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Times Review

October 28, 1999

Diocese of La Crosse

Priest: The tide is turning against abortion

 Stevens Point

"We are now winning and will eventually win big" is Father Richard Hogan's assessment of how the tide is turning in regard to abortion, America's premiere culture battle.

The victory will ultimately come about, he maintains, due to a praying army of faithful pro-lifers, prepared to go the distance on behalf of the unborn until this situation is turned around.

Father Hogan was the keynote speaker at the Diocese of La Crosse's fourth Gospel of Life ceremony and dinner. The event, held Sunday evening, Oct. 24 on the UW Stevens Point campus, was attended by about 150 individuals. This annual gathering, which was initiated by Bishop Raymond L . Burke, seeks to celebrate the vision of Pope John Paul II as articulated in his encyclical letter "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life".)

A priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul- Minneapolis, the 48 year old Father Hogan serves as associate director of Priests for Life, a pro life advocacy group based out of Staten Island, N.Y. This group works with priests and laity in promoting pro-life initiatives.

Pro-lifers, said Father Hogan, faced their nadir in 1992, as national elections delivered a numbing defeat. At that point, said Father Hogan, pro-lifers turned to their ultimate weapon of prayer, and since some strongly encouraging trends have emerged:

The number of annual abortions in the U.S. in recent years has dropped from the 1.6 million range to about 1.2 million. This drop is historically unprecedented since abortion's legalization in 1973.

A shift in favor of pro-life attitudes among college-age women, 51 percent of whom are now saying they are pro-life. For the next 15-20 years they constitute the target market of abortionist, which Father Hogan said signals trouble ahead for abortion purveyors.

Phenomenal and unprecedented conversions of former pro-abortionists to the pro life cause, among them Dr. Bernard Nathanson and Norma McCorvey.

A coming together of Christian denominations collaborating together closely in support of the pro life cause.

As uneasiness over the fall out effects of the sexual revolution that began in the 1960's. The lewdly undignified behavior of President Clinton, said the speaker, personifies what went wrong with the Woodstock generation. The 20-somethings, believes Father Hogan, are doing what most generations do- rejecting the mores of the generations that proceeded them.

Advances in scientific understanding have demolished the argument that life does not begin at conception. We know with scientific certainty, noted Father Hogan, that 3 billion pieces of information contained in the genetic code are generated at the moment of conception. In light of what we now know about life's beginnings, the pro-abortionist arguments have changed, said Father Hogan, and now they essentially claim, "Oh sure, it's a person, but it's a right to kill them." For those steeped in the Culture of Death mentality, he said, this is a logical conclusion, as is euthanasia.

Increased awareness and outreach to mothers who abort. While the souls of aborted children are living with the Lord, Father Hogan said that their mothers often live in mental anguish, especially years later when repressed guilt catches up with them.

"Let's love them both" is an attitude adopted increasingly by pro-lifers, believes Father Hogan.

The highly publicized flap over partial birth abortions was a blessing in disguise, said Father Hogan it well educated the public over the horrific and barbaric nature of any and all abortion procedures.

While declaring repeatedly his belief that the pro-life cause will ultimately triumph, Father Hogan cautioned that it won't be an overnight victory, but instead will be won gradually. He thanked those in the audience for their commitment to the cause, describing pro-lifers as participants in "the most generous, unselfish movement in the history of humankind." He concluded, "God will bless us and we're seeing the signs that the pro-life movement is going to win."

Following the keynote talk, 22 young people who are members of the Necedah Teens for Life did a dramatic presentation. Over the years this group, based out of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Necedah, ahs been involved in a wide variety of pro-life outreach efforts.

The program continued forward with the presentation of the Gospel of Life Award to individuals representing three different areas: Pro-Life Ken Hoffman, St. Mary's Parish, Tomah; Multi-Cultural- Ga Xue Thao, Wausau, and Boua Neg Yang, La Crosse, both Hmong catechists; Special Needs- Mary Ellen Schmelzer, Resurrection Parish, Wausau.

In his remarks prior to making the presentations, Bishop Burke commended Father Hogan for sharing his insight that prayer is what sustains the pro-life movement. He asked pro-lifers to continue the societal struggle to recognize the inviolable dignity of every human life, and to work toward the goal under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadualupe.

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