The Power of an Image

Emily, I appreciate what you say. I try to look away from those graphic images. But I know I should look. Face the evil. And so I do and am both heartbroken, like you, and outraged and horrified.

But I was really saddened yesterday to see them. At one point in the morning I was rushing across Independence Avenue, I believe, and there were the genocide billboard display on one side and a truck with a video set up on the other side. If you were commuting to work and this is all you would encounter of the March for Life, this is what you would know of it.

Meanwhile, if you actually had or took the time to meet up with the March, you saw joyful faces and prayerful citizens. You saw witnesses to mercy and love. I was overwhelmed by them myself.

But if you simply encountered those photos … and aborted your own child, convinced someone to abort hers or yours … divorced from that message of mercy and love, my heart breaks, too, for you.

I do think we have to infuse everything with love. Truth, yes. But always with the message of mercy. And I’m not sure that last bit came across to anyone who encountered the March in brief yesterday.

About the videos appearing at the march, and the use of graphic images, Theresa Bonopartis, who does post-abortion healing work in New York, writes:

In a situation teaching about abortion these are powerful tools, but to thrust it on everyone with no regard or warning is irresponsible and self righteous. We are all sinners in need of His mercy. Some of us have different sins. Would anyone want their sins thrust in their face in the public square? Is this any different thanthe men who dragged out the woman caught in adultery? Jesus does not work that way. He did not shove her sins in the face of the sinful woman, or the Samaritan woman or any other great sinner He met. He did not  show her her sins, she knew very well what they were.Instead, He lowered His eyes and wroteint he sand so she would not feel ashamed…He converted her with love.

Some may say this is not just for post abortive people but the truth is countless numbers of them will be there as well a countless numbers of children.

Personally, I am glad I know I am a sinner. I am glad I know it is only through His grace and love that I am saved. I pray I would never presume to think I  know what others need to convert or that there was any sin I was not capable of. Without His grace we are all capable of anything and anything we do not do is only because of that grace.  I pray I always lead those who come to us to Him, the only one who saves,converts ,changes hearts and can end abortion.

I pray everyone who needs to hear that message of Divine Mercy will. Mercifully, there were a lot of prayers for just that this weekend.



  • Genevieve

    For me (and probably others) those graphic images are a near occasion of sin. As a devout Catholic suffering from infertility, it has become more difficult for me to have compassion for those who have had an abortion, in particular when I see those graphic images. When I see those graphic images, my thoughts move away from “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” to “How could they do that to their own child? to their patient?”. I judge first and then have to talk myself out of it.

    Seeing those photos also leads me to question God’s love and question my faith in Him: “God, how could you be a God of love and give not only your only son over to be slaughtered, but over 1 billion of your adopted children to be slaughtered?”

    With so much in the world to discourage and tempt us, do we really need more? Especially when making a witness of faith is such a spiritual battle as it is?

    There may be a time and place for those images (to educate people about the truth of what abortion does), but the March for LIFE (……….LIFE!) should not be it. It’s not the March for Death. It’s not March for Sinners. It’s the March for Life.

    Why not have a jumbo-tron/images of sonograms at different stages of life instead?

  • Theresa

    Jesus did not speak to the Samaritan women in front of the public…it was at the well where only the 2 of them were. SHE is the one who went and told everyone not Him.She was converted because of His mercy and compassion.

    Also, people chose to go to the Holocaust Museum.

    Again, I never said the images should not be used, I totally think they have value, but it is where and how they are used that we must pray about.

  • Seth

    It’s hard to look sin in the face. But by your logic we should dismantle the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Vietnam Memorial, and the Wall of Los Disparecidos in El Salvador.

    We have to acknowledge the photographs of the piles of shoes, the mass graves, the Rwandan roads lined with corpses, the killing fields, the Trail of Tears, the sites of massacre around the world.

    Only in confronting the truth do we bring justice to the victims.

    People are doing this to other people. Don’t look away- advocate for justice. Make yourself uncomfortable. You should not have the luxury of denial.

    Shredding babies should sicken us. If it sickens you, then be thankful that you’re still human.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin and abolitionists’ unabashed descriptions exposed slavery. Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle convinced government to regulate meat factories because it made them nauseous. Tribal councils of American Indians are STILL seeking reparations because we don’t like talking about what white people did to them.

    WE are doing this. WE are allowing this because we don’t want to offend people. We ought to be offended by abortion.

  • Anne Galivan

    I am not aware of what images are being discussed here, but I have to disagree with Theresa Bonopartis. Jesus dealt with each person as an individual. He didn’t need to “shove” the adulterous woman’s sin in her face – the crowd had already done that.

    He did confront the Samaritan woman with her sin. In fact, she ran to the people in the town and said, “He told me everything I ever did!”

    He healed a man by the pool of Bethesda and then said a curious thing, “Do not sin again or a worse thing may happen to you.” That man had lain by that pool for, I believe it was, 28 years. What sin caused him to come there? Jesus doesn’t tell us, but it was clear to that man that Jesus knew what it was and that he had better not “sin again.”

    It is incorrect to say that Jesus never “confronted” anyone with their sin. That he always acted in a way that WE perceive as love – the problem is sometimes it is the most loving thing to confront someone – perhaps with a powerful image, perhaps with a story. We hopefully are in tune with the Lord enough so that we know which it is. If we don’t, God can still use the situation. Don’t assume that a powerful, hurtful image can’t touch someone who needs that image.

  • Ed Mechmann

    I was just at a presentation that Archbishop Dolan gave at Fordham Law School on the Gospel of Life and the Law. One of the key points he made in the Q and A session was that there are two pillars of the pro-life message: truth and love. He noted that we are very good with the truth, but often lacking in the love.

    Interesting that the focus of the discussion here seems to be the effect of the post-abortion pictures on the viewer. But what about the baby herself? How does the use of these photos show love to her?

    To me, the use of these images to make a political point is to treat that person as an object to be used — the antithesis of love — not as a brother or sister to be mourned. Who would ever wish that their remains be used in such a way? Who would ever want that for a loved one?

    Lots of truth in those images. Honestly, very little love.



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