Catholics must not be indifferent, discouraged in cause of life

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Homily from the Mass at March for Life – Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Jan. 22.

The Catholic Church in the United States observes today, Jan. 22, as a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.” We do so since it was on January 22, 1973, that the Supreme Court of the United States legalized abortion across our nation in the infamous Roe v. Wade decision. The next year, the first March for Life was held. I remember as a sophomore in high school my classmates and I discussing the great injustice of the Roe v. Wade decision. As seniors, we participated in the second March for Life here in D.C. 

It has been 49 years since Roe v. Wade, and because of that decision, millions of unborn children have never seen the light of day. That decision has affected our culture deeply and led to a serious distortion in our society, a completely individualistic concept of freedom – the freedom to take another’s life, the freedom to kill the most vulnerable among us, the child in the womb. This year, there is a real atmosphere of hope that the Supreme Court may overcome Roe v. Wade as it considers the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, the most consequential challenge to Roe v. Wade in many years. Let us pray fervently during these months that the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, will illumine the minds of our Supreme Court justices. 

Roe v. Wade has contributed greatly to the serious moral decline that has taken place in our nation during these past 50 plus years. Many people find it more difficult to distinguish between good and evil in what concerns the most basic value, the value of human life. Pope St. John Paul II rightly called the culture that has been formed “a culture of death.” The permitting of the killing of the weakest and most innocent human beings is done in the name of freedom of choice or the rights of women. St. John Paul II wrote: “To claim the right to abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.” 

God has given us the great gift of freedom. This gift is fulfilled through the gift of self and openness to others. It is violated when it leads to the harm and destruction of others. Freedom to take the life of a child not yet born or to take the life of a person near the end of his/her life becomes a freedom of the strong against the weak and tramples upon the most fundamental human right, the right to life. (cf. EV 12)

In our first reading today, St. John wrote: “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: we should