We are still basking in the after-glow of the visit of Pope Francis, and his words continue to resonate with both Catholics and non-Catholics. Even though he refused to resort to the harsh tone and adversarial rhetoric of certain Catholic leaders, he insisted on upholding Church doctrine in all his speeches. He spoke directly to the US bishops as he addressed a variety of issues and problems. Discussing the Church’s position of life issues, he said:
The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man's predatory relationship with nature -- at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters. It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent.
He continued the practice of previous popes who have strongly urged the faithful to embrace the seamless garment of life. As a result of the shocking revelations made public by the Planned Parenthood videos, our call to fight for the unborn takes on special urgency. We cannot remain silent bystanders.
Across the Catholic dioceses of the United States October is celebrated as Respect Life Month when we invite Catholics to reflect on their duty to nurture the Culture of Life. Even though we should look at life issues as a seamless garment, as Cardinal Bernardin suggested, every now and then we should focus our undivided attention on the moral question of abortion. Writing in a parish bulletin I am aware that I am preaching to the choir. Yet it is important to remind ourselves of this terrible scourge that ravages most of the so-called civilized world. We need to inculcate in our young people a strong abhorrence for abortion.
Underneath the unchanging teaching of the Church on the subject lies the unshakeable belief that every human life comes from the hand of God and as such, it is precious and non-disposable. Only God gives life and only He can take it away. It is pure semantics that leads people to say that the human embryo is just a mass of cells. No woman has ever given birth to anything but a human being – perhaps not as perfect as we would like it to be, nonetheless a human person. This human being must always be treated as an end and never as a means to some other end. This basic conviction is founded upon God’s words to Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jer 1:5)
Let me give you a quick summary of the Church’s teaching on abortion. I am quoting here directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
I invite all our parishioners to reflect seriously on the tens of millions of innocent lives that have been done away with since Roe v Wade in 1973. The blood of these helpless children cry out to God. Our society cannot ignore their voices. As our nation moves towards another election in November 2016, we must give serious consideration to this issue. Our voting choices must not overlook or minimize the gravity of this moral question.
Our Respect Life Committee is seeking new members to revitalize our efforts to cultivate greater sensitivity to life issues in the parish at large and in our young people in particular. I was personally touched by the words of John Morales, the director and producer of the movie, 40, during its screening last Sunday. I am appalled that such atrocities against the innocent are committed daily and the vast majority of our fellow countrymen seem either ignorant or apathetic. We need to pray for our country.
Let us pray the God of Life to change the hearts of our nation so that we will protect helpless unborn babies. Without the fundamental right to live, all other rights become irrelevant.
Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.
After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...