My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
Each year on January 22, the Catholic Church in the United States, along with many others, recognizes the anniversary of the flawed Supreme Court decision entitled Roe v Wade. The decision was flawed because it was made on the basis of false information. Two women brought the lawsuit, and later recanted their claims. One said that she was never pregnant, and the other said her pregnancy was not a result of rape as we were previously told. On the basis of false facts, we have seen the massive abortion of over 50 million unborn children since 1973. There was one other flawed Supreme Court decision that fortunately was overturned which was the support of slavery in the United States in the Dred Scott decision.
But why do we commemorate tragic events? Well, it becomes a reminder to us that these events, especially the legalization of abortion in the United States, are injustices that must be overturned. This may not happen all at once. However, any attempt to limit the number of abortions is a step in the right direction. Notwithstanding the present political climate, which might lend some hope to future curtailment of abortion, it is our responsibility as Catholic Christians to work for the elimination of this stain on our national conscience.
Each year, the March for Life descends upon Washington, D.C. around the anniversary of Roe v Wade. This year because of the Presidential Inauguration, the March will be held on Friday, January 27. The event has become a civil rights expression regarding this issue. As Americans, we have a right to protest what we believe is wrong. These peaceful protests are being carried on mainly by our young people, who are the true pro-lifers. Our young generation has taken the baton from the older generation to witness what they believe in – the sanctity of life from its natural beginning to its natural end.
This year, our own Auxiliary Bishop James Massa will represent the Diocese of Brooklyn at the youth rally and Mass at the Verizon Center, followed by the procession down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.
Here in Brooklyn and Queens, there are monthly and even more frequent Masses at churches followed by processions to abortion clinics praying for and exercising non-violent protests against the evil of abortion. Recently, I received a monograph from Frederick W. Marks, Ph.D., who has chronicled the history of the Pro-Life movement of the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, especially the efforts of Msgr. Philip Reilly and his founding of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants. Perhaps it is not known, however, one Saturday morning each month, either myself or one of the auxiliary bishops of this diocese joins Msgr. Reilly for the celebration of Mass and then a procession to an abortion clinic where the Rosary is prayed both going to and coming from a clinic. These peaceful and non-violent demonstrations have proved helpful in diverting some women from having an abortion. There is never any constraint. A simple offer of prayer and assistance is given for those who wish to carry their child to term. Hopefully, the story chronicled by Dr. Marks will be published someday so that our diocese can be proud of our efforts to fight the evil of abortion and be encouraged to continue and grow the Pro-Life movement within Brooklyn and Queens.
Msgr. Reilly, now up in years, has never wavered in his devotion to this cause. One other major figure present at almost all of these abortion clinic prayer services was Detective Steven McDonald, who as you may know, recently passed away on January 10. At each Mass and procession, he arrived in his mobilized wheelchair. His breathing apparatus allowed him to pray with us, to be a witness to life. Steven McDonald was a man whose life was almost taken away by an errant teenager, whom he forgave. For more than 30 years, Detective McDonald lived his life as a symbol of forgiveness and a testament to the value of life no matter how difficult that life is to be lived.
It is my intention that we need to foster the organization of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, inviting our young people of the diocese in Brooklyn and Queens to attend these monthly, and sometimes weekly and daily, prayer rallies at abortion clinics. New York has become the abortion capital of the United States of America, with more than 98,000 abortions performed each year, according to a CDC survey. The second-highest state is Florida, reporting nearly 73,000 abortions. There are many heartwarming stories of people who have been turned away from abortion clinics solely by the power of prayer and a good word from those who would divert them from committing an abortion.
Not all of us are able to participate in the March for Life in Washington, or even these weekly prayer vigils. As we come close to the 43rd anniversary of Roe v Wade, we can join thousands of other Catholics across the United States in following “9 Days for Life” (9daysforlife.com), sponsored by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities (www.usccb.org/prolife). These are nine days of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of the life of every person.
First, we must pray for the respect and protection of every person and his or her life using short prayer guidelines with different intentions, reflections that are available each day.
Second, we can pledge together in prayer and action and fellowship with others who share our belief.
Finally, we can share our experience online in the modern means of social media. You may sign up now and participate beginning Saturday, January 21, and ending on Sunday, January 29, or whenever you can begin these nine days for life.
Putting out into the deep for defending life demands prayer and sacrifice. Doing whatever you can for the cause of life will allow you to understand better the meaning of your own life.