I Thought You Should Know
By Bishop Robert J. Hermann
Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO
January 27, 2009
I was very edified this past
Saturday to see the Cathedral almost filled for the Pro-Life Mass. Then to see
such a large contingent, on a very cold day, make a pilgrimage to the abortion
clinic, praying the Rosary for Life, was truly heartwarming.
At the very moment I am writing this, our new president, Barack Obama, is being
sworn into office. We congratulate him, and we pray for him, but we cannot
condone his pro-death policies, even while we are happy that so many people feel
they have new hope. We must do everything we can to oppose his
Joseph Bottum, in an article entitled "Abortion after Obama," writing in the
January 2009 edition of First Things, pages 13-15, tells us, "Now the 2008
election has brought us the presidency of Barack Obama, the most consistent
supporter of legalized abortion ever nominated by a majority party."
When asked about making decisions as to when a baby gets human rights, President
Obama answered that "is above my pay grade." He also stated that he would not
want his daughters "punished with a baby."
He has made it known that, upon taking office, he will remove all federal
restrictions on funding embryonic stem-cell research. He also intends to sign
the Freedom of Choice Act. Seldom has our nation ever been confronted with such
an extreme measure. The Freedom of Choice Act will invalidate for the entire
country all restrictions on abortion before viability, including parental
notification, waiting periods and partial-birth abortion bans. President Obama
has no problem supporting legislation that would even kill a child who survived
a botched abortion.
If at this stage our anger is directed at President Obama, our anger is
misdirected. Obama is not the enemy. He needs and deserves our prayers, not our
As Catholics, we are not guiltless. It seems to me that when President Kennedy
compromised Catholic teachings and accommodated political pressures in order to
be elected to the highest office in the land, he set the tone for many Catholic
leaders to follow and to compromise their Catholic principles to get ahead.
In our Supreme Court and in our Congress, we have a plethora of so-called
Catholics who are failing to live their Catholic identity. Over 50 percent of
our electorate voted for a president who is one of the most pro-culture-of-death
candidates from a major party to run for the highest office of the land.
Yes, we can thank one-half of our Catholics for bailing out on their faith!
After almost 50 years of having 50 percent of Catholics abandoning their
Catholic identity, we cannot expect to turn this culture around by short-term
In order to bring about a transformation from a culture of death to a culture of
life, we have to restore our Catholic identity.
This means that all of us, as Catholics, have to undergo a profound
transformation. It means that we have to take a good look at every facet of our
Catholic life, including the serious study of life issues, the regular and
devout use of our Sacramental system, especially the devout and weekly
attendance at Mass, the regular reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation,
the devout praying of the daily Rosary, and then the faithful, loving and firm
witness to lax Catholics about our Catholic beliefs and practices.
We have to live our lives in such a way that we will be unafraid to witness to
what we believe and live.
I may courageously say that I am willing to die to end abortion, but am I
equally willing to say that I am ready to let my ego get ruffled daily for the
same cause? Yet … that is where I need to arrive if I am to be a credible
What a glorious opportunity we all have to make a difference in the pro-life
cause. Until we are willing to be politically incorrect in order to be
biblically correct, we will never convince anyone that our religion is worth
It does not take 100 percent of our Catholics to transform this country. If 75
percent of our Catholics were steeped in Catholic identity, the abortion issue
would be over for our entire country. We have many, many evangelicals on our
side in the culture of life. Look at how many more of them would flock to our
side if we really lived our Catholic teachings! They, too, are looking for
changeless principles lived out in practice.
But there is more! Our laxity in living our Catholic life has blinded us into
not seeing the role of Satan in the culture of death. Satan is having a heyday
in our midst, because he has managed to remain invisible in the culture of
death, and our laxity has granted him that luxury. Since we are not steeped in
the Word of God as we should be, we do not recognize his darkness in our
society. Our first reading from Hebrews tells us, "The word of God is living and
effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and
spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the
St. Paul tells us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood but against
the power and principles of darkness. He also tells us that we should not let
the sun go down upon our anger so as to give Satan a foothold. These readings
are wake-up calls for us all. I bring this up deliberately, because I do not
want us to fall into Satan's trap of getting us to hate President Obama or any
of the pro-choice Catholic legislators in Congress. Being pro-life means that we
engage far more in spiritual warfare than in political warfare.
That Satan is very alive in influencing all of us is his best-kept secret.
Becoming steeped in the Word of God and the teachings of the Catholic Church
exposes his evil machinations.
President Obama, pro-choice legislators and Planned Parenthood are not our
enemies. Our enemies are the invisible forces masked behind these people. Most
of them do not have a clue that they are being deceived by our common enemy, the
devil. They are used by our common enemy, Satan, and his evil forces, to get us
to hate so that we, too, will end up in a culture of death. President Obama and
all pro-choice and pro-abortion legislators, as well as members supporting
Planned Parenthood (and we have in our own state a national legislator who has
received over $900,000 from groups that advocate for abortion rights) — these
are not our enemies. They are used by the evil one to get us to hate them in our
efforts to be pro-life and thereby ditch our pro-life efforts. We cannot fall
for that trap!
We owe all of them prayers and fasting for their conversion. At one point, Gov.
Reagan was California's very pro-abortion governor. Yet he became a very
pro-life president. He repented and regretted the evil he supported.
We must bravely witness against supporting pro-choice and pro-abortion
candidates in political elections, but pray daily for their conversion.
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