My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
October is the month that the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month. During this month, the Church concentrates on making sure that we are following the life issues that greatly affect our society.
As this is the Year of St. Joseph, who is remembered as the faithful protector of Mother and Child, we seek the intercession of St. Joseph as he guided the Holy Family in difficult times. When Mary was found to be with child without having relations with a man, he was able to protect the Blessed Mother from shame and bring about the birth of our Savior.
St. Joseph is known as the Protector of the Redeemer. We seek the protection of St. Joseph during this month of October for all those whose lives are in danger, those in the womb, and those at the end of their life, since abortion and euthanasia seem to be the life issues that cry out today for attention.
The Gospel of Life is the heart of the saving message of Jesus in the world. Through the Incarnation and the birth of Our Lady, God revealed the dignity of human life. Human life is a gift of God; it is sacred and inviable. The Son of God united Himself with every human being and He desires for us to share in eternal life that He won for us.
For this reason, direct attacks on human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, are always unacceptable. Not only must human life not be taken, but it must always be protected with love and concern. And so the concern for human life is not just at its very beginning and natural end, but it goes to all of the life concerns that are so important. T
he quality of life issues is also part of the concern of the Church. In the past, as Cardinal Joseph Bernardin once said, this has been described as “a seamless garment” as all of the life issues are important. We recognize, however, that there are preeminent issues because when life is ended, either prematurely at its beginning or end, there is no life. This then deprives the person of life itself.
I will never forget a time when I was in high school at St. Benedict’s in Newark, New Jersey, in religion class when one of our priest professors posed a question to the class. He painted a very sympathetic picture of a young woman found to be pregnant without a husband. Our professor made the case that abortion might be acceptable in these circumstances.
I always participated in that class and raised my hand to offer an answer. I said, “In those circumstances, abortion might be acceptable.” Well, the response received from Fr. Ignatius Kohl was very clear. In one sentence, he said something that I have never forgotten and will never forget, “Being is better than non-being.”
Yes, the fact is that human life is inviable. And we can never, under any circumstances, interfere with taking a life. This is why the Church is consistent, even against the death penalty, in its teaching that the taking of human life is unacceptable, especially in today’s world culture. Yes, we need to learn lessons that we will never forget so that we will always stand with life.
We look to our political situation today, the new abortion law from the State of Texas, which went to the Supreme Court. It was decided, by 5 to 4, that the Supreme Court would not interfere with a law that seems for many to be extreme in prohibiting abortion when a heartbeat is detectable, normally from 6 to 7 weeks of life.
The human cry has gone out from the abortion industry, the right to abortion supporters, that this is a violation of our Constitution. The Supreme Court, in this decision, perhaps in eyeing another case they wish to take, may spell the end to Roe v Wade. During the last several days, they have returned to the Supreme Court for another decision to overturn the Texas law on some technical issues.
The fact is, Roe v Wade was decided on the basis of the Constitutional right to privacy. Certainly, we know that the framers of the US Constitution would never have envisioned this type of an interpretation. When the law is not clear, or does not intend something particular, it is up to the legislative branch of government to legislate. Pro-abortionists are fearful because public opinion clearly has changed regarding abortion. A majority of people in the United States, 61% according to a recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, believe that abortion should be limited and is not an unfettered right buried in the Constitution. Yet, time will tell what happens.
In the meantime, the legislative battles in the House of Representatives and the Senate continue. The efforts that ultimately led to the renewal of the Hyde Amendment this year, as part of the federal budget, were led by the extraordinary work of a Pro-Life Republican from Oklahoma, Senator James Lankford, a Southern Baptist. Senator Lankford was joined by his Republican colleagues and Democrat Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, a Roman Catholic, on upholding the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of government monies for abortions.
On a state level, however, government monies are used for abortion. The Hyde Amendment assures that federal government monies will not be used for abortions. Prior to the action of the U.S. Senate that preserved the Hyde Amendment, the House of Representatives, unfortunately, passed a budget amendment that failed to renew the Hyde Amendment, a measure that would have allowed for public monies to be used for abortion without restrictions.
The battle in the legislative branch of our government will continue, however. Unfortunately, the Democratic party has made this issue not just a plank in their platform of pro-abortion legislation but has excluded most Democrats from exercising their consciences in this regard.
This battle will continue for many years to come, unfortunately, until some final decision can be made. It is unfortunate that in this free society in which we live the right to life has come under such pressure when the resources that we have certainly can maintain quality of life at all levels.
Fortunately, the movement for euthanasia currently in the State of New York seems to have waned a bit; however, the fight will return, I am sure, at the New York State legislature when it reconvenes for the next session. We must be constantly watchful and exercise our rights as citizens of this great country and state to tell our elected representatives what we believe to be the correct way. Otherwise, we too will be implicated in not caring about the Right to Life.
In this month of October, we put out into the deep waters of political and social misunderstanding of life at its beginning and end, and sometimes even in the intervening times of life. Life is God’s greatest gift to us. And we must do all that we can to protect life, at all stages and in all circumstances.