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home : from the bishop : from the bishop January 20, 2019

Homily from Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., for the Mass for Life, Jan. 22, 2018

Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M.

The tragedy of abortion has continued to repeat itself millions of times in the last 45 years since the United States Supreme Court rendered its decision in its landmark case, “Roe v. Wade.”  Today, the anniversary of that wrong-headed judicial pronouncement is a day tinged with sorrow and regret.  It is an example of the fact that what is legal is not always moral.  It is not opinion or emotion that makes it so.  It is the cold and sobering reality that what is ethically and morally wrong does not always find support in what a judicial body claims to be right and true.  The silent voices of over 53 million souls in the United States alone make the case.

One of the Founding Fathers of our nation, Thomas Jefferson, declared over 200 years ago that “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 United States Supreme Court in 1973 did not agree, at least as far as human life in the womb was concerned.  The inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, enshrined in the opening paragraphs of Jefferson’s “Declaration of Independence,” are not the decision of any judicial body or constitutional interpretation.  They are rights endowed in the very soul of every human person — born and unborn — by the Creator.  They are called “inalienable rights” because they cannot, should not, must not be taken away under the guise of some other rights, real or imagined.  A civilized people is not identified by its darkest moments —- of which “Roe v, Wade” is a prime example —- but, rather, by the noblest aspirations of its God-given purpose.

We are a nation sadly, tragically divided between the “right to life” or the “right to choose"; between those who identify as “pro-life” or “pro-choice"; between a “culture of life” or a “culture of death.”  God’s Word to us today, in the Gospel of St. Mark, reminds us in no uncertain terms that “if a Kingdom is divided against itself, if a house is divided against itself, it will not be able to stand.”  In the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we read “this is what the Lord asks, ‘if Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool, what kind of house shall you build for me’ (Isaiah 66:1)?”  A house that honors those inalienable rights that I, your Creator, have given you or a house built upon their destruction?  The Book of Deuteronomy has already given God’s answer for us: “Choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.  For the Lord is your life (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).”

This past Friday, hundreds of thousands of people once again assembled in our nation’s capitol to protest a decision that is legal but not moral, a decision that is constitutionally accepted but humanly and ethically flawed.  They represented virtually every religion and some, no religion at all.  Respect for human life, especially the unborn, was their rallying cry and their motivation, “Love Saves Lives.”  For the Christians among them, Jesus was their example, their inspiration, their conviction as he is ours here today.  The State House in Trenton is much closer than Washington, DC. But both marches, both rallies are part of one movement to build one united house on one solid foundation as ancient as the Book of Deuteronomy or the Gospel of Mark but as close as the nearest beating heart in the womb: choose life... choose love, love saves lives.

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