This coming Friday, January 22nd, our American bishops are asking all Catholics to observe a terrible anniversary with a day of prayer and fasting for the legal protection of the unborn. This will be the 48th anniversary of the day the U.S. Supreme Court decided to declare war on innocent, unborn human life in the womb, with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and some companion cases forcing states to recognize a Constitutional so-called “right” to kill that unborn child for nearly any reason. Our country has not been the same since. There will be a special Mass at St. Peter’s at 8:30 a.m. that day to pray for this intention.
As Christians, one of our most important obligations, indeed the fundamental obligation regarding human rights, is to protect the life of the innocent unborn. We must never grow tired of proclaiming Christ’s Gospel: that every human life is sacred, created by God in His image and likeness, as a beautiful gift to all; as well as to doing whatever is morally permissible to defend that gift. In recent times, many of those promoting the Gospel of Life have emphasized the positive side of this struggle, focusing on the gift and beauty of the child within the womb. That’s all well and good. It is certainly consistent with the Christmas miracle we have just celebrated. But we should never forget the “flip side,” the terrible crime it is to take innocent life, as the pro-abortion forces of evil continue to try to hide this diabolical destruction by euphemisms and re-direction.
We should remember that the Church has always been opposed to the taking of life in the womb, from the beginning, even before our much medically advanced understanding of how the baby develops in utero. In the early centuries, in fact, this was one of the distinguishing marks of the Church, differentiating her from the pagan customs of treating infant life as disposable.
Over the centuries, the Church has spoken with increasing clarity on this most fundamental of rights. For example, here is what the pastoral constitution of Vatican II said in the 1960s:
“For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on [people] the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes [Para. 51]”
Pope Francis has reiterated that teaching on several occasions, quoting this Council and saying this:
“We know human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that to life, which is not subject to any conditions, neither economic nor qualitative nor ideological. It is therefore necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the mother’s womb is the innocent par excellence.”
There, he also reiterated the Church’s mercy, reminding us that those women (and men) who have participated in abortion can and should seek God’s forgiveness and mercy. (If you know someone who is in need of this mercy, please contact me or the Archdiocesan Family Life Office, which sponsors retreats for those seeking forgiveness).
It is important to understand what the Holy Father is saying here. There are some acts which are usually wrong, but can be justified in certain circumstances. For example, it is generally wrong to engage in shoplifting, but if one’s family is starving, it could be justified to take a loaf of bread from a store without immediately paying. But the taking of innocent life is different: if directly intended, for its own sake, it is always gravely wrong under all circumstances, as a violation of the Fifth Commandment. Thus, even for women in difficult economic circumstances, there is no way to justify the taking of innocent life.
It is a great work of mercy for Christian communities to help women who feel desperate enough to have someone take the lives of their children, so they have someplace to turn. We are grateful for so many Christian apostolates who do just that.
This year, there is certainly a dark pall over our nation, as, just two days before this day of prayer and fasting, we will witness the inauguration of a President and Vice-President who are almost certain to be more aggressively pro-abortion than any other executives in our history. To make matters worse, because the pro-abortion Democrat Party will now control
both houses of Congress, there will be little political check on their agenda at the federal level. That makes it all the more important for us to continue to pray and act to defend life at the local level.
We are seeing a growing and disturbing trend not only in the Democrat Party but in their many powerful allies, including big tech and much of the corporate world, to attempt to silence those who disagree with them. While as Christians we are committed to acting in love, without hatred or violence, we will never be silent.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn, pray for us!