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August 2, 2021

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Priest’s arrest part of larger problem

As I write, a Franciscan priest I know is in a courtroom in Ohio. Father Fidelis Moscinski was charged with criminal trespass for walking into an abortion facility in Cuyahoga Falls.

It’s called a Red Rose Rescue: He goes inside, offers women roses, and when asked to leave, says he’s happy to — once the doctor performing abortions does. In other words, once the abortions stop. So the police wind up getting involved.

The pain of abortion can be a miserable cross to bear, not just for a woman but for all in her life. Death creates distance, especially when it’s a death that we pretend isn’t really death. We know better. We can see.

Former NFL player Benjamin Watson and his wife, Kirsten, are executive producers of a recent documentary called “Divided Hearts of America.” In it, they try to find out how we got to this place. The Watsons got more involved in pro-life advocacy after the experience of having their first child — and seeing that developing baby in ultrasounds.

It’s hard not to see a child as a gift, especially when the child is the fruit of love. That’s part of our problem: We don’t seem to know what love is anymore. I fear that so many have no idea what love really is — especially the young.

Love involves not mere pleasure, but reverence and sacrifice. Love draws you out of yourself to care for another.

When the #MeToo movement came around, what an opportunity it could have been — could still be — to appreciate the cruel extent of sexual abuse in our country. Human beings suffer, and if we were open and honest about that, we might have a shot at understanding one another.

That’s what the Watsons do in the documentary: Listen. Ask questions. And not antagonistic ones, like the one I recently got from a man in my neighborhood: “You want God to strike down all the LGBT people?” My goodness, no. I can’t speak for everyone who stands outside an abortion clinic praying or offering counsel, but all I want to do is offer hope for someone looking for a sign. Sometimes that’s all the person wants. Sometimes she feels like the abortion is expected; sometimes she just needs someone to listen.

We need to love one another better. Our politics will never get better until we do. We look for political solutions for problems of the human heart, and that’s just never going to work. That’s why we’re so divided. That’s why there is such anger and violence. We don’t value life and love like we ought. We don’t see precious human life in one another, and we certainly can’t bring ourselves to love those who disagree with us.

These outbursts we see, which become tyrannical ideologies clung to with religious fervor, are really cries for help from a country that can do better. And it starts in recognizing our universal humanity — yes, even the unborn, and the scared mother who deserves better than walking into an abortion clinic, or receiving pills by mail to end her pregnancy. We’re never going to have any kind of healing in our land until we talk with one another differently about abortion.

When Father Fidelis walks into a clinic with roses, he’s trying to help us see.

Contact Kathryn Jean Lopez at



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