March for Life: Culmination of Many Efforts to Support and Protect Human Life
By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph
Throughout the past year the realities of the world around us have caused us to look long and hard at a many issues that endanger the well being of God’s people. In these columns I have shared with you the principles that help to insure the respect for human life and the dignity of the human person.
Here we have reflected on health care, capital punishment, the legitimate human needs of migrants, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. All of these issues and many more have a “common denominator”: the life and dignity of the human person, given to us irrevocably by God. Man-made law does not, of itself, establish right and wrong. God grants His graces, including the inestimable gift of human life. Law must work to safeguard and protect this life, and to establish norms for the good order of society. If law does not honor the primacy of human life, we as citizens must work to change and improve these structures in a manner that secures man’s most basic protections.
January 22, 2011, marks a particularly destructive moment in our nation’s history: the 38th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion in almost any circumstance and at any moment in a pregnancy. Almost 60 million surgical abortions have been recorded in the United States since then – the most horrendous taking of human life in history. The numbers of abortions worldwide are certainly greater as other nations have “followed our lead.”
Washington D.C. will again be the site of the “March for Life” which commemorates this sad anniversary. Because of some other important commitments this weekend in our Diocese, this is the first time in quite a few years that I will not be able to go to the March. I am very gratified that four buses of faithful from our diocese will make the trip this year. Bill Francis, Director of our Diocesan Respect Life Office, with the help of our parish coordinators, has organized a pilgrimage which is devotional and educational for the participants. The age-range of those traveling is between 8 and 80 years. I have made the trip more times than I can recall, and the bus ride is long and cramped; the D.C. weather is often snowy. But the crowds in the hundreds of thousands are inspiring. We mustn’t stop working peacefully, prayerfully, and within the legal structures of law to end abortion in our country. It is too monumental a disgrace to neglect or forget.
Critics will sometimes suggest that “Pro-Lifers” only care for people before they are born. The record shows that this is not true. Our own Catholic agencies – and so many of our parishes – care for people at every moment, “from the womb to the tomb.” There is, in fact, no other private institution that does as much to aid people in need than the Catholic Church; Period. As Catholics we also support with our taxes the many governmental interventions that assist people. No one has more soup kitchens and food banks; no private organization provides more counseling, or has more senior housing, or has more adoption centers; None. We train people for worthy employment; we aid released prisoners in getting a new start; we serve the urban core and the furthest rural communities. We look to the legal, physical and spiritual needs of migrants. In our Catholic hospitals we have never stopped caring for the sick and the dying. In our schools we form young people, in faith, for service and authentic leadership. And yes, we are among the most persistent champions of human life from its first moment until natural death.
I know you will join me in prayerfully supporting those who March in Washington this Monday, and all who speak and act, peacefully and prayerfully, in defense of the unborn. No elected official or appointed judge is worthy of our support, if among their many acts of just advocacy they will not support the most vulnerable of our human race.
We commend our efforts to our two most powerful patrons: Mary, Mother of Life and St. Joseph, Protector of the Family. Holy Mary our Hope; St. Joseph: Pray for us!