„The most devastating thing on earth is when your mother’s womb becomes your grave”
These words, spoken in 1990 by the worth remembering poet, Ioan Alexandru have marked the foundation of the „Pro-vita Movement for Saving Life in Romania” (Romanian Prolife movement), after the anti-communist revolution in 1989.
Under the influence of Ioan Alexandru, whom he met by chance, and bearing the Holy Spirit of God, did Father Nicolae Tănase founded the lodgings for born and unborn children in Valea Plopului, where, ever since 1994, over 1000 souls have been saved from death.
We believe we are not wrong when saying that, within us, the ones who have joined this fighter for life, who is Father Nicolae from Valea Plopului, a bit of the Christian spirit of Ioan Alexandru has penetrated through him.
Founding the „Pro Vita” Movement for Saving Life in Romania and its first years
The first organised structure of the Pro Vita movement was formed in Romania on 15 May 1990.
At the end of a course of Hebrew language and literature at the University of Bucharest, prof. Ioan Alexandru, inspired by a conference in which he had participated in Oslo, together with the students gathered the signatures necessary for duly founding the Association. Constantin Brancoveanu and his 11 children, „martyr and father of the people” was chosen as spiritual patron of the association. The first management was elected: President Prof. Dr. Ioan Alexandru, Vice-president Eng. Silviu Despa, Vice-president Prof. Aurel Simionescu. (Before this moment, Ioan Alexandru and Silviu Despa had informally cooperated, in various projects, with the Christian organisations Christiana and Caritas, led at that time by Dr. Pavel Chirila and Emanuil Cosmovici, respectively, as well as with British charity organisations come to support the life of the helpless, especially of the children abandoned in the streets and orphan asylums.)
The main lines of action proposed were:
- defence of the rights of the unborn child;
- education of the youth in matters of life and family according to the Christian moral teaching;
- lobby in favour of a pro vita and pro family legislation.
Subsequently, the priest Tanase Nicolae shall be proposed Vice-President instead of Aurel Simionescu, the latter becoming Counsellor of the Association.
The Pro Vita Association was initially registered as having its office at the vicarage of the Church „Sf. Gheorghe Nou” in Bucharest, and then it received an office in a block at the foot of the Patriarchy hill, the place for prayer and meetings with the members remaining the porch of the Church „Sf. Gheorghe Nou”, where the tomb of Constantin Brancoveanu is located.
Together with few American pro life activists such as William and Peggy Desloge, a pre- and post-abortion counselling strategy was developed in the Bucharest hospitals. Later on, in Brasov the missionaries founded a maternal house and a video studio. Also in 1990 the first Romanian pro vita magazine was edited, „Right to Life”, after the meeting with Dr. John C. Willke, president of the International Right to Life (U.S.A.) organisation, president of Life Issues Institute Inc.
Also then the lobby for influencing the country’s legislation in favour of life and family began and requests were made to the two former presidents of Romania Ion Iliescu and Emil Constantinescu to find solutions for limitation of the abortion rate.
Different conferences and roundtables on the topics proposed by Pro Vita were organised having guests from Romania and abroad.
Shortly after Ioan Alexandru got sick, the control of the Association „Pro Vita Sf. Brancoveanu” was taken-over by the priest Nicolae Tanase, who had founded in the region Valenii de Munte an association „Pro vita for born and unborn”. The activity „Pro Vita Sf. Brancoveanu” was then limited to sustaining the organisation in the countryside, where the first centre for pre- and post-abortion counselling centre in Romania was created wherein the volunteers informed of the development stages of the child in the motherly womb, the risks to which the woman is subject due to abortion and data on family natural planning as well as offers for counselling and helping the women who were in the pregnancy crisis.
The lobby in the Parliament as well as pre- and post-abortion counselling women continued in Bucharest by the efforts of Silviu Despa, Ioachim Alexandru, Emanuel Cosmovici, William Desloge, Linda Hanson, Lucian Despa, Mihai Gheorghiu, James Randell Tift, Monica Boseff, Nannette Gonzales.
In 1998 by a protocol signed by Silviu Despa on behalf of Pro Vita, Dawn Menning on behalf of Global Partners and Jonathan Borisch on behalf of Pregnancy Resource Center International it was decided to establish the Foundation Pro Vita Clinic, having its head office in Cluj under the coordination of the doctor David Ille. Since then, many Christian pro vita type organisations have been developed in the main Romanian cities such as Pro Vita Medica and Estera in Timisoara, Primul Pas (First Step) in Iasi, Confident in Cluj, Iochebed in Oradea, Pro Vita Media in Bucharest, subsidiaries of the „Pro vita Association for Born and Unborn” in Valenii de Munte and others.
In 2006 The Romanian Federation of Orthodox Pro-vita Organisations was founded.
The work and efforts made by these persons and organisations is still difficult to quantify. Although plenty should be added to the above in relation to the Romanian provita movement, we would like to do so subsequently, further to a detailed research and evaluation so as to be sure that we have not forgotten anybody. Thanks to Silviu Despa, who wrote down or gathered most of these data.
World Congress for Life in Oslo
Shortly after the legalisation in Romania, of killing unborn children by abortion, after the evolution in December 1989, the poet and Christian deputy Ioan Alexandru was invited to participate in the World Congress for Life which took place in Oslo in May.
In this Congress, Ion Alexandru contributed with a lecture which had an extraordinary success. The approached topics were the Holy Trinity, chastity and power of prayer. At the same event he found out that Romania was among the countries with the highest rate of abortions in the world.
After this participation, the pro-life movement was to be also born in Romania, first of all thanks to Ioan Alexandru.
These are the poet’s words, written down by his collaborator Silviu Despa in 1990, after the Congress:
„It is a worldwide Congress, which is being held every two years in different countries, and which is called the Pro Vita Worldwide Congress for saving the lives of unborn children and of born children who have been outcast from society.
This gathering of scientists, priests, philosophers, poets, professors, missionaries from all over the world reached a common preoccupation out of love for life, generally, and for children, especially. It is known that there are many children who are killed annually while in their mothers’ wombs. Neither Hitler, nor Stalin, nor wars have made so many victims to life, as it does this state of darkness which rules humankind.
So, this is the most important problem for the entire globe.
It is not only because of the indifference of parents accepting abortion and of those who accept it, but it is also the lack of knowledge of certain families and an entire policy with ideologies which fight against humanity and underground opinion trends which are actually against life and implicitly, against God. It is an entire sinister and diabolic medicine, which goes on destroying fetuses and finding solutions for killing life before it even reaches this life. With these obscure forces which are working and manipulating life, we are confronting in this very moment.
The ones involved in this movement are aware of the fact that in every country there are such dark forces. They were representatives from all continents, from Latin America, Africa, Japan, North America, Canada, England and from all European countries, less these Eastern movements. I was invited on the Congress’ expense and I became aware of what is happening.
Romania is among the saddest countries in Europe nowadays. Children are killed by the thousand in here. So there is no time for us to delay the foundation of this organization, not even by an hour, because in an hour of delay other children die. We will immediately found it and this means now, this minute. There are people dieing. Either one saves life now, or never. It is known that this movement exists in Romania, that one can contact it. We will find resources in order to help families which decide not to kill their babies; we will find hostels for all abandoned children.
This is an organization addressing all confessions, parties, people who want to save lives. We are certain that people who fight the most on a global scale in order to save lives are Christians. I have seen extraordinary Christian in Japan. They told me about the situation in their country, about the way in which they fight to save lives. Saving lives does not mean only giving them food, but it is about saving their soul, as well, it is about offering them proper education, namely superior studies. The representative of Sister Theresa from India received a prize for having saved lives. There were doctors of an extraordinary inner beauty and with a strong spiritual engagement.
Christianity makes wonders everywhere. Where there are Christians, miracles happen. They know in whose name they save lives. My conference started from the fact that theology and philosophy must reassess their view of life. I started from the idea that humankind has lost its virginity. The cult for Virgin Mary and implicitly, the cult for the virgin have been rather removed by social life. Girls lose their virginity very early. It has been proved that many young people abandon their children because of illegitimate, concubine relations.
I emphasized the issue of chastity and I showed that the child’s pre-natal stage in its mother’s womb is seen in the Gospel as starting from the fact that Virgin Mary received Archangel Gabriel (the strength of God). So over any woman who bears a child in her womb there enters a strength from God in order to complete the work. They should not be afraid to give birth to the child because God is in that work. I talked about the scene when Virgin Mary was visited by Elisabeth and when John and Jesus talked from their mothers’ wombs. One of them was playing and Virgin Mary sang the famous Magnificat. I said then that man is the closest to God when it plays in its mother’s womb, not when he dies.
I saw an emblem representing a big globe with a child in it. There was also a praying monk. The child’s feet were like bee wings, after having flown from flower to flower. It seemed to be coming from Heaven. The baby seemed like an angel in its mother’s womb. How can one intervene? The scissors appeared, pulling it from its head and ripping it off there. It is terrible what is happening. So engaging ourselves in saving lives is essential in Romania.
Someone asked me what was going on in Romania, because during the Communist years, there was a law forbidding abortion and now children are killed by offering explanations. When there was dictatorship, children were still being born, and now, when there is freedom, the first thing you do is kill them? Who allowed this law to pass?, I was asked. It surprised me, because I did not know who was responsible for this, but we must think that the King of Belgium, while forced to sign the law regarding abortion, just a few weeks ago, preferred to resign than to sign it. The world is so confused and rotten, that they are ready to slaughter children. This does not mean that there are not forces, even in minority, who must fight back.
We must not expect to be popular, not even in Romania. We must not expect something spectacular, but in this absence of luck and weakness, we must fight. Currently, there isn’t any state or human strength which defends this innocent life, but minority forces, which are Christian, aware, as there are Christians who do not engage in this battle. We have a chance to do something by Christians and by people who are aware. Priests, ministers, will have to get involved, as well, not as institutions, but as people. Where is a movement of people, not of institutions, a brotherhood of all languages and peoples with the infant, with God, for saving lives.
I quoted the famous lyric 17 from Jeremiah 20 and I proposed it as the motto of the worldwide congress: ‘The most devastating thing on earth is when your mother’s womb becomes your grave.’ This kind of womb may never untie. Why? Because the mother gets pregnant with a dead man who cannot get out of her. Both in Europe and worldwide, the meaning of God as person in the Holy Trinity has been lost. The Holy Trinity has been lost, which is the most terrible symbol of the holy family on earth: father, mother, son.
I gave as an example from the Eastern tradition, Millet, a French painter, and his famous painting: father, mother and baby keeping its palms wide open as Christ when crucified. It rests its hands on its mother and father’s chests. God is not loneliness, God is communion. A statement was also made, which has been sent to the UN, being called the Right of Unborn Children. The first article says that God is the Creator of all seen and unseen things, so I proposed the Holy Trinity God to be the Creator. Only as God communion can we exist as communities. And family is the closest symbol to the Holy Trinity. This is how children come to this world, because one knows one lies under the mantle of the Holy Trinity (The three of you, the three of us, forgive us and bless us).
So the Holy Trinity, the rescue of virginity and the tremendous power of prayer were the main themes. This organization values prayer, churches, and families a lot, so that Christ enters all our homes. There will children be borne. The little child needs love. Where love does not exist, the child does not come.
Afterwards I presented parables from the country, about our great success in December, due to prayer. How we used to pray together in University Square and in Timişoara. Old Greece vanished when it could no longer pray. A people which can no longer pray eventually vanishes from history. And if a people vanishes, think of how can a man or a family vanish, without any trace left behind. It is known that in homes where there is not faith, there is no prayer. So regaining virginity, reviewing our attitude in face of God as the Holy Trinity and our praying, these are the only pillars which support us.
Thank God that He gave me this path; that I can talk and communicate with people, that I can be surrounded with so much love by a world of God. Everybody is not preoccupied by the lives of children. I hope we will also manage to build such a place, a Pro Vita community designed for saving life, which is the most important. They have een working for years and they have documents from every country about what is going on. We are entering this organization with the precise thought of saving lives in Romania. We must engage ourselves in doing something. There are a lot of young people leaving the country. Many of them fall pray to illusions and sin. We are liable for those who leave and for those who stay, but especially for those who do not reach this life, because our hatred does not let them to. Today we start our path with conviction and with absolute priority. And this cannot be done without Christ’s Gospel. Any sacrifice is useless in this sense. If Christ rewards us for a glass of water, imagine what we receive for a saved child! God help us!”
Declaration of the Rights of the Unborn Child
At the same Congress UN Declaration of the Rights of the Unborn Child was passed and delivered, charter of the fighters for life around the world. You can find it below:
„Declaration of the Rights of the Unborn Child
Because God is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen, and because He invested all humans with inherent dignity as from the moment of their creation, conception, namely as from fecundation within or outside the motherly womb, the participants in this Congress officially declare to unanimously agree the following:
This Declaration understands by ‘unborn child’ the man, whoever he may be, procreated naturally or artificially, within or outside the motherly womb, before he or she is born.
The partners to this Declaration want to observe and protect the rights mentioned in this declaration for any unborn child, with no discrimination of race, skin colour, sex, language, religion, political choices, view on the world, national, ethnic or social particularities, ownership or other status referring to the parents or tutors of the unborn child.
The partners to this Declaration shall take all effective measures in order to protect the child against the scientific or non-scientific operation that would affect the endangered unborn child’s health, development and good state.
The partners to this Declaration want to ensure to the unborn child all rights enjoyed by the other humans, especially the right to life and protection, based in the ‘U.N. Declarations’, in the provisions of all declarations of human rights, in the ‘International Conventions on Human Rights’, in the ‘Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Unborn Child’ in 1924, in ‘Declaration of the Rights of the Child ‘ in 1988.
The partners to this Declaration undertake to work in favour of the most important rights of the unborn child, emphasising the necessity to give weigh and detailed framework by judicial legislation to that bio-jurisdiction of ‘The Declaration of Geneva adopted by World Medical Association’, 1948, according to the current text altogether with the principles and rules on experiments on humans, as stipulated in Helsinki in the years 1964 and 1975.
The partners to this Declaration recognize the inherent right of the unborn child to life and shall put their best efforts to support the survival and development of the child.
The partners to this Declaration undertake to encourage or support a jurisdiction forbidding the following medical or non-medical aggressions against man as from the moment of its conception:
- a) cloning;
- b) transfer of a pre-embryo or embryo to something else than a human mother;
- c) sex selection;
- d) ectogenesis;
- e) induced abortion;
- f) use of human foetuses for transplant instead of others who died naturally or were spontaneously aborted;
- g) other harmful interventions, non-therapeutic on the pre-embryo, embryo or human fetus.
The partners to this Declaration consider that an unborn child suffering from congenital or other diseases should not be exposed to an intervention that would represent an impediment to its development.
The partners to this Declaration support all scientific contributions dealing with the good condition of the unborn child and their clinical applications.
Any unborn child has the right to a natural pregnancy specificity and to a corresponding development and has the right to be born.”