Civic Response to the Gospel of Life

Fr. Denis G. Wilde, OSA

October 09, 2004

St Augustine’s Church, Florida

Today I speak of the biggest single cause of death in the world and certainly in this country. Every 23 seconds, 4000 a day, 1,350,000 each year, 45,000,000 in the last 30 years. It dwarfs the carnage of all the wars we ever fought. I'm talking about abortion. One of the tragedies of the present abortion debate taking place in the United States is that many Catholics are no longer credible witnesses to what they believe or to their own position in the debate. Often times the issue is framed as a political one. It is only partially that. Opposition to abortion is a moral and legal position.

In fact it is about human rights, not about this or that Catholic position nor this or that party. Our country was founded with the Declaration of Independence recognizing the first inalienable right, given to us by the Creator, not by George Washington or Jefferson or Ben Franklin.

On the basis of this framing of human rights under God constitutional government began and that critical moral and legal questions in the public arena were solved. Even when we went awry.

And we messed up before. Slavery was a right, invoked by the Supreme Court in 1857 which declared that Dred Scott, a black slave, was not a person, nor were any other black slaves. What kind of a right was it? The court said OK. That decision did not determine what was right in the lasting moral sense based on human rights that we recognize. That did not remove it from the realm of evil simply by calling it a right.

Nor by extension can any court change what is right in marriage between a man and a woman today. In the Dred Scot decision the Supreme Court allowed for slavery to continue until it was overturned through the blood of the civil war. What will we need to overturn the killing of 4,000 preborn babies each day, 1,350,000 a year, and 45 million since Roe v Wade gave us the so-called "right to elective abortion"? A so-called right that is absolute. Legally.

[Brothers and sisters, this year we believers are faced with a critical national choice. The founding fathers recognized fully that their religion needed to be carried out into the market place as well as, in their time, the battlefield. What they wrote in ink in Independence Hall had to be reasserted in blood at Valley Forge. It was done because it was a religious society steeped in Christian high ideals. But it was also a people who came together to forge a land where respect for freedom and life was paramount. The ugly scar of slavery, notwithstanding, did not destroy that dream. We overcame that abomination - tragically by the greatest war in our history and by the 13th, 14th and 15th constitutional amendments.]

Today there is no greater issue at stake than the right to life. The battle lines are drawn, and it runs to the heart of the culture. Government is already attacking the rights of the born and elderly. Today we are faced with a national crisis displayed in a senate and a house or representatives some of whose members continue to insist that the right to baby killing remain legal. They need to be dismissed. By voting them out! (Here we do not judge souls but the death of countless innocent unborn who will die as a result.)

Now there are many issues upon which we make a decision to vote. But Our Holy Father and our Bishops have made this abundantly clear that nothing can replace a full commitment to defending innocent human life, and still we have Catholic politicians who fly in the face of it and flout the Church's God given authority.

In the meantime in this election year, though there is much discussion about all sorts of issues, still, the voices of politicians will not dwell on this most important issue. It seems too volatile. But I ask you, as one third of our future work force and our offspring are aborted, who would have been the solution to our Social Security crisis, but have been thrown away before birth instead, because of "choice", - I ask you - where will we be before God if we do not do our share to stop pro-abort politicians from continuing to crush the rights of the preborn? Vote them out!

Our Holy Father and our national Bishops have indicated time and again that we cannot vote for pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-cloning nominees. That violates the faith. We are challenged and directed to vote pro-life. "Those who formulate law have an obligation in conscience to work towards correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and sinning against the common good."

But you need to register to vote. We are not going to outlaw this horrible scourge of abortion just by how we vote, I am aware of that. But voting is indeed a very important part of how we change things. Prayer and active education is necessary too - and persuading others - preferably before the election. Therefore you need to read about the position of the candidates and vote for the person who represents the defender of God's law to respect life foremost.

There can be no democracy without virtue, and there can be no human activity divorced from the moral law. And in matters of the moral law, the Church does not have the right to be silent. And it must clarify what is in some cases quite sinful. Knowingly voting for a pro-abortion nominee for president, senate, or any other position, in the hope that some lesser selfish benefit may come of it is misguided and often gravely sinful. You therefore need to reclaim the moral ground by voting pro-life - not party, politics, or pocketbook or unions. Those things come after assuring the right to life, just as surely as "pursuit of happiness" comes after "life" in those inalienable rights purposely ordered so in the Declaration of Independence.

I urge you to do your share reclaim what many feel is slipping from our midst: the power of our citizenry to determine the decent course of its government. Some may even scoff at the suggestion, that it is impossible to change, a pipe dream. But if we do not grapple with this now, I would hate to see what the future would look like in the hands of people who do not root their lives in the words of Jesus: "What you did to the least of my brethren you did to me. What you failed to do to the least of my brethren you failed to do to me." Instead there are those who would say "His Blood be on us and on our children," and even if they do not say that or intend that, their political position and their vote as a government official continues the slaughter.

We cannot go on killing off the preborn in the millions each year and think that it will have no consequence in our lives for here or eternity. We cannot continue to talk about terrorism from another land and ignore the greater terrorism of the womb that claims thousands each day. We need to elect people who will assure our future by guaranteeing the rights of those yet unborn, that they may live. By giving to those a voice who have no choice.

In the book of Deuteronomy we read how Moses led God¹s people to enter the Holy Land. It took forty years to cross 350 miles! Why did it take so long? Because God had to prepare this people for entry to the Promised Land. Remember they grumbled over the 'manna' from heaven ­ the first 'fast food'. They bickered among themselves continually. They broke the 10 commandments even before Moses delivered the tablets to them. God had to forge them into a people, a community.

When they were finally worthy of entering the Holy Land, Moses stood up before them and said, 'I place before you a choice ­ life or death. Choose life that you and your descendents may live!' (Deut 30, 30).

My brothers and sisters in Christ, these words should hit us between the eyes and resonate in our ears as vital and urgent as they were first uttered over 3000 years ago. We are at a crossroads of civilization, nothing less. The consequences are tremendous. Pray, work, act and vote to defend life, so that you and your descendents may live. Praise be the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.


Priests for Life
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