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Twenty-five years ago, Pope St. John Paul II wrote that the Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ saving message to the world (Evangelium vitae 1). In taking on human flesh, dwelling among us, and sacrificing his very life for our redemption, Christ reveals the profound dignity of every human person. This God-given dignity does not change with our stage of life, abilities, level of independence, or any other varying circumstance.
Rather, it is rooted in the permanent fact that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God, created to share in the very life of God himself. The human person is a “manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory” (EV 34). And we must reflect this truth in how we act and how we treat one another.
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The truth of the Gospel of life is at the foundation of who we are as followers of Christ. In his earthly life, Jesus provided the perfect model for how we are to love our neighbor and live out the Gospel call: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40).
Jesus calls each of us to “care for the other as a person for whom God has made us responsible” (EV 87). The Gospel of life is intrinsic to the whole Christian life and foundational to the decisions we make on a daily basis. For, “the Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel” (EV 2, emphasis added).
In his encyclical on the Gospel of life, Pope St. John Paul II recognizes the full range of threats against human life, from poverty and malnutrition to murder and war. He places particular emphasis, however, on threats to life at its beginning and end—precisely when it is most in need of protection. In modern times, children in their mothers’ wombs and those approaching the end of their lives are certainly among the “least of these” in our world’s estimation. Practices such as abortion and assisted suicide tragically reject the truth that human life is always to be cherished and defended with loving concern.
As the Church celebrates the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s prophetic encyclical, let us reflect on how we personally live out the Gospel: Do I talk about and act towards others as I would talk about and treat Jesus himself? Do I inform myself of the Church’s teachings and engage in the civic arena as first a follower of Christ? Do I support and advocate for laws and policies that protect and defend human life? Do I help pregnant and parenting mothers in need? Am I ready to support a loved one nearing death?
Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, may Our Lord grant us the grace to truly and courageously live his Gospel of life
Reprinted (excerpted) from Respect Life Program, copyright © [year of original publication], United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C. All rights reserved.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Every First Friday
8:30 AM – Eucharistic Adoration
11:00 AM – Respect Life Rosary & Divine Mercy Worship
12:00 Noon – Benediction
Every First Saturday
8:30 AM – Respect Life Rosary
God loves each human life from the instant of his or her conception and entrusts this gift to the protection of a mother and father. Abortion ends the life of a child and offends God. It also deeply wounds the women and men involved. (USCCB)
“This past January, I shared with Pope Francis that the bishops of the United States had been criticized by some for identifying the protection of the unborn as a preeminent priority. The Holy Father expressed his support for our efforts observing that if we fail to protect life, no other rights matter.”
Archbishop Naumann, Chairman
USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
In my patient’s opinion, she was well past child-rearing years. Yet she found herself pregnant. Previous talks about her consternation left me worried that she would seek to end her pregnancy. Now she had a question: “If I get an abortion, will you still be my doctor?”
I felt disappointed and stumped. If I said “yes,” would I be encouraging her? If she understood this as my “permission,” did that mean I was cooperating in the murder of her child?
This is serious business. Involvement with abortion at just about any level is not only a mortal sin — it is also automatic excommunication. If you’re excommunicated, you cannot participate in the life of the Church — including no sacraments, and not even a Church burial. Were I guilty of this kind of cooperation, I couldn’t just go to my parish priest in confession — I would need to go to the bishop or his designate, and get a special penance and absolution for the excommunication to be lifted.
I really wanted to say “no,” but would that have been failing in charity? At length I reiterated my stand against abortion, but said I would continue to care for her, regardless. She must have sensed my hesitation, because she ever came back.
It’s not always simple
When you cooperate with evil, you help make it happen. If it’s grave matter and you knowingly cooperate closely, you may have committed a mortal sin. Many people try to make participation in abortion seem inconsequential. It isn’t. Abortion takes the life of an innocent human being and the Church emphasizes the gravity of the sin with excommunication.
It can be hard for us to determine cooperation with evil. I deprive my patients of care if I resign from the staff of a remote hospital where they are going to do sterilizations. What to do? The one airline going where I need to get contributes to Planned Parenthood. Am I stuck? The only immunizations for some illnesses including rubella were originally sourced from aborted fetal tissue. Must I refuse protection for my child? Things are not always black or white and many situations may require pastoral advice.
So typically people aver they cooperated with abortion because of a complex situation. Yet, our bishops have given plenty of clear and simple guidance — there is little to validly mitigate cooperation. This particular excommunication is immediate and automatic — called latae sententiae, the old formula once used officially is worth reading. It is terrifying, yet leaves a hint of hope:
“WE DECLARE HIM EXCOMMUNICATE AND ANATHEMA; WE JUDGE HIM DAMNED, WITH THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS AND ALL THE REPROBATE, TO ETERNAL FIRE UNTIL HE SHALL RECOVER HIMSELF FROM THE TOILS OF THE DEVIL AND RETURN TO AMENDMENT AND TO PENITENCE.”
Catholics have been persecuted throughout our history. But in the United States, it’s always been at the hands of non-Catholic individuals or groups. We are now entering a different kind of persecution, coming from those who may be excommunicated Catholics working closely with an anti-Catholic government. They are now emboldened by large numbers of cooperating Catholics.
Expect these government people to continue their confusing pretense as believing Catholics, as they did prior to this Election Day. They may fool some, but God is not stupid. You shouldn’t be either.
Committed Catholics need to understand that taking human fertility out of God’s hands is the basis of the culture of death. Abortion, in-vitro fertilization, many divorces, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and even homosexual attempts at marriage are rooted in a mentality that accepts contraception and sterilization. A robust faith does not deny God access into any aspect of life. Benedicamus Domino.
In 2015, a series of undercover videos showed officials of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) discussing how they perform abortions and traffic in the tissues and organs of abortion victims. The officials’ matter-of-fact comments on destroying unborn human life, and on altering abortion methods to obtain more “intact” organs, led to a public debate on Planned Parenthood’s role as a “women’s health” organization receiving large government subsidies. That debate intensified in 2019
with release of the film Unplanned, based on a memoir of the same name by former Planned Parenthood clinic director Abby Johnson.
- PPFA is by far the largest abortion provider in the U.S.
- Every Planned Parenthood affiliate must perform abortions
- Planned Parenthood provides 25 times more abortions than birth-oriented services or referrals
- Planned Parenthood promotes risky RU-486 abortions that have killed young women
- Planned Parenthood fights even modest laws to reduce or regulate abortions
- Planned Parenthood doesn’t believe in a “right to choose” against abortion
- Planned Parenthood is not “pro-choice” for women
- Planned Parenthood’s role in serving women’s health is compromised at best, and is better taken over by others
- “Nonprofit” Planned Parenthood reaps enormous revenues, including tax revenues.
- Even as Planned Parenthood’s government funding has increased, the number of medical services it provides has decreased—but not abortions.
- Planned Parenthood promotes risky “emergency contraception” to minors
- Planned Parenthood has promoted abortions worldwide, even where it is illegal