From behind me I hear the speaker getting started: “I just wanted to let everyone know that the abortion clinic we were praying for in Lawrence has finally closed down.” Everyone claps and cheers. My heart sinks. I sip my coffee.
Of course — a room full of Catholic women, most of them mothers, many of them pregnant: they were bound to be mostly anti-abortion. I tell myself that this is not the thing that should color my opinion of these women, that they are more than a viewpoint I disagree with, and simply hope that I’m not asked to pray for the closing of an abortion clinic during my visit.
I was right; the women were kind and interesting, and I felt like I learned a lot in the two hours we spent together talking about our faith. But once more before I left an older woman stood up to let everyone know that they were getting together at another woman’s house before heading out to the abortion clinic in town this weekend.
It got me thinking about my faith, about my not-yet-two-year-old son.
This is not the kind of Catholic I want to raise him to be, the kind of person who removes options and choices from other people, be it through the force of their thoughts or the force of their actions.
When we had him baptised I was elated. I was excited to offer him the kind of childhood I had. One where we learned to love and respect God, the Earth, and all living things. One where we played Super Mario Brothers and read books and watched MTV and traveled. Being Catholic was just one part of us as a family, a constant that guided our thoughts and our actions.
We were never taught to hate — God willing, as children and as humans we needed no help understanding malice — or to look down on anyone who was different or choose differently. It wasn’t until I was a nearly a pre-teen that I even had a notion that there were people who thought God hated anyone, especially those people who weren’t like them.
I want that for my son. I want him to love things, I want him to see the wonder of this world through science and through nature, to view people without labelling and judging them. I want him to feel safe in his faith — or his non-faith, if that’s what he chooses — and I want him to know that he has no rights over a person’s thoughts, actions, or choices.
As a mother (and a terrible Catholic, to be honest), I hope I’m up to the challenge.