“Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
“We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mt 25:35)? Saint Benedict did so readily, and though it might have ‘complicated’ the life of his monks, he ordered that all guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed ‘like Christ,’ with a gesture of veneration; the poor and pilgrims were to be met with ‘the greatest care and solicitude.'”
Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate, Paragraphs 101-102
Richard Stith is among the geniuses of the world, and I’m blessed to know him. In a letter to friends who share a consistent life approach, he wrote a preliminary response to Gaudete et Exsultate. It was of course – coming from him – thought-provoking. But I’d like to respond.
I’ve been a peace and pro-life activist for many years. Time magazine (and others including Joan Andrews Bell who should have known better) have called me the “father of the rescue movement.” I have written extensively about nonviolence (for), and eugenics (against). I’m currently working to strengthen bridges between the left and the right wings of the Church; birds fly better with two wings. Current work: seven part series on immigration in Scripture and Tradition. My publications include pamphlets and booklets that laid the foundation for pro-life nonviolence, especially “Peaceful Presence” (1978) and No Cheap Solutions (1984). I also wrote Emmanuel, Solidarity: God’s Act and Our Response (2000) and Roots of Racism and Abortion: An Exploration of Eugenics (2001). I wrote two books about immigration in 2012: Sign of the Crossing and Welcome! Date TBD. In ancient days, there were stories about me in NY Times Magazine, Time, and the New Yorker. NY Times reporter Jim Risen and Kansas City Star reporter Judie Thomas, in their book Wrath of Angels, devoted a chapter to me: “Father of Rescue: John O’Keefe.”