Abortion is like a gunshot wound, Father Mike Schmitz says — it requires immediate attention.
“If an overweight person comes into the ER with a gunshot wound, you’re not going to say, ‘OK, we need to get you on a regimen of diet and exercise,’” the popular podcaster priest recently told the New York Times Magazine. “It’s like: ‘No, you’re bleeding out. After this gets taken care of, we’ll address the underlying health issues.’”
The Minnesota Catholic priest made his comments in an interview published Sunday, where he challenged the idea that “pro-life” only means “anti-abortion.” Instead, he said, it stands for something more: supporting women and babies — both before and after birth.
“In our diocese there are multiple women’s care centers that, yes, they’re pro-life, meaning anti-abortion, but they’re all about providing options for women afterward who are in crisis pregnancies,” he said.
The Catholic Church is not only against abortion but also for life, he said.
“People say things like you mentioned: ‘You only care about having the baby born. You don’t care about what happens after the birth,’” Schmitz responded to staff writer David Marchese. “Actually, no.”
“There are all these services that the Church and members of the Church are providing to help take care of moms and children,” Schmitz said.
Schmitz is no stranger to the life issue. Earlier this year, he addressed the 2022 March for Life in Washington, D.C. But he spends most of his time in Minnesota, where he serves as a chaplain at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and as the director of youth ministry for the Duluth Diocese. Among his many projects, Schmitz is perhaps best known for his wildly popular podcast, “The Bible in a Year (With Fr. Mike Schmitz).”
For this reason, the magazine headline heralded him as a “Catholic podcasting star.”
Marchese asked the priest to address several hot-button issues and followed up with the gunshot-wound analogy, saying that “I don’t quite follow why it’s not the mother’s life that needs the urgent care.”
“I wouldn’t argue that,” Schmitz responded. “I would agree that the person in the midst of that is in a crisis. That’s real.”
He pointed to a local example.
“That’s one of the reasons why, at least in our town here in Duluth, we’ve had students who graduated from UMD who have started these women care centers,” he said, “because they’re like: ‘I’m pro-life, and when I mean pro-life, I don’t just mean anti-abortion. I mean, let’s help moms. Let’s help their children. Let’s help them get through the crisis so that they can start living not in crisis mode.’”
At another point in the interview, Schmitz responded to the argument that a woman has a right to abortion because it’s her body.
“But there’s also another human being involved in this,” he said. “That human being also has the right to bodily autonomy. That’s why they call it the right-to-life movement.”
Marchese asked Schmitz about his approach to engaging with people on more difficult teachings concerning issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and gay marriage.
Schmitz said that, first of all, he listens.
“With the big questions — and those are big ones — rather than say, ‘Here’s the answer,’ I’ll ask, ‘OK, where are you at with this?’” he said.
He said that he considers any conversation a win if he gets across the message that “God cares for you.”
In difficult situations where a woman might seek an abortion, or someone says he or she is attracted to members of the same sex, Schmitz pointed to the importance of the “Christian message.”
“You are good. You matter. God knows your name, and he’s entered into the brokenness so that you don’t have to be there alone,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be the thing that defines your life.”
God’s unconditional love for each person, as he or she is, changes hearts, he said.
“If I say he can love me now, it’s not just a matter of a feeling of this affection. It’s letting that love change me,” Schmitz said. “When I say that, I’m not saying those desires are gone or that I’m no longer pregnant. What I’m saying is, OK, if God has my permission to love me as I am right now, that means I don’t have to walk in shame. That means I’m not walking alone.”
He concluded: “When it comes to the big issues, the question is still the same, and the answer needs to be given: Does God have your permission to love you as you are right now? Yes or no?”