This Franciscan friar is ready to go to jail for preaching against abortion

San Francisco would probably have made most of us uncomfortable. Perhaps he is the best known and most familiar saint. His love for God and His creation eventually made him a secular patron of pets. But his radical love for God and his insistence on poverty brought about a renewal in a way that comfort could not.

Fidelis Moscinski, a Franciscan friar in the tradition of St. Francisco, makes people uncomfortable. When I’m around him, he usually offers deliverance prayers outside an abortion clinic. On the streets of New York, it makes people not just uncomfortable, but livid. (You don’t want me to repeat some of the things I heard him say.) When he’s out there, we can’t pretend the abortion clinic is just another office building. It is a place where lives end. Lives in development, but lives in the same way. Follow the science.

When I’m not around him, he walks into the lobbies of abortion clinics, offering roses to women. He is asked to leave and says he will when the abortionist leaves. So he is arrested. It is an act of civil disobedience in response to an unjust law.

A few days after Independence Day this summer [inverno no hemisfério Sul], he showed up with padlocks and chains at an abortion clinic on Long Island early in the morning. He blocked access to the clinic for a few hours. He’s open about why — he wanted to delay women’s entry so he could try to help them not have abortions. Now the Justice Department is suing him.

When I first heard in July that he had chained himself up, I questioned the tactic’s effectiveness for a mutual friend — thinking mostly about the long-term effort to change hearts and minds, wanting some kind of perfect strategy that never was and never will be. “The women turned around,” he replied. For Friar Fidelis, any opportunity to give someone a chance to take a break from abortion is worth the sacrifice — what many would consider foolish — because human lives are at stake. It’s a radical last line of defense. It’s the signal someone needed. Questions are asked. People notice. It’s not a routine abortion day.

Nicole Moore advises women considering abortion in New York City at Pregnancy Help Inc., one of those modest help centers to the pregnancy that the governor [democrata] of New York and the senator [democrata] of Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren want to end. Moore notes that even in the abortion capital/destiny of New York, something has changed in the 100 days or so since Roe was taken down. “Women’s hearts are open,” she says.

I’ve heard this from others on the front lines of pregnancy help. Now that Roe v. Wade is no longer law, some of the pressure is raised — there’s a newfound freedom now that there’s a renewed debate on abortion rather than a court-imposed necessary evil. In comments at the Human Life Review [publicação pró-vida americana] dinner, a few days after the federal lawsuit against Fr Fidelis, Moore said that lives are being saved when someone is there to give hope for help. She doesn’t sugarcoat how difficult the path is, but the more help there is, in the spirit of the radical nature of the gospel, the better it is for women.

Jessica Keating Floyd wrote recently about being in the master of divinity program at the University of Notre Dame and finding pro-life people who talk about abortion more than other issues irritating. After communicating this during a study on Christian radicalism, she was challenged by someone she respected, known for “his commitment to social justice.” He told her, “If you believe these are human beings, you might feel different.” Now she works to engage those in the same boat as her in the urgency of protecting the unborn. (All the best politics in the world won’t do anything for you if you don’t get a chance to live. We can “love them both”, as was last year’s March for Life theme.)

Moore shared that a lot of the noise since Roe broke up seems far removed from the needs of women who come to her, who don’t know how they’re going to support themselves for the next week, let alone a pregnancy and having only 18 years.

During the same week, Kamala Harris met with the president of Planned Parenthood and insisted that people of faith who oppose abortion should have no moral qualms about supporting the expansion of abortion they insist on. Not if it’s a life, Madam Vice President.

I’m not canonizing Friar Fidelis, but I’m much less interested in the political and legal debate over the federal charges against him than in the discomfort he can leave us in helping women more radically not to have to choose abortion.

As long as there are politicians trying to explain science when comes to abortion, there will be religious leaders making us uncomfortable – and going to jail – because they have the courage of their convictions in the face of serious moral confusion.

©18 National Review. Published with permission. Original in English.

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