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Roe V. Wade Anniversary… Marching Towards Life And Victory Over Death

January 31, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

(Editor’s Note: Below are excerpts from homilies and statements by members of the clergy marking this forty-fifth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.)

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From Fr. Frank Pavone’s homily at the National Prayer Service on January 19, 2018 in Washington, D.C., as posted at LifeSiteNews:

We’re not just marching in defense of life, we are marching towards life. . . .
Our starting point in this movement is the victory over death that Jesus Christ has already won. We would not be here, we would not be the Church, we would not be the Body of Christ, and we would not be the Pro-Life Movement, if it were not true that He came out of His own tomb, having suffered death, having joined Himself to our death. He rose, and in doing so did not only conquer His death, He conquered all death. He overturned the kingdom of death. He robbed death of its power. He conquered your death and mine. He conquered the death of every unborn child killed by abortion . . . He has conquered. Death is overcome. . . .
Some people think that the human story is birth, life, and death. We proclaim differently here today. The human story is life, death, and resurrection. The grave cannot hold us. We were created for the heavens. We were created to be on the throne with Christ. The grave cannot hold us. It is not the place that God has destined us to. It is not our destination, of our march during life. . . . No. It is the throne of the fullness of life. . . .
And so we come here in this city, the same city to which the Civil Rights marchers came under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and remember what he said.
[King] said, “We come here to cash a check. This nation has said on paper that all are created equal. That we all have God-given rights, and that this government exists to secure those rights.” He said, “So we’ve come here to cash a check today because the tragedy, the evil we face, is that in regard to our African-American brothers and sisters, we’ve been given a returned check marked ‘Insufficient Funds’.” And he said, “We refuse to believe that, that the vaults of justice and equality and protection in America aren’t full enough, aren’t rich enough to include us.”
So they marched to cash a check. To say to America, “Be true to what you said on paper. Give us that recognition of our dignity and equality.”
My friends, guess what we are here to do today. We are here to march, and we are demanding a check for the unborn that does no longer say “Insufficient Funds,” that no longer says, “We don’t have the ability to protect you. There’s not room in America to recognize you as persons.” We demand to cash in on the check promised in our Declaration of Independence that, yes, the unborn children, too, are equal in dignity, and their God-given rights must be protected and respected.
Now we had this prayer service so many years under a presidential administration that did not recognize that. I started going to this service and helping to lead it back in the day when in the White House sat a man named Bill Clinton. And he kept sending punk checks marked “Insufficient Funds” to the unborn children during those eight years. And then a man named Barack Obama sat in that Office, and the message continued to be, “Insufficient Funds.” But I heard about an election in 2016. [Cheers, applause.] I heard something about an inauguration in 2017. [Cheers, applause.] I heard something about a man named Donald Trump who’s now in the White House. [Cheers, applause.] And we’re all going to hear him speak today, himself, for the unborn children. [Cheers, applause.]. . . .
You realize, we’re in a moment now when our nation is beginning to wake up to the reality of late-term abortion. The actions — the president may mention it today, but the actions of the Congress right now are focused in a particular way at protecting babies in those last stages, not because they’re abandoning the effort to protect them earlier, but because they’re implementing that effort. . . .
We come today to cast a light in this darkness. We come to Washington today to cash a check for these babies. We will hear from a president today who is quite aware of this tragedy. He has no magic wand. He has his role to play. We have our role to play. We will not cease until these babies are protected. And we, furthermore, have every hope that those on the wrong side can see His light that we are shedding. And that is why in this service we also recall that the woman who was the Jane Roe of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Norma McCorvey, whom many of us here knew and ministered to personally, she, Jane Roe, who definitely won that case, became pro-life, rejected the case she won, became a Christian.
I had the privilege of receiving her into the Catholic Church in 1998. She spent the rest of her life working to end abortion, and she herself has been present at this service, and we are happy this morning, at various years at the March for Life and given witness for life. Norma McCorvey, who died last February, and who shows us all what happens when we’re willing to courageously take those steps that God indicates to us. The right steps. The just steps. The steps that lead to Him.

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From the homily delivered by Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York at the Mass of the Vigil for Life at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, January 18:

Pastor [Martin Luther] King would often begin his stirring speeches, which still move us, by asking his listeners, “Why are we here?”
So do I pose that question to you: Just why are we here? Can I anticipate your responses?
We are here to advocate and give witness, to advocate for those who cannot yet speak or walk with us, the preborn baby, whose future is in jeopardy and can be ended by a so-called choice by another; to give witness that millions, mostly young people, share their passion that the baby has civil rights.
We are here to fight the heavy temptation to discouragement. See, as noble as our cause is, we are ridiculed, dismissed, harassed, and even persecuted, snickered at by the majority of the media, considered unwashed by most of the academia and Hollywood, and ignored and criticized by most in one of the two political parties.
In my state, abortion is legal up to the moment of birth, can be paid for by our tax money, those whose conscience will not allow them to do this can lose their job, those who wish to present a creative alternative are threatened with closure. What a paradox and heavenly sign that the Sisters of Life were founded in such a pro-abortion state! That’s why we come from New York brothers and sisters, because we’re lonely and need encouragement.
And, yes, a third reason we come every year is to lobby for life. Our elected representatives, executive and legislative, and the judiciary they appoint, need to see, hear, and feel the grassroots power and sincere voices of millions who lack the cash of the abortion industry, who can’t find many in Hollywood to support them, who can’t get a hearing on campus, and who are told not to run for office in some states, that we will not give up, that reason and the grand American tradition enshrined in our foundational documents are on our side, and that our love for babies, their struggling moms and dads, and our passion for a society to assist and protect all vulnerable life will keep us at it, because, to borrow my brother pastor’s refrain, “We shall overcome!”
Yet there is one more reason why we are here: to pray! To turn to Jesus, once alive in His own Mother’s womb, who, as St. Paul teaches us this very evening, “Delivered us from the power of darkness. . . .”
“The power of darkness. . . .”
Oh-oh! The forces we face are not just those we can see; I’m afraid we battle as well an axis we cannot see, whose powers are stronger than any in creation save one, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who called Himself “the way, the truth, and the life.”
So we come to a safe place to commence our project, a home the powers of darkness are scared of, a house where Mary is our Mother and where Jesus dwells, and where we are with family. We come to admit realistically that there are powers of darkness in a culture Pope Francis calls “throwaway” and St. John Paul terms “of death.”
As Pope Francis often reminds us, we are fools if we dismiss the power of Satan. So, you bet we are here to advocate, to be encouraged, to lobby…but we are here, not as warriors but as apostles of life, apostles armed not with money, hate, or destructive words, but, as the Holy Father exhorts, with love and joy. Apostles of life who, like those first Twelve, believe in the power of Jesus, and who saw, as recorded in this evening’s Gospel, “Unclean spirits fall down before Him and shout, ‘You are the Son of God’.”
Let us give thanks to the Father . . . who delivered us from the power of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son.

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Statement from Bishop Paul J. Swain, Sioux Falls, S.D.:

Today we come together to pray on the 45th anniversary of the decision by the United States Supreme Court to sanction abortion basically at any time and for basically any reason. It is a flawed sense of freedom. St. John Paul II taught us that true freedom is the not the right to do whatever we want according to our whim or convenience but the right to do what we ought to do according to God’s law. God’s law is respect for all human life from conception through natural death. God’s law is that He is the determiner of life and its length. God’s law is above that of nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Sadly it is estimated that since this tragic court decision over 60 million little ones have been denied their right to life, their opportunity to share their gifts with us, their dignity to become who God created them to be.

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From the January 21 column of Fr. John L. Ubel, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minn., published in the cathedral’s bulletin:

German Astronomer Johannes Kepler could not possibly have imagined that a phrase he coined would in fact be used in significant legal opinions centuries after his death, and in a controversial way at that. He introduced the term penumbra in AD 1604 to describe the shadows that occur during eclipses, deriving from paene (almost) and umbra (shadow). Its literal meaning in the Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is: “a space of illumination between the perfect shadow…on all sides and the full light.”
Both the Moon and the Earth cast shadows into space as they block the sunlight that hits them. So, the penumbra represents a half-shadow that occurs when the Moon obscures part of the Sun’s disk. One might say that it is the “lighter” shadow just beyond the darker shadow. Justice Harry Blackmun used the term penumbra in describing the “right of privacy” in his majority opinion in Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973).
Its first use in legal circles was in 1871 when a court had to decide who owned a certain property in San Francisco. The dispute arose because the one to whom the land was granted had disappeared a few days before the issuance of the deed, never to be seen again. After seven years, the man’s father claimed the property as the rightful heir, but it needed to be shown that the man was alive at the time the deed was delivered. Thus, penumbra was used in dealing with a case of a man presumed to be dead, and whether or not the land deeded to him was valid. The status of the individual in question hovered somewhere between life and death, the penumbra of life.
Blackmun employed the term in 1973 to argue the existence of a right to privacy. The Roe decision itself acknowledges: “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution.”
The key sentence of the decision soon followed: “We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation” (410 U.S. 113 (1973), section VIII, 154).
His argument was that while the U.S. Constitution does not explicitly state a right to privacy, it may be inferred from the penumbra of implied rights found therein. In an eerie way, penumbra seems appropriate, even though employed to the wrong end. The “right of privacy” has taken on new meaning, gained new strength, and has produced new implications in a host of other arenas of morality. And they are most assuredly murky, cloudy, and ill-defined.
Most people would say unequivocally that the Constitution guarantees a “right to privacy” and would likely be surprised at Blackmun’s own words acknowledging its explicit absence in the founding documents of our nation.
Of course, we could also look to the preamble of the Declaration of Independence and its explicit mention of “certain unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” How is that reconciled with Roe v. Wade?
The Church must remain steadfast in her opposition to legal abortion, and I urge our faithful laity to educate themselves on the scientific facts about fetal development and the truths uncovered by means of the emergence of fetology. It is not about privacy, it is about the intrinsic dignity of each and every human life. The facts are neither shadowy, nor do they lurk in the background. They are there for all to see, if people simply move beyond the convenient rhetoric and observe the facts. Fetology did not exist in 1973, the year the Roe decision was rendered.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson (died in 2011) was once the owner of the largest abortion clinic in New York, before the cold, hard facts convinced him that he was taking innocent human life. Prior to ultrasound imaging and electronic fetal heart monitoring, the belief “that the fetus was a human being with unique personal qualities” could be only an “article of faith.” Science changed his mind. Well before 12 weeks of gestation, Nathanson realized, “the fetus is a fully formed, absolutely identifiable human person . . . indistinguishable from any of us . . . in form or substance.”
For many years I have worn the “Precious Feet” pin on the lapel of my suit coats, clearly depicting the actual size of an unborn child’s feet at just ten weeks gestation. When people ask, “What is that pin for?” I consider it an open invitation to evangelize about the reality of human development, witnessing to the precious gift of life.

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