Tonight we have come together to celebrate and to pray. We celebrate life, and we do so by celebrating and praying these Vespers together-the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church’s second most important form of prayer and public worship, eclipsed only by the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass itself. In doing so we pray for all the victims of the horror of abortion, for the women victimized by abortion and the industry of death that surrounds it. We pray for the fathers who have abandoned their children and the mothers of those children, and the fathers who had no say in whether their children lived or died, perhaps some of them may never have known they had a child…we pray for them as well tonight.
We pray especially for the roughly 3,600 unborn children whose names are known only to God, whose lives have been taken today in the United States, and for those who are taken each day. Worldwide, the World Health Organization has said that each day there are roughly 125,000 abortions around the world. In the United States, many of those babies whose names we do not know are people of color whose Mom came from the wrong side of town. That’s usually where they put the Planned Parenthood clinics and the other abortion mills, places where the routine and simplified slaughter of humanity takes place with the sanction of the government of the United States, in the places often deemed “the bad part of town,” among the poor, the people of color, the hurting. The solution of so many to our country’s social welfare and poverty crisis seems to involve killing the children of the poor.
Tonight we can celebrate the reality that some people are finally getting that message who perhaps had previously not gotten the message before. In my own lifetime, most reputable polling told us that the majority of Americans considered themselves “pro-choice” on the matter of abortion, in other words they favored legal abortion, seemingly with little restriction.Today, more Americans identify themselves as being pro-life, and favor much greater restrictions on abortion. We can celebrate that change in opinion this evening, it means that the many years that the pro-life movement spent simply trying to let it be known just what abortion really was-the taking of a human life, is finally having an impact-and that a great many of our fellow countrymen of all backgrounds agree with us in principle. Praise God for that…
But the changes in the data that tell us that people now identify as more pro-life than ever before, a reality that even the pro-abortion movement has acknowledged, have not translated into changes in our society, especially in the reality that abortion is a multi-billion dollar industry, and it is a multi-billion dollar industry because the pharmaceutical industry and others are using aborted fetal tissue in many vaccines, drugs, and so-called scientific research. In 2005 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pontifical Academy for Life released a study on the issue of vaccines derived from aborted fetal tissue. The secular media only reported the part they thought convenient, that the CDF said it was okay to use vaccines and other medications derived from research on or containing the tissue of aborted babies…except that wasn’t really what they said. What the CDF and the Pontifical Academy said was that Catholics have a moral obligation to choose treatments and immunizations that do not contain aborted fetal cells and baby parts whenever possible, and only if this isn’t at all possible can a Catholic in good conscience utilize medical options which might contain or utilize aborted fetal cells. The CDF was concerned enough that even that position might cause confusion, so in 2008, they released another little-known document called Dignitas Personae, or the Dignity of the Person. In that document, the Sacred Congregation made it clear that Catholic researchers have a duty to remove themselves from the use of that kind of biological material in order to “affirm with clarity the value of human life.” Dignitas Personae further reiterates that Catholics are obligated to make their objections known to the use of aborted fetal tissue and to ask for and seek other options when possible.
Why am I bringing this up? Because there are a lot of people who profit from abortion today aside from merely the abortionists. We are called to be a people of life, and we are called to advocate for the defenseless. As many Americans as now say they are pro-life, people need to be made aware that we will never be able to rid this country of abortions or the abortion industry, or even dramatically decrease the number of abortions, as some people on the other side of the argument claim they wish to do, until the demand for the use of the bodies of the unborn is also done away with. One of the things we have learned over the last couple of years is that Planned Parenthood and other similar agencies have engaged in the practice of selling the body parts of the unborn. As long as the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and other industries are using fetal parts and fetal cells in their research, development, and even in products there are going to be some very influential people in this country who publicly or privately do not want abortion to decrease or end. We will begin to see real change for life when Catholics, and all people of conscience begin to demand a halt to the use of the cells of aborted babies in research, development, and medicines, and deliberately seek alternatives.
Just in case anyone hasn’t noticed, it seems that there is an election on in our country. As I am sure is the case with many of you, this election year and election cycle is proving to be one of the most difficult that I can ever remember. If we ever needed a reminder that this country is often not run by people of the greatest character, I believe that this year has provided us with that reminder in spades. If you are a Catholic who cares about their faith, and how the worlds of faith and public life often intersect even when we try desperately to avoid that, this year will be a difficult one to go and cast your ballot. Both political parties have nominated candidates who are seriously flawed, and as many of our Bishops have pointed out, both candidates cause serious offense to Catholic teaching in one way or another. There is one issue, however, upon which the Church is very clear and many Bishops have spoken out with great clarity about in this election year, including our own. As Catholics, we must vote for the candidate who will cause the least harm and who will be the most likely to take action which will stem the tide of legal abortion in this country. Some of you may say that this means that abortion is more important than other important Catholic issues… And that is absolutely correct. Abortion is legalized murder…
This is an election year in which one of the candidates for the Vice Presidency of the United States is claiming to be a practicing Catholic, that candidate even says that one of the most influential things upon his life was his Catholic education. I’m terribly sorry that this experience did not apparently influence that candidate enough to take a stand in favor of the rights of the unborn. That candidate says that he is personally opposed to abortion, but is committed to keeping it legal because he can’t impose his religious beliefs on anyone else. If that candidate or anyone else has the mentality that they are personally opposed to abortion but they somehow don’t want to impose that on others, then why are they personally opposed to abortion? That’s a fair question… If those people with that mentality say that they are personally opposed to abortion, are they opposed to abortion because they understand that it is taking a human life? if that is their understanding, this speaks to the reality that they are seriously deficient in their understanding of morality, especially if they’re claiming to be Catholic. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas put it very well last week when he said that the Vice Presidential candidate is an orthodox member of his party, but he is a cafeteria Catholic. I’ll put it more bluntly, that candidate and many others like him running for public office will use the Catholic faith to promote certain ideas that they like which are fully in accord with Catholic social teaching, but they will ignore and discard those teachings they do not like in the name of political expediency, and they will do so declaring that they don’t want to force their beliefs on others.
I have a feeling that these candidates are indeed trying to force their beliefs on a great many of their fellow citizens. That Vice Presidential candidate’s running mate has made it clear that as President she wants to permanently solidify the so-called right to abortion, something to keep in mind as we discern our vote in the weeks ahead.
Yes, we have much to celebrate, because with the help of the Holy Spirit many minds have changed over the years and in Tennessee we have even passed the first step to greater legal protection of the unborn in Amendment 1. We have many to pray for including those who have been impacted by the tragedy of abortion, whoever they are and wherever they may be, and we have much to discern and remember as we consider the Electoral and public policy decisions which will determine whether the unborn are protected. As we prepare for the Magnificat, let us pray for a future where every mother has a joyful reaction to the coming of her child into the world the way that the Blessed Mother did. And I pray that my daughter and other little children like her might be able to grow up and live in a country where they cannot even imagine how it was possible to legally take the life of an unborn child.