by Gordon Nary
Gordon: What parish do you attend and what do you find most rewarding as a parish member?
Robert: I attend Christ the King parish in Bedford, United Kingdom. There is beautiful liturgy with silence and reverence, a welcoming community that is the future of the Church. There are plenty of young families, some of whom are homeschooling. There is also a lively Legion of Mary group, regular and inspiring events and a sense of belonging.
I would say the most rewarding aspect of being a parish member is the foundation on a tradition in which the community lies with beauty, silence, and reverence in the liturgy and also the powerful and attractive sense of community that radiates from families there, especially with young children.
Gordon: Where did you attend college and what was your major?
Robert: I attended King’s College London and studied History from 2001-2004. I was particularly interested in British and European religious history in the last 500 years. I became a Catholic at university. I enjoyed studying Charles II and theories of secularization in the twentieth century. I also studied philosophy as I attended seminary for 2 years and pastoral education at the Maryvale Institute in Birmingham. I wrote a dissertation on Bible studies in Catholic parishes.
I have always been interested in the cultural and spiritual heritage of Britain, particularly its Christian history, most dramatically displayed by the monastic ruins which cover Britain to this day: a stark reminder of the 1,000-year Catholic history of our nation. Of real interest is the recusant Catholic era under Elizabethan England.
Gordon: What initially interested you in pro-life challenges?
Robert: I attended a talk given by Lord Alton on abortion at university where the graphic reality of abortion was shown in its true light. I was shocked but it woke me up not only to the reality of abortion but how the issue is the human rights tragedy of our age and also the leading cause of death.
What really interested me with pro-life challenges was the pastoral imperative to put our faith into action: if we really believe that children are being killed by logical consequence, we have to do something powerful and bold about it – we can’t just stand there. I also found the combination of a spiritual and pastoral response to abortion the most compelling: this problem makes God weep, and God calls Christians to respond to the tragedy of abortion by using their tools, talents, and treasures to change society around them: to bring a spiritual transfer of ownership from a culture of death to a culture of life.
Our own personal and spiritual lives can respond to the crisis of abortion and literally save lives from abortion right where we live. What I found most attractive to pro-life ministry was the opportunity to save lives on a daily basis – which most ministries do not directly have that kind of privilege. For me the pro-life movement is all about transformation: changing the lives of people in society by healing, bringing hope, saving children from abortion and inspiring hearts and minds, ultimately leading to the salvation of souls.
Gordon: How prevalent are abortions in the United Kingdom?
Robert: in 2018, there were 205,295 abortions in Britain. From 1967-2014, 8.7 million abortions were performed. More people have died from abortion than all the wars combined in human history. Also, Britain continues to pay for and export abortion throughout the world, including to countries where abortion is illegal, through the funding of abortion through taxpayer’s money to entities such as Marie Stopes International. Some have said that as many as one in three women in Britain has had an abortion.
In light of these figures which are unprecedented in the entirety of human history, we are called to change the culture one person at a time. God calls us to be faithful and not necessarily to be successful. He calls us to blossom where we are planted and let our light shine in the darkness which will not overcome it. We cannot change everybody, but we can pray, and God can change the world when we unite our will to the will of God. Prayer and fasting constitute the most powerful force in human history.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more, and we have the opportunity to help those in crisis pregnancies, bring hope and healing to the post-abortive, and education and inspiration to the young at risk of abortion. We must bring the pastoral, political and prophetic angles of the pro-life movement to light, regardless of how bad things are so that we one day will live in a society where no more women cry from the wounds of abortion and no more babies die from abortion.
Gordon: When were you appointed Director, International Campaigns, 40 days for life and what are your primary responsibilities?
Robert: I have worked as a volunteer for 40 Days for Life since 2010 and started working in a paid role since 2012. As International Director, I direct, attract and connect with new international leaders, work with existing leaders to encourage and improve campaigns and travel to support the international campaigns. We hold conferences, translate our materials into new languages, produce content including training and resources for our leaders to help end abortion directly and measurably.
In short, the role has been like having a front-row seat seeing God’s grace in action. We have seen nearly 17,000 lives saved from abortion, 104 abortion centers close, including the vigil I organized for 3 years, nearly 200 abortion workers quit from 1 million local volunteers, over 6,000 local campaigns and 19,000 Churches from 61 nations. I have seen whole countries sign up to participate. Our Croatian movement now prays outside every single location where abortion legally occurs in the country. I remember when they began.
There are over 40 vigils in Colombia where hundreds of lives have been saved from abortion. In the United Kingdom, we have witnessed an estimated 1,000 lives saved from abortion, while abortion providers count 52 protests in the UK, where there are 100 established abortion centers in the United Kingdom. There is more work to be done!
I have traveled to over 30 countries to promote and expand our ministry and witnessed growth from 20 international campaigns to nearly 200 today. I remember visiting an extraordinary woman called Doris Hipolito in Brazil who helped women in crisis pregnancies in the favelas who had helped to save over 3,000 lives in 23 years of ministry.
I have prayed in abortion centers that have just recently closed and literally felt the tangible pain still present in the building, just after closure. I have seen leaders transform communities from eager new recruits initially signing up to becoming accomplished in leadership through thousands of hours of dedication and sacrifice. I have seen women change their minds literally seconds before having an abortion, potentially avoiding a lifetime of regrets.
Also, we have witnessed remarkable results, miracles and legal threats, and anything from the spectrum of overwhelming praise to ridicule and persecution from national press and governments. I have seen and experienced individuals who have experienced a dramatic spiritual transformation. Take Alina Dulgheriu, a woman who chose life for her own child on the way into an abortion center. She is now taking her local council to court to prevent buffer zones and sharing her story through the national press of how pro-lifers helped her when she was most in need. Her personal story has now been shared with the nation as her court case reaches the Supreme Court in the UK.
The essence of 40 Days for Life is to help Christians end abortion where they live. This is a mission that can be taken up by anyone in simple and direct ways every day through prayer, community organizing, and outreach. Maybe God is calling you to help end abortion right where you live.
Gordon: Thank you for an exceptional interview.