Breaking out of My Pro-Life Bubble

By Mary McClusky

May 23, 2014

My husband and I had just celebrated the two-year anniversary of buying our first home, and we were still getting the previous owners’ mail. As I read the Planned Parenthood fundraising letter complaining that decreased access to abortion is an “undue burden” on women, I mumbled, “What about the burden of death on those babies and their poor mothers?” It felt satisfying to rip up the plea for money and throw it in the trash.
But after reading Pope Francis’s recent address to dozens of powerful United Nations officials, I realized I need to spend more time sharing and proclaiming the truth about the right to life with those who disagree, rather than grumbling to myself. Speaking to dozens of powerful U.N. officials, many of whom promote abortion as the solution to world-wide poverty, Pope Francis boldly reminded them that every one of the lives of our brothers and sisters “is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death.” He challenged the executives to work toward their world-wide development goals while resisting the “‘economy of exclusion’, the ‘throwaway culture’ and the ‘culture of death’ which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.” Pope Francis also challenged the U.N. officials to freely share “the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others.”

As often happens, no matter whom he is addressing, I felt that Pope Francis was speaking directly to my heart. I realized that I was becoming complacent, partly because my full-time pro-life desk job does not involve direct interaction with those who accept abortion. It was easy to rip up misdirected mail -- but how often did I respond directly and boldly in charity to those who attack human life? Was I sacrificing enough of my free time and energy to give others their just due, as Pope Francis said, and “generously and lavishly” share the truth about God’s beautiful gift of life with those around me?

In everyday situations, fear often prevents me from expressing the truths of my Catholic faith. It is time to live outside my comfort zone and my Catholic “bubble,” both on and off the clock.

It’s tempting for each of us to think, “I’m just one person” and that speaking up more often won’t really change anything. But what if the challenging, yet still loving, comments I now plan to write on the next misdirected fundraising letter and return in the mail plant a seed in a Planned Parenthood mailroom staffer’s mind?

Complacency, silence and inaction should never be options. Not when we live in a country where the “intentional death experience,” as Dr. Vince Rue calls it, of a defenseless child in the womb is legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason. Not when children are destroyed and the hearts of their mothers, fathers, grandparents, and other family members are broken and wounded.

So I vow to remember and repeat the positive experience of an airplane flight I took many years ago.  I had overcome my fear of confrontation and resisted the temptation to tell my seatmate only that I work for an “educational non-profit.” I was pleasantly surprised when he told me he appreciated and admired my pro-life work. And I vow to remember Pope Francis’ courage at the U.N. May his example inspire us with courage to put everything, including our pro-life views, as Pope Francis says, “at the service of others.”

Mary McClusky is an Assistant Director at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. To learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities, go to

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