A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., to mark the 47th anniversary of the legalization of abortion:

There is one thing we all have in common.  Regardless of our race or place of natural origin; regardless of our religion or absence of it; regardless of our age or status or station in life: God gave us the gift of life, which our mothers carried until the day of our birth. We were allowed to live! 

Every human being who has ever walked the face of this earth shares that one thing in common. And from the moment of our conception until the day of our natural death, we celebrate with gratitude our God-given right to life.  Nothing is more fundamental and more precious than that one human right.

That is what we promote every year in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., conscious of that basic human right, committed to that basic human right, in the face of those who seek to deny that basic human right to the most vulnerable in our society: the unborn child in the womb.

There are those, our fellow human beings who themselves possess and enjoy that human right – thanks to the God who gave them life, thanks to their mothers who decided that they should have it – there are those, our fellow human beings, who seek with everything in their power to deny that human right to life to children in the womb because the Supreme Court of the United States made it possible through their infamous decision “Roe v. Wade” 47 years ago, the beginning of a “national nightmare.” 

Nightmares, however, although terrifying, are not real.  “Roe v. Wade” is very real.  Since its pronouncement in 1973, over 61 million legal abortions have occurred in the United States.  For our perspective, that number is larger than the population of any state in our country.   “Roe v. Wade” was and ever remains one of the darkest days in the history of our nation.  And other nations were quick to follow. 

Thomas Jefferson said it well: “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government (“Address to the Republicans of Washington County, Maryland,” March 31, 1809).”

The human right to life is not simply a religious right; nor is it the making of the “religious right” as some often suggest, no.  It is a human right without which no other human rights can be, no other human rights can exist, no other human rights can prevail no matter how clever or deceptive we can disguise our opposition.

We who are religious, however, we who are people of faith, who believe in God who created us, embrace that human right to life in the deepest parts of our very being, first, as humans, and right behind that, as Catholics and people of faith.

Our Holy Father, as his predecessors before him, has spoken clearly: 

Human life is sacred and inviolable. Every civil right is based on the recognition of the first, fundamental right, the right to life, which is not subject to any condition, of a qualitative, economic and certainly not of an ideological nature (“Address to the Italian Movement for Life,” April 11, 2014).

It is “necessary,” he continued,

… to reaffirm our solid opposition to any direct offense against life, especially when innocent and defenseless, and the unborn child in its mother's womb is the quintessence of innocence. Let us remember the words of Vatican Council II: 'Therefore, from the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.’

One month ago, Christians everywhere celebrated the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ, long anticipated in the writings of the prophets of old.  We believe that Christ was/is the plan of God for us and so he entered and assumed our humanity!  And he did so to save us from our sins, to save us from ourselves and the human judgments and decisions we make: human judgments and decisions against human life, human judgments and decisions against Christ, human judgments and decisions for death.

Jesus’ own words, “I have come that you may have life” (John 10:10) – Jesus’ own reason for being – must become our own as his followers.  They are the banner we carry as we “March for Life,” they are the banner we lift high in this Diocese, in Washington, D.C., and throughout the world.

“Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death and brought life to light through the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).  We must continue to bring “life to light” in every choice we make, every decision we uphold, every right we claim and affirm as human beings.

Light pierces darkness; death gives way to life.  Christ’s light is love.  And love saves lives.

In Jesus’ name, we pray as we prepare to go on our March for Life; we pray for the most vulnerable at the beginning of human life and for the legal protection of the unborn.  We cannot surrender to the “culture of death.” Together, we march for life!