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Address of His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law
at the Second Meeting of Politicians and Legislators of Europe

Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family

Vatican City

Friday, October 23, 1998


It is a privilege to have been asked to address this significant conference. I thank His Eminence, Cardinal Lopez Trujillo for his gracious invitation, and I commend him and his colleagues at the Pontifical Council for the Family for the many initiatives they have taken in the promotion of the right to life.

You who are participating in this meeting are a source of great encouragement to me. Your participation is a sign of your commitment to use your influence to create a civilization of love, to create a culture of life.

My task is to share some thoughts concerning issues involved in defending human life in the United States of America. Let me tell you a bit about myself so that you will be better able to evaluate my observations. Since 1984 I have served as Archbishop of Boston, which has a Catholic population of slightly more than 2 million persons. The Archdiocese of Boston is one of four dioceses within the State of Massachusetts which, as you know, is one among fifty states comprising the United States of America. The province of Boston includes three other states: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont. Each of these states has but one diocese.

Currently, I serve as Chairman of the Pro-Life Activities Committee of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. My three year term concludes in November of this year.

It is from my perspective as a local bishop and as Chairman of the Pro-Life Activities Committee that I make these observations.

It is always a temptation to make sweeping generalizations about a society. The temptation to apocalyptic rhetoric is always present in assessing my nation's response to the right to life. It is necessary to state, however, that it is difficult to generalize about the situation in my country or any country. When the Holy Father was departing from Detroit, Michigan after one of his pastoral visits to the United States, on September 19, 1987, he spoke to the nation in these words:

"America the beautiful! So you sing in one of your national songs. Yes, America, you are beautiful indeed, and blessed in so many ways:

  • In your majestic mountains and fertile plains;
  • In the goodness and sacrifice hidden in your teeming cities and expanding suburbs;
  • In your genius for invention and for splendid progress;
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