A Matter of the Heart -

 

Fr. Frank Pavone

 
  11/18/2002
  Priests for Life thanks the United States bishops for their statement "A Matter of the Heart," issued in observance of the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade (see www.usccb.org/bishops/heart.htm).

The statement is filled both with hope and determination, declaring that "Roe vs. Wade must be reversed," and also pointing out many signs of progress.

The word "heart" is used often in the statement. It speaks with special emphasis of the loving and hopeful hearts of the young. It speaks of the hearts of children broken by abortion. It speaks of the hearts of those tempted to abort, and broken by having aborted their child. The bishops point out that we must strive to know these hearts. We are no strangers to evil, temptation, and sin. We have all aborted God's will in our lives. We will know the hearts of the women and men ensnared by abortion to the extent that we strive with honesty and courage to know our own hearts.

The statement calls us to reach the hearts wounded by abortion, and give them hope. Abortion, indeed, is not only a sin against life, but a sin against hope. It says there is no future, no reason good enough to strive for life. To affirm life, on the other hand, is to say there is room for hope, and room to welcome the unwanted. Welcome opens the door to hope, and hope opens the door to life.

In calling for a ministry to the heart, the bishops also exercise it by their promise in this statement that the Church is ready to assist all who are pregnant and in need, and to accompany all who need repentance, healing and forgiveness.

The fact that the defense of life is "a matter of the heart" obviously does not exclude matters of the law, because this statement calls for a reversal in the law. The things of the heart and the things of the law affect each other in profound ways.

Yet evil, as our Lord told us, flows from what is in the heart. Nobody has to choose or tolerate abortion. No nation or public official should feel bound to uphold a "law of the land" that turns God's law upside down. The heart is free when it recognizes truth, and chooses what is good, despite the superficial attraction of evil. The heart is pure when it belongs to God, and thereby belongs to life.

The most fundamental sense in which the pro-life effort is "a matter of the heart" is that to end abortion, our hearts must be broken. This evil cannot simply be something we know about or debate. We have to allow it to grieve us, to bring us to tears, to bring us to our knees. "Blessed are those who mourn," for only when our hearts are broken can they open wide enough to receive the victory which has already been won, the victory of truth over lies, of hope over despair, of life over death.

Indeed, this is a matter of the heart.