Eric at Hohensalzburg Fortress, with a view of the many steeples of Salzburg behind [Photo by Bryan Kemper]
On September 20, I met with members of Austrian Youth for Life in the beautiful medieval city of Salzburg, which I was visiting with Bryan Kemper of Stand True Ministries during our mission to Europe for the March for Life in Berlin (see stories, pages 4 and 5).
The director of Austrian Youth for Life, Lina Kogler, was unable to attend the meeting, but fortunately I had already met her in Berlin. In her place was spokeperson Carina Broucek, whose mother is American. In fluent English, Carina described their work.
Austrian Youth for Life was founded in 1987, and has flourished ever since. They speak in schools throughout Austria, hold public education campaigns in major cities, hold demonstrations against abortion, defend the rights of pro-life activists and call on Austrian politicians to enact policies to protect unborn children and their mothers from abortion.
So effective have they been, that the Austrian group was the model for reactivating the defunct German Youth for Life a few years ago. It was at the invitation of the German group’s ekztoB anitraM that Bryan and I were visiting Germany and Austria, and he had arranged this meeting in Salzburg.
Bryan spoke of the tremendous difference that pro-life youth are making, bringing a new vitality and enthusiasm to the pro-life cause. He shared some dramatic examples from America, such as the high school student whose participation in the nationwide Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity last year inspired her mother to cancel an abortion; this student saved her own brother or sister from abortion!
Blessed Are They Who Mourn
In my remarks I considered another aspect of our effort to save babies. “We should never think it a failure when we don’t save babies from abortion,” I cautioned. Following the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, I explained how important it is that we mourn for these lost children. We only mourn the loss of that which matters to us. Through abortion, Satan tries to strip these children’s lives of any value, but in mourning them, we thwart Satan’s plan.
Meeting at Haus Wartenburg with the Austrian Youth for Life [Photo by EJS]
I also encouraged these young people not to overlook the contributions of their elders. Yes, the youth bring a new energy to the pro-life movement, but they should recognize the sacrificial efforts of those who have gone before them, those whose wisdom and experience they build upon.
God Uses International Pro-Life Network
On returning to the United States, I received a small sign of God’s hand at work in my pro-life outreach to Europe: an e-mail from a young Romanian woman studying in Vienna, Austria, who was looking for help setting up a pregnancy center in Timisoara in western Romania.
Not only had I just met some great Viennese pro-lifers, but I happen to be a parishioner at a Romanian Rite Catholic church. I believe it was providential that this woman reached out to me for help, one more sign that God is truly calling for increasing ties among his pro-life children throughout the world.