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OPINION

Uncomfortable Questions and Hard Answers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Paul Beaty

St. Francis would probably have made most of us uncomfortable. He's perhaps both the most well-known and most domesticated saint. His love for God and God's creation has made him a secular patron for pets. But his radical love of God and insistence on poverty sparked renewal in a way that should unsettle our lives.

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Father Fidelis Moscinski, a Franciscan friar, also makes people uncomfortable. He can often be seen praying outside of abortion clinics. In New York City, that not only makes people uncomfortable, but livid, as I've personally witnessed.

A few days after Independence Day this past summer, he showed up at an abortion clinic on Long Island early in the morning, carrying locks and chains. He obstructed access to the clinic for a few hours. He said he wanted to delay women going in so he could try to persuade them not to have abortions. So now the Justice Department is making a federal case of him.

When I first heard back in July that he had done this lock-and-chain work, I questioned the efficacy of the tactic to a mutual friend, in terms of messaging and long-term strategy.

"Women turned around," my friend replied. For Father Fidelis, any opportunity to give anyone a chance to reconsider abortion is worth it. It's a radical last line of defense.

Nicole Moore counsels abortion-minded women in New York City at Pregnancy Help Inc., one of the modest pregnancy-help centers that the governor of New York and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren want to shut down. Moore observes that even in the abortion capital/destination of New York, something has changed in the 100 days or so since Roe was overturned.

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Women's "hearts are open." I've heard this from others on the frontlines of pregnancy help: Now that Roe v. Wade isn't the law of the land, some of the pressure is lifted -- alternatives that wouldn't have been considered before are now in play.

Jessica Keating Floyd recently wrote about being in the Master of Divinity program at Notre Dame, and finding pro-life people who talk about abortion more than other issues annoying. After saying this during a study of Christian radicalism, she was challenged by someone she respected, known for "his commitment to social justice." He said to her: "If you believe these are human beings, you might feel differently." Now she works to convince others of the urgency of protecting the unborn.

Moore has spoken about how so much of the noise since Roe ended seems so remote from the needs of the women who come to her, who aren't certain how to make it through the week, never mind a pregnancy and the next 18+ years.

I'm much less interested in the political and legal debate over the federal charges against Father Fidelis as I am in how uncomfortable he can make us in terms of causing us to question our commitments, ideals and actions. How much do we really value human life, and what lengths are we really willing to go to in order to defend and protect it? These are important questions for people on both sides of the abortion divide.

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As long as there are politicians trying to cloak abortion in euphemisms, rhetoric and hyperbole, there will be religious leaders making us uncomfortable -- and going to jail -- because they have the courage of their convictions in the face of a grave moral muddle.

(Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review magazine and author of the new book "A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living." She is also chair of Cardinal Dolan's pro-life commission in New York. She can be contacted at klopez@nationalreview.com.)

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