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Tomorrow We March

Homily of Bernard Cardinal Law

On the Occasion of the Vigil of the 23rd Annual March for Life

January 21, 1996

News Release

United States Catholic Conference
Office for Media Relations
3211 Fourth Street, N E. Wash., D.C. 20017-1194

DATE: January 22, 1996

FROM: Sr. Mary Ann Walsh
202-541-3200
301-587-4762

 

CATHOLICS SHOULD AVOID POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY AND BE PRO-LIFE
SAYS CARDINAL LAW
ON EVE OF ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY

WASHINGTON--Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-life Activities, urged Catholics to shun political expediency and be "unconditionally pro-life."

"To support abortion, to advocate the right to choose an abortion can in no way be considered a Catholic option," said Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston.

Cardinal Law made his comments January 21, at the annual Mass at the Basilica or the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the eve of the March for Life.

Cardinal Law cited Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, "The Gospel of Life," which described a Twentieth Century conflict between "the culture of death" and "the culture of life."

Cardinal Law noted that thousands would exercise their civic duty by participating in the March for Life, January 22. Yet, he added, "[a]ll too many of us, however, have hidden the Gospel of Life under the bushel basket of political expediency.

"How scandalous it is to see the evidence of Catholic votes supporting those who deny the Gospel of Life. It is easy to criticize Catholic elected representatives who nave rejected life. Do we not need to be even more concerned with the far greater number of Catholic voters who fail to challenge these politicians?

"Our task within the household of faith is clear and daunting, my brothers and sisters. It must be made abundantly clear in pulpits, in classrooms, in the lecture halls of our colleges and universities, in the Catholic press, in the way we vote that to be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life." Cardinal Law's remarks are attached.

 

Text

His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law

Chairman, NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities

Homily Delivered at the Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Sunday, January 21, 1996

Tomorrow we march. Tomorrow we make our case in the nation's public square in support of human life, of every human being, particularly those who are most vulnerable, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death. Tomorrow we exercise our right and responsibility as American citizens to seek legal protection for the unborn.

Let no one say that our advocacy on behalf of the unborn manifests an insensitivity to the suffering of others: the poor, the sick, the aged, the disabled. The Catholic Church is second to none in her advocacy for these, and in her many faceted outreach in loving service to those in need.

Tomorrow we speak out in behalf of the unborn because here in this city 23 years ago the Supreme Court robbed the most innocent among us of the inalienable, God-given right to life. We have not chosen the focus of our advocacy; the Supreme Court's action has determined that all men and women of good will must speak out against this abominable ruling and its deadly consequences.

Tomorrow we address our President, our Congress, and our fellow citizens with arguments drawn from an analysis of biological facts, from our legal history, from an appeal to our founding documents and the moral consensus of our nation which rejects abortion because it is the taking of an innocent human life.

Tomorrow we walk hand in hand with citizens of all faiths and of none who are united in the conviction that no Supreme Court decision, no law, no Presidential order has the right to condemn an innocent human being to death at the choice of another.

Tonight, however, we gather around this altar as men and women of faith, as the Church. How beautifully the Church is present here tonight. Young and not so young, women and men, religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, my brother cardinals. Archbishop Cacciavillan, the Apostolic Pro Nuncio to the United States, your presence is particularly dear to us all, for it makes present in a special way our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop, please convey to the Holy Father the profound respect and love which all of us gathered here have for him. Please tell his Holiness that we are particularly grateful for his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, (Evangelium Vitae), which he presented to the Church and to all people of good will on the Solemnity of the Annunciation last year.

We who are here are challenged by the words of the Holy Father who calls us to be aware "that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the 'culture of death' and the 'culture of life.' We find ourselves not only 'faced with,' but necessarily 'in the midst of' this conflict; we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life." That is what Catholics are called to: to be unconditionally pro-life. There is no ambiguity in the words of Peter's successor. To be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life. To support abortion, to advocate the right to choose an abortion can in no way be considered a Catholic option.

The words of the prophet Isaiah, having their fulfillment in Christ Jesus, apply also to the Church which is Christ extended in time and space. We, you and I, each of us individually as persons of faith and all of us together as Church are to be "a light to the nations" that the salvation of God "may reach to the ends of the earth."

The sad truth is, however, that an alarming number of Catholics have failed to hear and to take as their own the Gospel of Life. Too many of us have chosen to walk in the shadows of death rather than in the full light of Him who came that we might "have life and have it more abundantly."

Thousands of us will exercise our civic duty as citizens tomorrow inspired by the Gospel of Life. All too many of us, however, have hidden the Gospel of Life under the bushel basket of political expediency. How scandalous it is to see the evidence of Catholic votes supporting those who deny the Gospel of Life. It is easy to criticize Catholic elected representatives who have rejected life. Do we not need to be even more concerned with the far greater number of Catholic voters who fail to challenge these politicians?

Our task within the household of faith is clear and daunting, my brothers and sisters. It must be made abundantly clear in pulpits, in classrooms, in the lecture halls of our colleges and universities, in the Catholic press, in the way we vote that to be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life.

Our challenge is to present the beauty and truth of the Gospel of Life in love. The Holy Father points the way for us when he writes that "the unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ. Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God . . ."

With St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, we exult in the gift of faith in the Lord, for by this gift of faith "God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship." This is our task within the Church in a special way. We must seek to bring all into one under Christ's headship.

In that same letter, St. Paul tells us how we will achieve this unity. It is by being holy and blameless in his sight, it is by being full of love. Confident as we are in the Gospel of Life, we will mute its effectiveness if we do not proclaim it in love.

It is the love evident in the more than 3000 crisis pregnancy centers in this country, the love evident in the outstanding work of Catholic Charities throughout the land, the love permeating Project Rachel in many dioceses of our nation, the love expressed in prayer and in outreach to those caught up in the conflicting emotions and pressures of an unwanted pregnancy which will reveal the compelling truth of the Gospel of Life. We must speak the truth in love.

How beautifully the words of Jesus encourage us in our efforts. "Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me. See that you never despise one of these little ones . . . . It is no part of your heavenly Father's plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief."

In this Eucharist we offer ourselves in union with Christ and we beg that nourished by His Body and Blood we may be able to proclaim the Gospel of Life in lives of loving service to all those in need, particularly the little ones, particularly the little ones.

ON EVE OF ROE V. WADE ANNIVERSARY

WASHINGTON--Cardinal Bernard Law, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-life Activities, urged Catholics to shun political expediency and be "unconditionally pro-life."

"To support abortion, to advocate the right to choose an abortion can in no way be considered a Catholic option," said Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston.

Cardinal Law made his comments January 21, at the annual Mass at the Basilica or the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the eve of the March for Life.

Cardinal Law cited Pope John Paul II's 1995 encyclical, "The Gospel of Life," which described a Twentieth Century conflict between "the culture of death" and "the culture of life."

Cardinal Law noted that thousands would exercise their civic duty by participating in the March for Life, January 22. Yet, he added, "[a]ll too many of us, however, have hidden the Gospel of Life under the bushel basket of political expediency.

"How scandalous it is to see the evidence of Catholic votes supporting those who deny the Gospel of Life. It is easy to criticize Catholic elected representatives who nave rejected life. Do we not need to be even more concerned with the far greater number of Catholic voters who fail to challenge these politicians?

"Our task within the household of faith is clear and daunting, my brothers and sisters. It must be made abundantly clear in pulpits, in classrooms, in the lecture halls of our colleges and universities, in the Catholic press, in the way we vote that to be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life." Cardinal Law's remarks are attached.

 

Text

His Eminence, Bernard Cardinal Law

Chairman, NCCB Committee for Pro-Life Activities

Homily Delivered at the Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Sunday, January 21, 1996

Tomorrow we march. Tomorrow we make our case in the nation's public square in support of human life, of every human being, particularly those who are most vulnerable, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death. Tomorrow we exercise our right and responsibility as American citizens to seek legal protection for the unborn.

Let no one say that our advocacy on behalf of the unborn manifests an insensitivity to the suffering of others: the poor, the sick, the aged, the disabled. The Catholic Church is second to none in her advocacy for these, and in her many faceted outreach in loving service to those in need.

Tomorrow we speak out in behalf of the unborn because here in this city 23 years ago the Supreme Court robbed the most innocent among us of the inalienable, God-given right to life. We have not chosen the focus of our advocacy; the Supreme Court's action has determined that all men and women of good will must speak out against this abominable ruling and its deadly consequences.

Tomorrow we address our President, our Congress, and our fellow citizens with arguments drawn from an analysis of biological facts, from our legal history, from an appeal to our founding documents and the moral consensus of our nation which rejects abortion because it is the taking of an innocent human life.

Tomorrow we walk hand in hand with citizens of all faiths and of none who are united in the conviction that no Supreme Court decision, no law, no Presidential order has the right to condemn an innocent human being to death at the choice of another.

Tonight, however, we gather around this altar as men and women of faith, as the Church. How beautifully the Church is present here tonight. Young and not so young, women and men, religious sisters and brothers, seminarians, deacons, priests, bishops, my brother cardinals. Archbishop Cacciavillan, the Apostolic Pro Nuncio to the United States, your presence is particularly dear to us all, for it makes present in a special way our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

Archbishop, please convey to the Holy Father the profound respect and love which all of us gathered here have for him. Please tell his Holiness that we are particularly grateful for his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, (Evangelium Vitae), which he presented to the Church and to all people of good will on the Solemnity of the Annunciation last year.

We who are here are challenged by the words of the Holy Father who calls us to be aware "that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the 'culture of death' and the 'culture of life.' We find ourselves not only 'faced with,' but necessarily 'in the midst of' this conflict; we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life." That is what Catholics are called to: to be unconditionally pro-life. There is no ambiguity in the words of Peter's successor. To be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life. To support abortion, to advocate the right to choose an abortion can in no way be considered a Catholic option.

The words of the prophet Isaiah, having their fulfillment in Christ Jesus, apply also to the Church which is Christ extended in time and space. We, you and I, each of us individually as persons of faith and all of us together as Church are to be "a light to the nations" that the salvation of God "may reach to the ends of the earth."

The sad truth is, however, that an alarming number of Catholics have failed to hear and to take as their own the Gospel of Life. Too many of us have chosen to walk in the shadows of death rather than in the full light of Him who came that we might "have life and have it more abundantly."

Thousands of us will exercise our civic duty as citizens tomorrow inspired by the Gospel of Life. All too many of us, however, have hidden the Gospel of Life under the bushel basket of political expediency. How scandalous it is to see the evidence of Catholic votes supporting those who deny the Gospel of Life. It is easy to criticize Catholic elected representatives who have rejected life. Do we not need to be even more concerned with the far greater number of Catholic voters who fail to challenge these politicians?

Our task within the household of faith is clear and daunting, my brothers and sisters. It must be made abundantly clear in pulpits, in classrooms, in the lecture halls of our colleges and universities, in the Catholic press, in the way we vote that to be Catholic is to be unconditionally pro-life.

Our challenge is to present the beauty and truth of the Gospel of Life in love. The Holy Father points the way for us when he writes that "the unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ. Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God . . ."

With St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, we exult in the gift of faith in the Lord, for by this gift of faith "God has given us the wisdom to understand fully the mystery, the plan he was pleased to decree in Christ, to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ's headship." This is our task within the Church in a special way. We must seek to bring all into one under Christ's headship.

In that same letter, St. Paul tells us how we will achieve this unity. It is by being holy and blameless in his sight, it is by being full of love. Confident as we are in the Gospel of Life, we will mute its effectiveness if we do not proclaim it in love.

It is the love evident in the more than 3000 crisis pregnancy centers in this country, the love evident in the outstanding work of Catholic Charities throughout the land, the love permeating Project Rachel in many dioceses of our nation, the love expressed in prayer and in outreach to those caught up in the conflicting emotions and pressures of an unwanted pregnancy which will reveal the compelling truth of the Gospel of Life. We must speak the truth in love.

How beautifully the words of Jesus encourage us in our efforts. "Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me. See that you never despise one of these little ones . . . . It is no part of your heavenly Father's plan that a single one of these little ones shall ever come to grief."

In this Eucharist we offer ourselves in union with Christ and we beg that nourished by His Body and Blood we may be able to proclaim the Gospel of Life in lives of loving service to all those in need, particularly the little ones, particularly the little ones.

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

Priests for Life
PO Box 141172 • Staten Island, NY 10314
Tel. 888-735-3448, (718) 980-4400 • Fax 718-980-6515
mail@priestsforlife.org