Another little skirmish in the culture war
HLI encounters more protest as successful Calgary conference concludes.
About 150 pro-abortion, gay and feminist demonstrators sang “This womb is my womb,” chanted “Keep you rosaries off my ovaries,” and checked their watches, counting off the hour. Calgary was enduring unseasonably cold weather. “It makes our job easier,” says a cop, peering from the Calgary hotel.
Meanwhile, on the hotel’s second floor, also watching the demonstrators —and praying his rosary —was the object of that frozen anger: white-haired, five-foot-tall Benedictine Fr. Paul Marx. Proudly bearing International Planned Parenthood’s label, “Public Enemy No 1,” Fr. Marx and HLI Canada wee in Calgary, November 10-12, for a conference.
“There’s the culture o death,” says Fr. Marx, in his soft Minnesota accent. “They’re showing the wrold what it looks like.”
At HLI’s Montreal conference last April, its candlelight procession was jeered by over 2000 gays and feminists, spitting, hurling vegetables and worse. Yet the 6000-strong Canadian branch also saw its first real crack in a decade-long media boycott. On the evening news, its members appeared normal. “We’d never heard of HLI before Montreal,” says Bob Farwell of Red Deer, at the Calgary conference. “We’ve heard of it now.”
HLI also patched together a 10-minute video of the Montreal riot as “the culture of death.” It first aired at the Third International Congress of Pro-Life Movements in Rome in October.
So, as the Calgary conference drew close, the organization was clearly of two minds: on the one hand, anxious for a little suffering “for My Name’s sake;” on the other hand, nervous about exposing their local friends to persecution on their home turf.
Stirrings against the November conference began at the University of Calgary in September. In October, the Calgary Birth Control Centre began hosting the “Coalition Against Hatred:” Planned Parenthood, the Unitarians, the Canadian Jewish Congress, organized labour, feminists and homosexuals. Their first plan was to call a wildcat strike of the Delta Bow Valley’s employees —stymied by the fact that the hotel isn’t unionized.
“The same people at Montreal,” sighs HLI Canada director Theresa Bell, “and Planned Parenthood at the centre.” In response, HLI gathered is own coalition. Its Calgary news conference had a dozen organizations on the podium, including the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Women’s League, the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families, the evangelical Churches Concerned for Life, the ecumenical Churches Uniting for Life, and the charismatic-evangelical Jubilee Christian Centre.
“Why does the church remain silent while this holocaust is carried out every day in our nation/” Jubilee pastor Phil Nordin asked the yarning reporters. “In our land today a pine tree enjoys more protection than an unborn child.”
The local Catholic hierarchy remained silent. In September, Calgary bishop Paul O’Byrne warned his flock that HLI might hamper the “orderly development of their faith and moral life”—which life was “in the hands of several committees.”
In October, Edmonton archbishop Joseph MacNeil learned that Fr. Marx was slated to speak at an Edmonton parish after the conference; so he wrote HLI that the monk “will not need to make this trip.” Just before the conference opened, Calgary’s vicar general Fr. Pat Cramer announced that the diocese and HLI weere united in the pro-life cause; but still no local priests attended. Fr. Marx later spoke at evangelical churches in Calgary and Edmonton.
Yet, as the conference opened, only Immigration Canada proved bothersome. When biologist Larry Roberge and activist Joe Scheidler flew in frm Chicago, they were whisked into a back room. “They grilled me from 11:00 ‘till 12:40 in the morning,” says Mr. Scheidler; the previous day, he’d cleared himself with the Canadian consulate in Detroit. “They kept asking me why I didn’t gert honest work, so I kept telling them what abortion does. The woman at the desk didn’t look too happy about that.”
Then the conference got down to work. A past-professor of sociology, Fr. Marx spoke first on “Sex and Abortion: the Global Disaster.” The ‘culture of death” has sterilized and aborted the West to the point where it can’t replace its own people. Baseline population replacement rate is 2.1 children per couple; yet Canada’s fertility runs just 1.6 and the European countries;, 1.1 – 1.3. This “demographic winter” is the suicide of the West.
“Bouchard was right,” the monk quips, observing Quebec’s 1.4 fertility rate. “If the French had more kids, they’d have won the referendum. People forget that culture walks on two feet.”
Massachusetts biologist Larry Roberge spoke about the almost-completed development of an “abortion vaccine,” the “Holy Grail” of the world population controllers. He contrasted this with recent technical developments in natural family planning.
Abbortsford palliative-care specialist Dr. Robert Pankratz, president of Physicians for Life Canada, spoke on the euthanasia movement —the result of Canada’s artificially low fertility.
Los Angeles Chine-specialist Stephen Mosher, author of A Mother’s Orders, spoke on China’s coercive “one child family” policy, in graphic and gory detail. Mr. Mosher has just been made the director or HLI’s Population Research Institute.
Brandon Internal-Medicine Specialist Barbara Mackalski discussed the latest rages in sexually-transmitted diseases; the latest viruses are literally incurable and deadly, so monogamy remains the only prevention. Slave Lake teacher Irene Simons spoke on Christian education, and a panel of the Alberta Federation of Women United for Families described the fun at the UN’s Beijing Women’s Conference.
HLI’s keynote speaker was Chicago activist Joe Scheidler, producer of the video, Meet the Abortion Providers. Over the years, Mr. Scheidler has “turned” over a dozen abortionists (from practicing), and from the, he’s learned some things.
“One, it’s all about money,” he says. “They call themselves killers, and inside the mills, they make fun of the women.”
But he’s also learned, “two, pro-life methods work, by cutting into their business.”
And three, miracles are possible, “At an annual ‘Meet the Providers’ conference, someone wanted a picture, so I put my arms around four ex-abortionists,” he recounts. “Suddenly I realized, between the,, these women had killed 100,000 babies. Yet they’d been brought back. That’s when I knew, nobody is beyond God’s grace.”