Through the Church
The premise of Priests for Life is that abortion will end through the Church, because Christ has conquered death, and it is He who works through each of us to bring this victory to every segment of our society.
By the "Church," I mean the entire Body of Christ. Pope John Paul II, in The Gospel of Life, told us, "No single person or group has a monopoly on the defense and promotion of life. These are everyone's task and responsibility" (EV 91). He says this after asserting that the effort must be ecumenical and, in fact, must include the involvement of all people of good will.
The United States Catholic Bishops have provided marvelous guidance on how the pro-life effort of the Catholic Church should be undertaken, and at the conclusion of their national Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities, they echo what John Paul II said in the quote above. They write, "We hold in high esteem all who proclaim and serve the Gospel of life. Through their peaceful activism, education, prayer, and service, they witness to God's truth and embody our Lord's command to love one another as he loves us. We assure them of our continuing prayers. And we renew our appeal to all in the Catholic community to join with them and with us in building a 'culture of life.'"
That openness to others, that esteem for those who work for life in every denomination, and even outside the realm of Christianity, is essential for success - and that attitude is inherently a Catholic attitude. The word "Catholic," after all, means "universal."
Those of you who follow my work know that we begin by energizing and activating the priests, who are called, by their ordination, to reach out well beyond the boundaries of the Catholic Church, and in fact to be spiritual fathers.
Back in 1994, I gave a talk to priests and lay leaders in the Philippines at the invitation of the local bishops. In that talk I said the following:
"It's not any easier to raise up a spiritual family than a physical family. Some people say: "Priests don't have any children, their lives must be easier." But that thinking tends toward materialism, which sees physical realities as the only realities. Spiritual realities are real ones too, and priests have spiritual children! Think of those who hear the preaching and embrace Christ and His Church, or receive new life by the sacraments. These are our spiritual children! If we are not of the mind that we are to be generative, that we are to bring spiritual children into the world, then we are practicing what might be called a clerical contraception. We are ordained to bring forth life and to do so generously." (For the full talk, see www.priestsforlife.org/articles/Role.html)
That's where we need to start. Let's pray that our priests be spiritual fathers bringing forth many children who will work hand in hand with all people to build the culture of life!
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