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Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB


Abbot Peter NovecoskyA positive message for life

The pro-life movement is often coloured by its critics as a negative movement, namely, as anti-abortion. This brings it into confrontation with what has become labelled a more positive “pro-choice” movement in western society. The politics of this needs to change, and it is good to publicize how it is changing.

One group, among others, that is changing the perception of the pro-life movement is Save the Storks. “One way we’re helping people approach the conversation of pro-life is by shifting the emphasis from being solely on saving the baby, and shifting the focus to understand why women feel they need to get abortions,” says Marcie Little, creative director of Save the Storks. “This helps people develop empathy that leads to compassion.”

According to Crux, the group is partnering with pregnancy resource centres across the U.S. to give abortion-vulnerable women options. The group’s vision is to create mobile ultrasound units and offer training and support services to pregnancy centres.

Save the Storks says it has funded roughly 40 bus projects (20 on the road and 20 in production), gained over 165,000 supporters, and saved over 1,000 babies.

The buses are equipped with ultrasound machines, surround sound systems and large TV displays. They are helping save lives outside abortion clinics and on college campuses.

“As part of our mission to equip pregnancy centres, we actively engage with the next generation by encouraging them to re-imagine the pro-life movement,” Little said. Their innovative spirits, thoughtfulness, and care for people afflicted by injustice is invaluable as our culture shifts toward embracing life.

Commenting on our culture’s perception of the pro-life movement, she said, “Unfortunately, the current view of the pro-life movement is often unfairly negative, and many young people don’t want to associate with it. In a way, we fill a void by helping people think differently about pro-life by inviting them to re-imagine what that term and the related actions actually mean.”

On another front, the transgender movement is heating up in a controversial fashion.

A regulation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requires that all hospitals and health care providers, including religious ones, perform or provide gender transition services, hormonal treatments and counselling as well as a host of surgeries that would remove or transform the sexual organs of men or women transitioning to the other gender. The HHS regulation requires group health plans to cover these procedures and services.

As noted on page 2 of this issue, the Catholic Benefits Association, the Diocese of Fargo and Catholic Charities North Dakota filed a lawsuit Dec. 28 against the regulation that redefines “sex” for anti-discrimination purposes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

In a related case, on Dec. 31 a federal judge in Texas blocked applying the regulation on a coalition of religious medical organizations who said the ruling was contrary to their religious beliefs.

While some will give a negative label to this resistance to adopting society’s current encouragement, even of children, to change gender identity, evidence shows that such a transition is not always a positive one.

On a related front, a group of priests, nuns and laypeople in India’s Kerela state have formed a group to respond to the pastoral needs of transgender people. Formed under the banner of Pro-Life Support, it offers outreach programs for the transgender community.

“The whole church has a big role to play,” said Rev. Paul Madassey, who is in charge of pro-life support for the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council. He noted Pope Francis has talked about the need to give “pastoral care to the LGBT community.”

“There is an active sex racket from North India eyeing transgender people in Kerala,” he explained. “They are trying to exploit the discriminatory situation they face,” Madassey told

India has an estimated 500,000 transgender people. They are often ostracized from their families and — without adequate state support in terms of employment, health and education — they end up on the street begging for money or are exploited in the sex trade.

In mid-December, sisters of the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel offered their buildings to form an exclusive school for dropouts among transgender people, considered the first of its kind in the country. The nuns offered their venue after at least 50 building owners declined to let out their buildings, indicating the discrimination prevalent in the society, Madassey told

A pro-life culture encompasses a large tent. It provides a positive response to people caught up in life’s tragedies. However, it’s a message and attitude that doesn’t always come through clearly — or want to be accepted by the larger society.