“One of the soldiers thrust a lance into his side, and immediately a flow of blood and water came forth” (John 19:34).
Reflection: We worship Jesus’ heart. It is the core of the pro-life movement, which is a movement of self-sacrificing love. Nothing can stop the love of the Heart of Jesus, which is the meaning of the flame we see. This love is met by rejection and hatred, symbolized by the wound in the heart.
Prayer: Lord, when my love for the unborn is met with misunderstanding, ridicule, and persecution , fill my heart with yours, that I may continue to love those who cannot love me back. Amen.
The Supreme Court could have settled the question of whether federal bureaucrats may issue punishing, perhaps incapacitating, fines to faith-based organizations that refuse to participate in what we believe to be evil. Instead, the justices sent all of the cases in Zubik back to the four federal circuit courts that heard them first. The high court also asked those appeals courts to step away momentarily and give the two sides time to resolve the case on their own.
What will the administration do now? The White House’s latest “accommodation” proposal for religious nonprofit charities, schools and other organizations did not satisfy the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The proposal and each of its previous versions required faith-based groups seeking an exemption from the mandate to submit a form to an authority. Without this initiating action, abortion-causing drugs would not be made available to our employees. The basic requirement that we be complicit in the provision of abortifacients and other life-denying drugs, devices and procedures was a part of every government proposal. When we responded that we are forbidden by our faith to take part in this scheme—the government effectively retorted, “So what?
But both sides in Zubik have told the Supreme Court that a solution is theoretically possible.
For instance, the administration could, for once, actually listen to the Zubik petitioners—and to the scores of other faith-based groups that have lawsuits pending in lower courts—and propose a solution that does not hijack our health-insurance plans. The administration could, for example, make abortifacient/contraceptive coverage available to religious nonprofit employees through the ObamaCare exchanges, Title X (the federal program devoted to family-planning services), or separate arrangements with our own or another insurance company. In other words, don’t involve us, or the health-insurance plan we offer our employees, in the effort to expand coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.
The administration might be tempted to come up with a proposal that satisfies only those groups that have third-party insurance coverage—and not those that self-insure. This wouldn’t be acceptable, because self-insurers underwrite their own health-insurance plans and are, practically speaking, their own insurance companies. A government “accommodation” that offered as its only option a requirement that insurers of religious nonprofit groups offer the employees of those groups separate plans for abortifacients and contraceptives would still force self-insured religious groups to violate their faith.
“And they shall name him Emmanuel, a name that means ‘God is with us'” Matthew 1:23.
Reflection: In the midst of the abortion tragedy, the Church does not point fingers of condemnation. Rather, the Church extends hands of compassion and help, to lift up out of despair those who are tempted to abort their children. The Church informs her people of the many alternatives to abortion, and says “I am with you, and will enable you to say yes to life.”
Prayer: Lord, so many are tempted to abort because they feel alone. May we reach out to them, that they may know that we and you are with them. Amen
On July 25, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae, which means, “Of Human Life.” In that relatively short document, which you can find at priestsforlife.org, he outlines the Church’s vision of human life, marriage, and the connection between human love and the creative action of God.
Love and life are two very simple and very similar words, and they represent two gifts that go together. Love leads to life; it does not close it off. Love welcomes life, it is not afraid of it. Love and life go together because ultimately, they are simply two aspects of the one God.
One of the best ways you can observe this anniversary of Humanae Vitae is to read it. Go to priestsforlife.org and you will find the text along with helpful commentary.