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Mrs. Fanny B. and her children, giving pro-lifers a lesson in courage
What happened during the 2007 Quebec City Life Chain? This is Tuesday, two days after the event, and my head is still spinning a bit. I'll try to describe my subjective impressions, but remember I was standing still and praying in silence for the whole hour, so I can't claim I saw and heard everything, or that my emotions are not disrupting my judgment (I'm Stefan Jetchick, Secretary of the Life Week Committee).
Copyright notice: All the pictures in this report were taken off the flickr account of Nefac-Quebec, Organizers of the Pro-choice Counter-Demonstration ("Nefac" stands for Northeastern Federation Of Anarcho-Communists). All pictures were marked with "This picture is Public", so I figured I could use them. Thank you very much, Ladies and Sirs of Nefac-Quebec, for the nice pictures! I had my camera to take a picture of our Life Chain after our hour of prayer was over, but didn't realize that I would miss all the most important picture opportunities during the Life Chain! Duh! Remember, I have a fancy university degree, so you can't expect too much of me!
Louis Casgrain and I arrived at about 13h45 with the signs. Pastor Bernard, official spokesperson for the Life Week Committee, was already surrounded by journalists (I saw a huge CBC television car, one van for TQS, and later on we saw TVA; so basically all major TV networks were there.) The pro-life side was empty, and the pro-choice side was already occupied with a large group (they themselves estimate about 80 at high tide, which looked about right to me; we might have been about 25, and then only long after the hour had started).
Initial pro-choice group
A Sûreté du Québec Sergeant stopped Louis and I, told us only one police cruiser had arrived, and asked us to avoid setting ourselves up in front of the pro-choice group, "to avoid provoking them". We had reserved that spot officially and a long time ago, with faxes to Cpt Guy Pépin of the Quebec City Police, but I guess that doesn't count. He also said that there were anarchists in that group, so they didn't want to have any police nearby, because the anarchists tend to be violent toward the police. So the whole event unfolded with only one police cruiser very far away.
We started setting up our signs, away from the pro-choicers. But they immediately crossed Boulevard Laurier diagonally, in order to set themselves up right in front of us, on the side of the CHUL hospital. On the pro-life side, of course Pastor Bernard, his wife and their spunky eldest daughter were there. I noticed Marc and his wife, and a few others. I handed out some official Life Chain Codes of Conduct, then went to work holding my sign. I planted myself squarely facing the pro-choice crowd, sealed my lips, grabbed my "Abortion Kills Children" sign and my Finger Rosary, and started praying.
Some pro-choicers settle down on the pro-life side.
The third sign from the left says:
"If Mary had known about abortion, we would have had fewer problems"
which is semantically equivalent to: "DEATH TO JESUS!"
Over the course of the hour, many "waves" of pro-choicers would cross the street and come close to us, then recede back. Some insulted us, calling Pastor Bernard a pedophile, or proudly showing blasphemous signs. Some banged large sticks on the street, some wore masks, but nobody threw anything at us, or touched one of us.
"Neither God, nor Master, nor Moral Order".
You'd think they would be smart enough to realize that if there is no Moral Order,
then some terrorists could just come and shoot everybody!
But the pro-choice side is not known for being very logical.
I'm sure there were many calm, intelligent and polite pro-choicers, but as usual in such events, it's the ones with the biggest signs, the loudest voices and the most provocative gestures that get noticed.
Pastor Bernard Westerveld, official spokesperson for the Life Week
(to the right, praying with his head bowed down)
What obviously rattled the pro-choicers was the presence of a real, honest-to-God Catholic Priest. I guess following our official invitation, Cardinal Ouellet delegated Father Guillaume Loddé to represent all five Bishops and over three hundred Priests of the Quebec Diocese. Maybe the Cardinal is getting ready to name Fr. Loddé as Director of the Quebec Seminary?
Father Guillaume Loddé, FSSP
But when a mother and her young children got down on their knees, signed themselves with the Cross of Christ, and started praying, the crowd of pro-choicers started screaming (see first picture at top of page). I do wish I had had a TV camera at that moment, because they really all started to scream at this Christian mother and her children! (All those present can confirm this.) Come to think of it, all of the media called them "Pro-choice", but wasn't it also an anti-Christian demonstration?
Part of the flyer the pro-choice side handed to everybody, including motorists.
A Christian (wearing a large Cross on his chest) is being kicked below the belt.
Based on the explicit graphic, and the just as explicit endorsement,
the Québec Solidaire political party appears in favor of encouraging violence and racism
(As long as it is only directed against Christians)
From what I heard (I don't have a TV), we got coverage on all major TV networks, and all local newspapers had at least a short article on the event. Of course, the quality of information was often hilarious. For example, the Journal de Québec article (2007-Oct-08, page 8) is titled: "Pro-Life Prayers Buried" ("enterrées" in French, as in "I couldn't hear what you were saying, because the noise from the passing train buried you"). I don't know how you can "bury" silent prayers. If a journalist wanted to get poetic, he could have said: "Pro-choice insults buried by pro-life silent prayers", which is what actually happened. The first line of the article states that "about 25 people answered the call of the Saint-Foy Reformed Church". Judge for yourself: Bernard Westerveld is Pastor of the Église Réformée Saint-Marc de Québec, and about half of the participants came from his congregation, but the other half were Catholics, many affiliated to the Saint-François-d'Assise church. The call to participate came from the non-denominational Life Week Committee.
Moreover, this newspaper states that "Mr. Westerveld's group is trying to re-start, in the Province of Quebec, the Life Team movement, which holds Pro-life demonstrations across Canada". First, it's "Life Chain", not "Life Team". Second, it's all over North America not just Canada. Third, it can't be "re-started" in the Province of Quebec, because it never stopped (Campaign Quebec Vie and Luc Gagnon keep it going). It had stopped in Quebec City for a few years.
Pastor Westerveld told me this journalist called him the day after the event, because he missed it! He also admitted not having been able to reach the pro-choice side, before writing his article! Moreover, this "report" was apparently also used for the Journal de Montréal and other Canadian newspapers! Journalism students, how many errors can you count?
Another striking aspect of the news coverage is that (as far as I know), none of the unglorious actions of the pro-choicers ended up on TV or in the newspapers. I haven't seen or heard mention of the many anti-Christian insults they yelled or showed on signs, nor seen pictures of the masked men mocking us, nor videos of the pro-choicers spray-painting a hopscotch game in the middle of the busiest boulevard in Quebec City, then goading two young kids (about 5 and 7) into going in the street to play, while the adults remained safely on the sidewalk. (Couldn't they use chalk instead of spray paint? And why the middle of a boulevard, when the sidewalk at the hospital entrance is humongously wide?) And come to think of it, how come they were about 80 pro-choicers, almost all in their twenties and thirties, and there were only 2 kids on their side, while we were about 25 and had a large proportion of married couples with very young children? Does this have some kind of connection with the philosophical positions we respectively represent?
Speaking of media coverage, the Vice-Chairperson of the Life Week Committee, Ms. Isabelle Bégin, gave a 20 minute interview on the 93.3 FM radio station, the day after the Life Chain. Five persons called (4 men and one woman), each and every one was against abortion, and each had a different, complementary and well-articulated point of view. She was able to give the web site address www.droitdesavoir.org several times, and the radio host said he was surprized by the information she provided. Isabelle had the opportunity of dismantling several myths (like the "constitutional right to abortion"; "the unborn child is not a human person"; "women freely choose abortion, with an informed consent, and with good access to other options", etc.). At the end, Isabelle suggested that the host could re-invite us during a special program, and she thanked him for his open mind.
My personal most frustrating moment, during the Life Chain, was when most pro-choicers calmed down a bit, stopped yelling insults and switched to plain questions. The Life Chain is one hour of silent prayer, so I couldn't talk to them. Many pro-choicers concluded that we were not interested in dialogue, which of course is absolutely false. I'm sure if we had the opportunity to drink a hot chocolate together, and express our views, they would be much more friendly with us. Next year, during Life Week, I personally think we should have a "Life Debate" before the Life Chain.
The hard part would be to find somebody or some organization "neutral" enough to welcome both parties to a courteous and franc debate on this very important issue. That might be something that Christians and Communist Anarchists could agree to pray for!
Next year, we need to have a Life Debate before the Life Chain!