Progressive Catholic Priest James Martin Explains Why He is Pro-Life

martin sj

James Martin S.J.

This is a powerful piece from the Jesuit priest James Martin.   Here is a taste:

…The birth of my two nephews, who are now 20 and 13 years old, profoundly deepened my appreciation for the mystery of life. When I first saw my oldest nephew in the hospital a few hours after his birth, I was tremendously moved. After returning home, I wept for joy, completely overwhelmed by the gift and vulnerability of God’s new creation. Over the years I’ve watched them learn how to eat, sit up, talk, crawl, laugh, walk, read, run, ride bikes, make jokes, throw a ball, drive a car and take joy in the world.

Recently I had dinner with my oldest nephew and thought, “I can’t believe that he didn’t exist 20 years ago” and felt a surge of gratitude for God’s grace. (I knew enough not to tell him this, since he’d probably say, “Uncle Jim, give me a break!” Or more likely, “Uh huh.”)

The more I reflect on this the more my reverence for God’s creation grows. All of this naturally increases my reverence for the life of the child in the womb.

Now, as a man and a priest, and therefore someone who will never experience the joys and challenges of being a mother, someone who will never have to make a decision about an abortion and someone in a position of some power in the church, I recognize the limitations of my experience. And I recognize that many women consider it offensive to hear this from a man—because they have told me.

Many women whom I love, respect and admire support abortion rights and see these rights as a constitutive part of their authority over their own bodies. And who can doubt that over the centuries, women have been dominated and abused by men—even men responsible for providing them with legal, pastoral and medical care?

But acknowledging that women’s bodies are their own does not diminish my own reverence for the living body in a woman’s womb. Thus, I cannot deny that I see the child in the womb, from the moment of his or her conception, as a creation of God, deserving of our respect, protection and love. Mysterious, precious, unique, infinite, made in the image and likeness of God. Holy.

And my respect for life extends to life at every stage, a feeling that has only grown though my experiences in various ministries during my 30 years as a Jesuit—for example, with refugees.

Read the entire piece at America magazine.

2 thoughts on “Progressive Catholic Priest James Martin Explains Why He is Pro-Life

  1. I have more to add to this. Half of the women seeking abortions were using some form of birth control when they got pregnant. It’s worth noting that a woman using a bc method with what would be considered a very low failure rate of 1% annually has a roughly one in four chance of getting pregnant while using that method, over the full course of her reproductive years. For many of these women, having a child at that time is simply out of the question, for themselves, for their families, for their other children. “Just don’t have sex” isn’t an option, either. It’s an integral part of life.

    None of these facts, none of the realities of women’s actual lives, ever seems to appear in “pro-life” arguments. It’s *shocking*, how women are erased from the picture, except insomuch as so shame them for having sex and getting pregnant.


  2. I read the linked article, and note the absence of women’s voices, of anything that indicates that Martin confronts and understands the real anguish, if not abject terror, experienced by women facing unexpected and unwanted pregnancies. He walks up to the subject, gives it a n uncomfortable sideways glance, then quickly shifts his attention to the precious unborn babies. The distressed woman ceases to matter, if she ever did.

    Women exist. We will be heard. Listen to us.


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