At his baptism, Jesus was anointed to proclaim the Good News to the poor, to open the eyes of the blind, to set the captives free, to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to bring about justice. All baptized Christians share in this mission, too, said Father Peter West, a member of Priests for Life who spoke at Masses at St. James Church in Omaha Jan. 8 and 9.
Through baptism comes great responsibility, including building a culture of life, he said.
“Pope John Paul II has called the culture that we live in a culture of death,” he said. “I believe that we can create the culture of life if we work together and we are faithful to our baptismal calling.”
A priest for the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., Father West was in Omaha Jan. 7-10 to speak to parishioners at St. James and to area high school students about pro-life issues, such as abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization and human cloning. He also was the featured speaker for the Nebraskans United for Life’s 32nd Annual Celebration for Life dinner.
This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Since that time there have been nearly 44 million abortions – one out of every four pregnancies, Father West said. And today there are additional challenges, such as human cloning, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia.
“To be pro-life means to be proactive,” said the pro-life activist. “We have to act out our belief.”
Putting that belief into action can include providing information to pregnant mothers and embracing our political responsibility, he said. Most importantly, it’s done with prayer.
“Pray for a greater respect for life in all stages of development. Pray for the unborn babies threatened by abortion. Pray for the elderly, the sick, the handicapped threatened by euthanasia. Pray for women who are tempted to have an abortion. Pray for men that they will understand their roles in being responsible husbands and fathers and guardians and defenders of life,” he said. “We also need to pray for doctors to use their skills not to take life, but to serve life, and for politicians, that they will stand up for the most basic human rights we have.”
In order to build a culture of life, there also must be forgiveness, healing and support shown to women and men wounded by abortion, said Father West, founder and director of Amicus, a Catholic young adult group.
“The Lord has called us to a victory of justice. Together, if we are faithful to our baptismal calling, we can bring about a culture of life and a civilization of love in which each and every human being will be welcomed, protected, nurtured and loved from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”