Observations regarding Bishop Anthony B. Taylor homily during the annual Mass for Life 2018
If we could relive the Rally for the 2018 March for Life, this is how it might have gone. Bishop Taylor would begin with the following prayer:
bright dawn of the new world,
Mother of the living,
to you do we entrust the cause of life.
Look down, O Mother,
upon the vast numbers
of babies not allowed to be born,
of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women
who are victims of brutal violence,
of the elderly and the sick killed
by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love
to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace
to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it
resolutely, in order to build,
together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God,
the Creator and lover of life.”
— Given in Rome, at St. Peter Basilica, March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord,1995 by St. John Paul II
Participation in the rally offered a unique opportunity to witness to our faith. In this new version of the rally, Bishop Taylor would point out, as he did in the homily at the Mass for Life, “God gives Jonah the seemingly impossible task of calling an entire pagan city to conversion. Jonah believes this to be impossible and tries to get out of what the Lord is asking of him. But finally he gives in and goes through the city of Nineveh proclaiming God's word.”
Like Jonah, we too should witness to God’s word, ‘not get out of it’ just because someone doesn’t agree with us. We are called to love all our fellow men, even our enemies; to try to save then from the devil who strives to win over their souls.
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge may not see eye to eye with all of our beliefs, but she is a far cry from being our enemy. She has defended many of the same life issues we hold true. There’s only one enemy, the devil. He is trying to win over as many souls as possible for eternal damnation. We should be fighting to save them.
These statements could have been used to make our position clear at the rally: “The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” (St John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 1988, no. 38)
“It is true that it is not the task of the law to choose between points of view or to impose one rather than another. But the life of the child takes precedence over all opinions. One cannot invoke freedom of thought to destroy this life.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, Nov. 18, 1974, nos. 19-22)
“Among important issues involving the dignity of human life with which the Church is concerned, abortion necessarily plays a central role. Abortion, the direct killing of an innocent human being, is always gravely immoral (The Gospel of Life, no. 57); its victims are the most vulnerable and defenseless members of the human family. It is imperative that those who are called to serve the least among us give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice.” (Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: A Campaign in Support of Life, 2001, Introduction.)
“In Catholic teaching the state has the recourse to impose the death penalty upon criminals convicted of heinous crimes if this ultimate sanction is the only available means to protect society from a grave threat to human life. However, this right should not be exercised when other ways are available to punish criminals and to protect society that are more respectful of human life.” (USCCB, A Culture of Life and the Penalty of Death)
“The new evangelization calls for followers of Christ who are unconditionally pro-life: who will proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation. A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. . . . I renew the appeal I made . . . for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” (St. John Paul II Papal Mass, St. Louis, Missouri, January 27, 1999)
In so doing we would have captured the opportunity of witnessing to the Gospel of Life, ‘not get out of it’ as Jonah considered.
Dr. Fred de Miranda is a pediatrician in Fort Smith.
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