Strong spiritual dimension growing in North American Pro-Life Movement
John Cardinal O'Connor
Archbishop of New York
April 8, 1991
Abortion and euthanasia are threats against human beings only
because they are alive. This differs historically from threats against human
beings because of racial, religious, ethnic or other characteristics involved in
genocide. This evil is rooted in the rejection of God by those who would be gods
by determining what is good, what is evil, as in the case of Adam and Eve.
In both Canada and the United States the unborn are deprived of personhood
and constitutional protection. (Throughout the entire world, 30 to 50 million
unborn are aborted annually.)
A weakening of a sense of moral absolutes is resulting in making life itself
a relative value. The civil law becomes both the great teacher in society and
the arbiter of morality. Divine and natural law are subordinated to civil law,
as is Church teaching on the sacredness of human fife. Misinterpretations of
Vatican II's teaching on the role and authority of conscience have added to the
confusion. Powerful propaganda forces, such as large, wealthy pro-abortion
organizations, a press strongly supportive of abortion rights, widespread
ignorance that life begins at conception and that abortion is the destruction of
human life, and the creation of new terminologies to conceal the true nature of
abortion all help create an anti-life climate.
Much that is said of abortion can be said of euthanasia, assisted suicide and
The bishops of North America are engaged in widespread efforts to help
restore a sense of the sacredness of all human life and to influence public
policy for the protection of human life. Many lay persons and organizations
provide strong leadership and engage in heroic efforts along these lines, as do
many religious - contemplative and active - and priests.
A strong spiritual dimension is growing in the Pro-life Movement. Rosary
rallies are becoming common. A new religious community is being established,
called Sisters of Life, for the protection and advancement of all human
life, particularly the unborn. A new National Federation for Life is being
formed in the United States to help unite the efforts of the many pro-life
organizations already at work.
The Bishops of the United States recently reaffirmed their commitment to an
extensive pastoral plan which recognizes a "consistent ethic of life". A
unanimous resolution declared: "At this particular time, abortion has become the
fundamental human rights issue for all men and women of good will... No Catholic
can responsibly take a 'pro-choice' stand when the 'choice' in question involves
the taking of innocent human life" (NCCB).
The loss of life and the grave moral and spiritual damages to everyone
involved (including mothers who suffer abortions) in abortion and euthanasia are
severe and require critical action. The enormous pro-life efforts underway,
however, are a source of great hope and encouragement.