Whose Lives?
by Mario Gerada

Working on the gay and Christian issue has brought me in contact with a number of people either through meetings or through emails. Of course speaking about the gay issue and Christianity has involved me into numerous discussions with a number of people who have asked me all sorts of questions, even if I wear a bra!

Such discussions and meetings have transformed me in return and helped me see other perspectives and consider other points of view. Through these meetings I have come to realize that it seems that there are two main points which are common:

1) Most straight people need to talk about the gay issue too. People have questions, are confused about the matter, want to know more, wish to understand. Some are relatives of gay people themselves. Straight and gay people alike need a safe and rational space where intelligent discussion can take place; a discussion which is free from judgment or an overburdening legalistic and moralistic attitude.

2) People have a thirst for intelligent and rational Christian discourse free from fundamentalism or an unreasonable discourse about God’s Law. Pope Benedict teaches us that reason and faith can happily live together and how right he is. It seems to me that there is a deep longing in people’s heart for such a space; where we can safely talk about our faith with reason, in a reasonable manner.

Today I wish to discuss Christianity through the glasses of the issue of Abortion. Here in Malta like in several other countries with a strong Catholic or Christian tradition we have a group – the gift of life which advocates for the rights of the unborn. Of course this is a very noble cause and as a Catholic I too am against the legalization of abortion. However such groups do leave me a bit perplexed and also raise for me a number of questions which I would like to explore.

The first question that comes to my mind when hearing such discourse is ‘whose life are we talking about?’ Sometimes I wonder if we are talking only about a select group of humanity. Isn’t the gift of life also linked to the sustainability of life, the quality of life that each and every human person deserves? Isn’t the gift of life linked to the innate dignity of each and every human being? When I hear about abortion [which of course I understand that it is a serious and grievous sin] I think of the young gay man or woman contemplating suicide and living in a society where both Church and Government are not showing any serious commitment to offer services to help or protect that person - for his or her wellbeing. I think of the black man and woman detained for up to 18 months in detention centers whose conditions are deplorable, which at times lead some people there to desire never having survived. I think of garment workers working in other countries and whose lives are marked by exploitation, lack of rights and poverty and again no real commitment from our country to opt for fair trade - to stop and reflect before buying, about the conditions of workers behind the product.

I wonder if these too are forms of abortions - actions which might not directly kill an innocent voiceless fetus but actions which still lead to death, actions that violate the gift of life. I believe that the commitment to the gift of life from our groups & Church which advocate against abortion cannot be separate from other life and death issues. Of course one group cannot be active on all fronts. I understand that one needs to choose his or her own platform but the silence [on some issues] coming from Catholics which are very loud on other issues is often deafening and leaves one perplexed. It is very hard to interpret this silence, hence the question rises ‘whose life are we talking about here?’

The issue of Abortion seems to me to have also been used as a way of silencing people from discussing matters which are real and whose solution is very difficult. It seems we are living in an age where we fear dialogue and discussion. In such an atmosphere the only thriving solution seems to be fundamentalism, a real threat for today’s world, an approach which leads to fear, silencing and further death in various forms.

An issue which is very difficult and a lot of fear seems to revolve around discussing it is the systematic rape of women in Darfur and women in other armed conflict situations or abject poverty. I am not suggesting that abortion should be ‘The’ solution in such instances but a simplistic ‘no’ to people presenting such concerns is not going to lead us anywhere or give us much credibility as Catholics or Christians.

I myself do not have the answer. As a Catholic I do not believe that abortion is the solution but so far I do not have any real solutions, hence I cling to reason and faith. Having said that I feel the urge to point out at the desperate need to discuss intelligently with those with whom one does not share the same values. I believe that such discussions [with our perceived opponents] might lead to an open door, in finding a catholic response to such concerns.

I feel that as Catholics we need to address in a much stronger manner the deeper sinfulness at the heart of the matter, for instance the rape itself encouraged by government, the culture of male/ethnic dominance and superiority. Can Catholics exert pressure on such governments not to condone such crimes? Could this be an opening, an alternative to action on such matter rather than offering a simple and passive ‘no’ as an answer?

I chose to discuss Christianity through the glasses of the abortion issue in this article on purpose. I think abortion is one of the topics which is highly sensitive and brings about anxiety and fear. People like me who are Catholic and in principle of course against the legalization of abortion would fear that others label me in favour, since I would like to discuss the matter in a reasonable way and also to listen to those who do perceive abortion as a solution.

Those who are in favour are often not listened to, marginalized and ostracized to their own groups and networks. Thus we re-create a perfect two-sided, divided, antagonistic approach to the situation, where those who are in need of help slip through the two extremities, at the risk that both parties become more and more fundamentalist in their approach.

In this globalized world where internet has revolutionized democracy I tend to sympathize a lot with Pope Benedict calling us to reason and faith and to adopt such approach when discussing. I believe that this is an open door for us that will help us avoid further division, conflict and hurt. It is pain which us Catholics and Christians often inflict upon each other too, let alone on those who do not share our same faith and/or views.

© 2008 Mario Gerada

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