I think this plea from Dr. Jeff Mirus for Catholics to stop spending resources to advance the cause of life in the political arena is off base.
It is no longer satisfactory—in fact I would say it is disingenuous—to stress (for example, in response to the Obama juggernaut) that we simply need to go back to the trenches and mobilize more people and more resources in the same political effort next time around. Twenty-five years ago this seemed to make sense. Ten years ago people were reluctant to suggest that it did not. Today, anybody who thinks this is a reasonable response to the problems we face either has his head in the sand or possesses a vested interest in the economic viability of one or more of the many pro-life organizations which—almost certainly through no great fault of their own—simply cannot succeed.
Remember the humorous definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If we are to make any progress at all, we must face the reality that the state of our culture makes effective political solutions impossible, except in a few tiny and inevitably temporary ways.
The pro-life movement, like the Church, has always been multi-faceted: legislative, educational and pastoral, because people have different gifts, and it has never served us well for those who are active in one field of pro-life work to claim that funding another field is a waste of money. I would further argue that sitting back and doing nothing politically while people are running rough-shod over human rights only contributes to the Culture of Death. Politics affects the culture, and culture affects politics. If there are no strong voices in politics stating the truth, the culture will respond by rejecting the truth even more.
There is much to be said for learning to have the patience necessary to live in a culture that seems to have fundamentally rejected the basic truths of human dignity. Abandoning the fight, however, is the ultimate act of impatience. We must patiently continue on in every area where our gifts can make a positive difference. God doesn’t require that we succeed. He does require that we try.
Just as it would be prideful for us to claim that our political successes are due to our own hard work, and not to God’s grace working through us, it would be prideful to say that political failures are testimony that we are waging a fruitless battle. God wants us to do whatever we are able to do to advance the cause of authentic human dignity, not that we might win political victories, but that His glory may be made manifest in every place. We have to speak the truth everywhere, not just where we are popular.