Detroit — I can see Canada from my Uber drop-off.
As I arrived to tour a new Catholic healthcare clinic, I hadn’t really thought of the geographic location of where I flew into the night before. But there, on the corner of the campus of a Catholic church, was a clear view of the Ambassador Bridge and our neighbor on the other side.
And I was stunned. Not only by my ignorance, but the powerful, practical symbolism.
The new Heart of Christ clinic is a Catholic, pro-life, whole-person medical clinic in Detroit for women and children, right across the border from where the culture of death is insidious. Are you elderly or ill? Homeless or poor? Mentally ill? Well, in Canada, there is pressure for you to consider medically assisted suicide. That’s where the laws and the culture and, most alarmingly, the doctors are today.
Being a New Yorker, we not only are known as the abortion capital of the country, but our state borders Canada, too, of course. I often think: How far away are we from where Canada is? And what are we doing to provide a counter-witness to what’s happening so close to us?
These days, Michigan has a governor, Gretchen Whitmer, who is in the business of abortion expansion, as many Democrats are. And her name is even a possibility for Democratic presidential nominee, should Joe Biden be replaced before the 2024 election. California’s Gavin Newsom made clear he is competition, though, when he replaced the late Senator Dianne Feinstein with the head of EMILY’s List, which elects abortion-supporting women to political office. She doesn’t even live in California. But the abortion lobby just wanted the assurance of a solid vote.
Loving women and children
The more we can do on our side of the border to show the kind of witness to love that Catholics before us have shown in the face of evil, the better chance our country has to be the kind of beacon it is meant to be. From its colonial days, religious freedom was a priority. George Washington left office emphasizing it. That is not fully appreciated today, needless to say.
After I got a tour of the clinic that was founded to love women and children in order to help them flourish in the spirit of everything the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the blessedness of the human person, I made a flight change and remembered that Father Solanus Casey, who was recently beatified, is buried in Detroit. Apparently close to no one in authority thought he was smart enough to be a priest. When he was eventually ordained, he was restricted from hearing confessions. His community made him a porter, which wasn’t usually a priest’s assignment. Well, at the front desk, his holiness drew people to him and thus to Christ. Now there’s a shrine, a mostly incorrupt body, and a saintly witness to humility and perseverance that the city needs to hear.
As Heart of Christ gets off the ground, state officials may try to give it grief. But they are not taking government funding to help alleviate some of that. At the end of the day, what matters is our commitment to loving others, to helping them see how much they are loved by God, and helping one another to heaven. And after the Dobbs Supreme Court decision that ended Roe v. Wade, this is the kind of project that is essential to launch and support.
And, O Canada, I do pray that you see, and this spark of Gospel love — with medical resources — spreads across the border even more than that wildfire smoke came to us earlier this year. May the culture of life be contagious.