Our United Catholic Voices…
Famed American children’s poet, Dr. Seuss, reminds us in his famous work, Horton Hears a Who, that “A person is a person, no matter how small. Of course, this theme of the dignity of the Human Person is sprayed throughout the pages of the New Testament and enforced in the very words of Jesus who himself identifies with the “least of these.” It does not require a reading of the scriptures to understand that all persons have a dignity, value and worth. As I was once privileged to hear with my own ears the words of St. John Paul II: “The words ‘you shall not kill’ were engraved on the tablets of the Covenant – on the stone tablets of the Law. But, even before that, this law was engraved on the human heart, in the sanctuary of every individual’s conscience.” Friends, it is sad to see legislation pass in these United States that contradict the dignity of the human person and the dictates of a well-formed human conscience. Legislation in the state of New York now allows for the termination of the life of an unborn child right up until the moment the child exits the womb in all trimesters and months of pregnancy. Further, the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” fails even to protect the life of a child born as a result of a failed abortion. This legislation is egregious, and should outrage us all. I would like to share the statement of our own Bishop, along with the statement of the Bishop of Albany and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committee on Prolife activities:
From Bishop Dewane:
Let us be reminded that all Life begins at the moment of Conception, which for Catholics is not in dispute despite any new laws such as the recent law passed in New York State and introduced in the Virginia State Legislature.
Regarding abortion, the Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (2270-2271)
This should remind us that the killing of an innocent child through abortion is abhorrent. It is natural to want to speak out about such egregiousness, but first all are called to pray for an end to the scourge that is abortion. Pray also that our legislators and judges at the state and national levels stop celebrating laws that will end the life of a child.
If you disagree with laws such as the one recently passed in New York State, please write to your state and federal politicians to share your thoughts, disagreement and disgust on this critical issue. Meaningful change pertaining to this matter will not come until all stand together to give a voice to the voiceless, the vulnerable unborn children who in some places can now potentially face death up until the moment of their birth.
+ Frank J. Dewane
Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida
From Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, KS and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities:
Abortion has always been built on a lie. Today, the lie is switching from ‘abortion is a choice’ to ‘abortion is healthcare.’ A law recently passed in New York not only legalizes abortion essentially for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy but removes any protection for children born alive after abortion. A similar bill was proposed in Virginia along with several other states, all in the name of women’s health.
This legislation is evil, pure and simple. And it shocks the conscience to see such evil legislation greeted with raucous cheers and standing ovations. Most grieving to our Lord of Life is that those who advocate for abortion put their eternal souls in jeopardy.
It is sickeningly dishonest to claim that women’s lives or health depend on intentionally killing their children. This is especially true for late-term abortion, which always involves the purposeful destruction of a child which could have been born alive, with much less risk to the mother, had they both received real healthcare.
Now is the time for all Catholics—bishops, priests, and laity—to fight for the unborn with renewed vigor. We must educate family, friends, legislators, and fellow citizens about how it is never necessary to intentionally kill unborn children in order to save their mothers. Local action is especially important. Though ending Roe v. Wade is a central goal of the pro-life movement, if the decision were overturned, only eleven states would immediately ban abortion; the other thirty-nine states would still allow it.
I urge Catholics, and thoughtful Americans of all religions or none at all to advocate for local change. Sign up for your State Catholic Conference or diocesan pro-life advocacy network, which can help you communicate to elected officials. Or seek out state and local pro-life groups, including parish respect life groups, that are making a difference at the state level.
Though we live in very dark days, we know that the Lord has already triumphed over death. But we must use this time on earth to be His hands and feet. This means each of us rededicating ourselves to prayer, and fighting for the most vulnerable among us, especially unborn children and their mothers.
And from Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger, Bishop of Albany:
Dear Governor Cuomo,
Although in your recent State of the State address you cited your Catholic faith and said we should “stand with Pope Francis,” your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core. By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.
The so-called Reproductive Health Act (RHA) will expand abortion under the pretenses of choice and progress, which, in fact, it will do little to enhance. At the same time, this legislation threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor.
Contrary to what its proponents say, the RHA goes far beyond Roe vs. Wade in its aggressive extremism. Granting non-doctors permission to perform abortions does nothing to advance the security and health of women. Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner “un-pregnant” through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women. Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat. Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will.
It is very difficult to understand how you can align yourself with Pope Francis and so vehemently advocate such profoundly destructive legislation.
I find myself wondering how it can be viewed as “progress” to have gone from a society working to make abortion “rare” to one that urges women to “shout your abortion” as some advocates of this bill boldly announce.
How is it progress to ignore the harm that this will do, not only to innocent infants, born and unborn, but to their mothers? Does the heartache of so many New York women who have been pained by their abortion decisions matter? Is anyone listening to them? How is it really “pro-choice” when a law, which claims to guarantee choice, moves to expand only one option for women?
If abortion is deemed a fundamental right in New York State, will the State then still be able to issue licenses to pro-life nurses or physicians? Will health facilities which do not provide abortions be certified? Will the law allow that even one dollar be given to maternity services without offering women the “choice” of abortion? These are unanswered questions, but I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak. You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state. Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?
Our young people especially, who have seen their sonograms and who follow the discoveries the sciences have made, know the lies and the despair that proponents of such dangerous and death-dealing legislation are promulgating, even if blindly or unwittingly.
Giving up on life is no excuse for us as a responsible and compassionate people. In so doing, we evade the challenge of accompanying women and the families they are trying to nurture on the long journey. They deserve our courageous and ongoing support in creating conditions under which they will be free to bear and provide for their children.
As a society, we can and must do better. The teaching and intuition of our common faith readies us to help. It is an essential part of our mission to support the lives of all, especially the voiceless, the most vulnerable and marginalized, as Pope Francis always reminds us to do.
Let’s not bequeath to our children a culture of death, but together build a more humane society for the lives of all of our fellow citizens.
Mr. Cuomo, do not build this Death Star.
Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger Bishop of Albany
Friends, this is a civil rights issue. As the Church of Christ, we always stand in solidarity with the poor, marginalized and oppressed. While having a consistent life ethic means more than just being anti-abortion, and while we know we have to continue to fight for the health care of mothers, providing a better community for children born in poverty, and provide adequate care for children in the foster system, we must stand in clear opposition to this heinous law that undermines the truth about the human person, and further oppresses women and leaves people hurt in its wake. As Pope Francis recently stated about human abortion: “Their killing in huge numbers, with the endorsement of States, is a serious problem that undermines the foundations of the construction of justice, compromising the proper solution of any other human and social issue.” Let us unite as a Church to be the voice for the voiceless. Let us stand for life!