by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This Executive Order freed the slaves in the 10 states that were in rebellion. It was not until 1865, with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, that slavery was abolished in the United States.
How far we have come as a Nation that 160 years later we will celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States.
Yet, we also commemorate the 40th anniversary of our national shame: the lamentable Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy.
The so-called “pro-choice” movement has its roots in the ideology of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, who understood her call to be one who would “assist the race toward the elimination of the unfit.” Of course, a young Barack Obama was precisely the sort of unfit child that Sanger and her allies would want to eliminate.
Tragically, the President has not been an advocate for those young children faced with similarly difficult circumstances. He has chosen to use the bully pulpit not to call upon us all to be nobler and to embrace each child, regardless of origins and circumstances; rather, he has been a proponent of an expediency that is shameful and criminal in the eyes of Almighty God.
The forces of death press on from every side in contemporary American culture. It is clear there is an assault on the people of faith in our country. For instance, there are the current health insurance reforms that were imposed on our Nation obligating Catholic institutions to provide employees with medical procedures and services we believe to be in defiance of the will of God.
Adding insult to injury, the Obama Administration also presumes to dictate what are legitimate church corporations that are exempt from such directs and those that are not. Thus, if all employees are Catholic and you serve a Catholic constituency, the corporation is exempt. However, if you are the Little Sisters of the Poor and hire non-Catholic nurses and welcome non-Catholics into your home, you are not exempt.
We know that today an Administration that is hostile requires contraception and sterilization. However, as Government involves itself in our internal affairs, there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that the Government would seek to compel religious institutions to provide abortion services in the future.
The President and his supporters sought to make this election, at least in part, about women’s rights. Much has been written about how the targeting of key constituencies was intended to stimulate specific votes.
In my view, those who voted for President Obama bear the responsibility for a step deeper in the culture of death. Under the cover of women’s issues, we now see an assault on religious freedom and personal conscience.
In our own state, Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed the largest expansion of abortion rights in New York State history. The irony is that our leadership is proposing this at a time when increasingly more Americans oppose abortion and support greater restrictions upon abortions. New York State, which already holds the record for the most abortions in our country, is now expanding this culture of death. We may lose, but we will stand up for what we believe.
Some may think my tone a bit strident and even un-nuanced. Maybe the time has come for more direct conversation on these matters, if we hope to preserve what is left of our God-given and Constitutionally-protected rights.
Abraham Lincoln was a man who understood the intersection between politics and nobility. He never would have been able to pass the Thirteenth Amendment in 1863. But he started by freeing “slaves” in the Confederate States with his Emancipation Proclamation.
I would have hoped that the first African-American president of the United States would have stood on the side of freedom for all. Instead, he stands on the side of political expediency. Mr. Lincoln, with great difficulty, put out into the deep and paid with his life. Would that our political leaders today would have some of the same courage.