jesuit Father John Hardon came to mind: “Educate, educate, educate.” Father Hardon, named a Servant of God by the Church, was a noted theologian, writer and catechist. He spent his final years in my home archdiocese, the Archdiocese of Detroit. Although I never had the blessing of meeting him, I have heard countless stories of how he encouraged and advised lay Catholics on how to help pass on the truth and beauty of the Church: education.

Maybe you don’t see yourself as much of an educator when it comes to the Faith. But we’re all called to evangelize wherever God puts us and in whatever ways we can. Given the fact that the endless discussions, debates and arguments surrounding Kennedy’s replacement are zooming in on the abortion issue — more specifically, the infamous Roe v. Wade decision — what better time to educate on the fallout of abortion?

You don’t have to be a legal or religious scholar to start getting people to think and debate about what 45 years of abortion on demand has done to our country. Even the fact that abortion is legal through nine months of pregnancy is a fact of which many Catholics are unaware. Before the 2016 presidential election, my husband had a discussion with a fellow Catholic sidewalk counselor who had been praying the Rosary with him and other pro-lifers in front of abortion centers for years. He happened to mention a few details about Roe v. Wade, and she asked him, “What do you mean?” She assumed abortion was only legal through the first trimester.

The surveys show even those who like to call themselves “pro-choice” don’t agree with late-term abortions. You never know the type of impact speaking the truth, even one small piece of it, can do to educate someone and help lead them to a change of heart on this issue.

In my work as a Catholic talk show host and in covering the March for Life in Washington each January, I have interviewed hundreds of men and women whose lives have been tragically altered by abortion. While all those I’ve met have been blessed to go through post-abortion healing and know they are forgiven, they still have regret. But sharing their journeys has helped them continue to move forward while hopefully making a difference in helping an abortion-minded woman to think twice. Perhaps it’s time for you to share your story with someone.

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Given the number of abortions — over 60 million — even if you don’t personally know someone who has had an abortion, there is likely someone sitting next to you at your parish that has been touched by one. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 women has had an abortion. Think of how encouraging it would be for your priest to preach on God’s forgiveness and post-abortion healing ministries in helping those who are silently hurting at Mass. Think about how others may learn something about what life would be like without abortion on demand. Perhaps you could be the one to write an article in your church bulletin sharing the testimony of women and men from Silent No More Awareness. Maybe you could share information on your Facebook page about how even one abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer, as well as addiction and depression.

With the retirement of Kennedy and this month’s 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, God is handing us one opportunity after another to educate. Let’s make Father Hardon proud and do what we can to speak the truth in love.

Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ave Maria Radio, and the author of “Beyond Sunday: Becoming a 24/7 Catholic” (OSV, $14.95).