‘Radical Solidarity’: The call to respect life in all its stages

September 25, 2023 at 12:54 p.m.
Freepik photo
Freepik photo


A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for Respect Life Sunday (Oct. 1) and Respect Life Month (all of October) that have as their theme:  “Radical Solidarity.”

The long-overdue and historic overturning of the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision of the United States Supreme Court by the same body (different justices) in last year’s “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization” represents the end of one tragic era and the beginning of another. Abortion still exists in our country only now it is left to the states to determine its legislative legitimacy. Pro-abortion, pro-choice activists have refocused their attention on doing everything possible to enshrine open access to abortion in the laws of the 50 states. Their efforts have not diminished and many state legislatures have responded in their favor.

Other states have not and those of us who are anti-abortion and pro-life can take some encouragement in legislators and legislatures holding supporters of abortion at bay. The question remains in the “post-Roe era,” how long can we remain successful in promoting and protecting life in all its stages, from conception to natural death?

We cannot lose hope.

Here in New Jersey, countless unborn children — almost 49,000 according to recent statistics — remain victims of the most aggressive and most permissive pro-abortion legislative agenda in the nation. Its supporters from ordinary citizens to those occupying the highest levels of state government are unrelenting in their efforts, fostering a “culture of death” in the Garden State. New Jersey protects the “right” to abortion for all pregnant women, including minor girls. Here in our state, according to the Guttmacher Institute, as late as Aug. 29, 2023:

• Abortion is not restricted based on gestational age.

• State Medicaid funds cover abortion.

• “Qualified” health care professionals, not solely physicians, can provide abortions.

• State has a shield law to protect abortion providers from investigations by other states; may cover • patients and support organizations.

• New Jersey does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions — such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions — often found in other states.

• According to a February 2023 Monmouth University poll, “twice as many citizens in New Jersey identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’” — 6 in 10 — than in a similar poll 10 years ago: 62% pro-choice compared to 29% who currently call themselves “pro-life.”

Those are astonishing statistics!

Abortion is not simply a political or legislative issue, although it has certainly become that. It is, rather and more importantly, a fundamental moral issue, one of the most pre-eminent moral issues of our lifetime.

“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed (USCCB, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” 2020). Acceptance of and support for abortion, whether “in all cases” or subject to some conditions, reveals what human life really means to so many of our fellow New Jersey citizens. “Thou shall not kill” remains one of the Ten Commandments. The “self-evident” truth and “unalienable” right to life proclaimed by our national Declaration of Independence is not so evident and not so unalienable here.

USCCB poster

 I am not a politician or a civil legislator. I am a bishop and a man of faith. The phrase “endowed by their Creator” in reference to the truths and rights upon which our country was founded are the words that speak most profoundly to me in that historic Declaration. I always liked the words and conviction of President Kennedy in his famous Inaugural Address 185 years later: “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Abortion slaps the hand of the Creator who, alone, gave us the right to life and all other rights that flow from it. We owe our protection of and respect for life to the God who created us, not to the state. And our lives will return to him in his good time not ours.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops first established Respect Life Sunday in 1972 — the year before the fateful Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the United States Supreme Court —dedicating the entire month of October but especially its first Sunday to upholding the sacredness and dignity of human life in all its stages. In the “post-Roe era,” that designation continues to call for the renewal of the commitment of all Catholics and people of good will to pray and work, with all the means at their disposal, for the elimination of abortion wherever it exists and all other threats to human life, direct and indirect.  Pope Francis has urged:

Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection (Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 101, March 19, 2018).

The USCCB reminds us this year that “the Church’s entire social doctrine is guided by the fundamental principle that every human life has innate dignity and incomparable value.” That fundamental principle allows no compromise.

This Respect Life Sunday and Respect Life Month, Catholics — in particular, but not exclusively — must make it our aim to do all we can to provide pregnant women, mothers, children and families with the support they need to flourish. We must bring the word “respect” to life in a “radical solidarity” with them! This cannot be accomplished by laws or policy alone, but requires the continual transformation of our own hearts, recognizing in every person — born and unborn — the face and person of Christ, “walking with Moms in need” and placing their needs before our own.


Related Stories

A message from Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for Respect Life Sunday (Oct. 1) and Respect Life Month (all of October) that have as their theme:  “Radical Solidarity.”

The long-overdue and historic overturning of the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision of the United States Supreme Court by the same body (different justices) in last year’s “Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization” represents the end of one tragic era and the beginning of another. Abortion still exists in our country only now it is left to the states to determine its legislative legitimacy. Pro-abortion, pro-choice activists have refocused their attention on doing everything possible to enshrine open access to abortion in the laws of the 50 states. Their efforts have not diminished and many state legislatures have responded in their favor.

Other states have not and those of us who are anti-abortion and pro-life can take some encouragement in legislators and legislatures holding supporters of abortion at bay. The question remains in the “post-Roe era,” how long can we remain successful in promoting and protecting life in all its stages, from conception to natural death?

We cannot lose hope.

Here in New Jersey, countless unborn children — almost 49,000 according to recent statistics — remain victims of the most aggressive and most permissive pro-abortion legislative agenda in the nation. Its supporters from ordinary citizens to those occupying the highest levels of state government are unrelenting in their efforts, fostering a “culture of death” in the Garden State. New Jersey protects the “right” to abortion for all pregnant women, including minor girls. Here in our state, according to the Guttmacher Institute, as late as Aug. 29, 2023:

• Abortion is not restricted based on gestational age.

• State Medicaid funds cover abortion.

• “Qualified” health care professionals, not solely physicians, can provide abortions.

• State has a shield law to protect abortion providers from investigations by other states; may cover • patients and support organizations.

• New Jersey does not have any of the major types of abortion restrictions — such as waiting periods, mandated parental involvement or limitations on publicly funded abortions — often found in other states.

• According to a February 2023 Monmouth University poll, “twice as many citizens in New Jersey identify themselves as ‘pro-choice’” — 6 in 10 — than in a similar poll 10 years ago: 62% pro-choice compared to 29% who currently call themselves “pro-life.”

Those are astonishing statistics!

Abortion is not simply a political or legislative issue, although it has certainly become that. It is, rather and more importantly, a fundamental moral issue, one of the most pre-eminent moral issues of our lifetime.

“The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed (USCCB, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” 2020). Acceptance of and support for abortion, whether “in all cases” or subject to some conditions, reveals what human life really means to so many of our fellow New Jersey citizens. “Thou shall not kill” remains one of the Ten Commandments. The “self-evident” truth and “unalienable” right to life proclaimed by our national Declaration of Independence is not so evident and not so unalienable here.

USCCB poster

 I am not a politician or a civil legislator. I am a bishop and a man of faith. The phrase “endowed by their Creator” in reference to the truths and rights upon which our country was founded are the words that speak most profoundly to me in that historic Declaration. I always liked the words and conviction of President Kennedy in his famous Inaugural Address 185 years later: “The rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.”

Abortion slaps the hand of the Creator who, alone, gave us the right to life and all other rights that flow from it. We owe our protection of and respect for life to the God who created us, not to the state. And our lives will return to him in his good time not ours.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops first established Respect Life Sunday in 1972 — the year before the fateful Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the United States Supreme Court —dedicating the entire month of October but especially its first Sunday to upholding the sacredness and dignity of human life in all its stages. In the “post-Roe era,” that designation continues to call for the renewal of the commitment of all Catholics and people of good will to pray and work, with all the means at their disposal, for the elimination of abortion wherever it exists and all other threats to human life, direct and indirect.  Pope Francis has urged:

Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection (Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, 101, March 19, 2018).

The USCCB reminds us this year that “the Church’s entire social doctrine is guided by the fundamental principle that every human life has innate dignity and incomparable value.” That fundamental principle allows no compromise.

This Respect Life Sunday and Respect Life Month, Catholics — in particular, but not exclusively — must make it our aim to do all we can to provide pregnant women, mothers, children and families with the support they need to flourish. We must bring the word “respect” to life in a “radical solidarity” with them! This cannot be accomplished by laws or policy alone, but requires the continual transformation of our own hearts, recognizing in every person — born and unborn — the face and person of Christ, “walking with Moms in need” and placing their needs before our own.

Have a news tip? Email [email protected] or Call/Text 360-922-3092

e-Edition


e-edition

Sign up


for our email newsletters

Weekly Top Stories

Sign up to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every Sunday

Daily Updates & Breaking News Alerts

Sign up to get our daily updates and breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox daily

Latest Stories


Bishops' spring meeting opens with focus on anti-poverty arm, Eucharistic revival, mental health
The first day of the U.S. Catholic bishops' public meetings...

Despite knee issues, St. Rose’s Huisman wins another MOC gold in shot put
As his high school throwing career winds down, it’s tempting to wonder how great Josh Huisman would be ...

10 things that make for a great Catholic dad
Being a Catholic dad is both a great privilege and a big responsibility.

Ecumenism and papal primacy: Vatican releases status report on dialogues
The reason why the 2024 edition of the Vatican yearbook has re-inserted...

Pope says synodality should be 'permanent way of acting in the church'
– Pope Francis said he hopes the spirit of openness and dialogue ...


The Evangelist, 40 North Main Ave., Albany, NY, 12203-1422 | PHONE: 518-453-6688| FAX: 518-453-8448
© 2024 Trenton Monitor, All Rights Reserved.