January 31, 2014

‘A voice for the voiceless’: Catholics called to build culture of life, archbishop says at Jan. 22 Mass

In this file photo, people stand in line to go to confession at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. From 6:30 p.m. to 8 pm. on April 2, priests will be available in churches across central and southern Indiana to celebrate the sacrament of penance with anyone who wishes to celebrate the sacrament and receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. (File photo by Sean Gallagher)

Ken Ogorek, archdiocesan director of catechesis, leads the praying of the rosary during a pro-life procession along Meridian Street in Indianapolis on Jan. 22 that followed a Mass in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral to commemorate the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion across the country. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

The group of Catholics processed while praying the rosary, snow crunching underfoot as the wind turned their faces a raw shade of red.

The scene played out in Terre Haute and Indianapolis as Catholics from central and southern Indiana endured sub-zero wind chills on Jan. 22 to march in solemn remembrance of the two Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion across the country 41 years ago.

Those decisions “have legalized the death of more than 55 million children, have damaged countless women and men, and have indelibly marked the history and character of our nation,” said Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin in a homily for the Mass celebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis to mark the anniversary. The Church in the U.S. now observes the date as the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. (Listen to his homily here | See a gallery of photos)

As the 12 concelebrants, two deacons and about 350 Catholics attending the Mass listened, Archbishop Tobin noted that “the struggle for a culture of life is not hurt most by those who hold views that are different than ours, values that are different than ours. They’re not the ones [who] have prolonged the effects of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton for 41 years. Those who have probably contributed most are those who say nothing at all.

“As Christians, we have an obligation to build a culture of life—in our actions as well as our words,” he said. “We are called to speak out against injustice rather than remaining silent. We are called to be a voice for the voiceless.”

Supporting this call to action, Archbishop Tobin quoted Pope Francis in a message the Holy Father sent to Catholics in Britain and Ireland last July as they prepared for their annual Day for Life.

In the message, said Archbishop Tobin, “[Pope Francis] stated that all life has inestimable value. Quoting him: ‘Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn, the poor, all are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.’ ”

The archbishop stressed that “we are not involved in a war on abortion or those who support that way of life. We are involved in constructing a culture of life.

“If we reduce our struggle to warfare, to violent words, to hateful thinking,” he cautioned, “then the coarsening has hardened our hearts.

“Jesus calls us to have a compassionate heart that sees with the eyes of love rather than with the eyes of judgment. We must extend a loving hand to those who find themselves in crisis pregnancies …

“On this anniversary, and every day, may we use our words, our actions and our prayers to build a culture of life.”

Archbishop Tobin expressed his joy at seeing so many young people at the Mass. Students from Lumen Christi Catholic School and St. Luke the Evangelist School, both in Indianapolis, high school students from Oldenburg Academy of the Immaculate Conception in Oldenburg and college students from Marian University in Indianapolis made up a good part of those who attended the Mass.

“We feel like we need to be there to reinforce that all life is precious and that prayer really does work,” said Jason Adams, headmaster of Lumen Christi. “We’re also walking in solidarity with those in [Washington] D.C., especially our own high schoolers, braving the elements there for the same cause.”

When Adams asked the students for their impressions, “A lot of comments were about how freezing cold it was, which is good in a way,” he commented. “Maybe there’s a little bit of a penitential element that needs to be there.”

Despite the “freezing cold”—the temperature was four degrees and the wind chill was below zero—about 250 of the people who attended the Mass took to the snow-crusted sidewalks of one of Indianapolis’s busiest streets for a prayerful procession after the Mass.

With a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, being carried by four participants in the walk leading the way, the group processed about a mile and a half, praying the rosary out loud and bearing life-affirming signs.

Jim Baily, left, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, Father John Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and sacramental minister of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute, and Blaine Akers, a member of Annunciation Parish in Brazil, hold pro-life signs during an hour of prayer in front of the Vigo County Court House in Terre Haute on Jan. 22 to peacefully mark the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that legalized abortion across the country. (Submitted photo by Tom McBroom)

Jim Baily, left, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Terre Haute, Father John Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and sacramental minister of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute, and Blaine Akers, a member of Annunciation Parish in Brazil, hold pro-life signs during an hour of prayer in front of the Vigo County Court House in Terre Haute on Jan. 22 to peacefully mark the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions that legalized abortion across the country. (Submitted photo by Tom McBroom)

In Terre Haute, 51 Catholics held signs and prayed for an hour in front of the Vigo County Court House.

“I was stoked because we had three priests at our pro-life event,” said coordinator Tom McBroom, referring to Conventual Franciscan Fathers Mark Weaver and John Bamman of St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute, and Father John Hollowell, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and sacramental minister of Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Terre Haute.

McBroom said the participants “witnessed heavy traffic and many positive acknowledgements.”

In Indianapolis, Oldenburg Academy senior Jessica Kline said she heard “a few good yells and a few bad yells. But overall, I heard more good than bad.”

Jessica’s schoolmate, freshman Elizabeth Miller, attended the Mass and procession for the first time.

“I thought it would be a good experience to come, and it was. I liked walking with everyone, supporting a common cause,” she said.

Some who worshipped at the Mass in Indianapolis stayed in the cathedral for prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament during the procession.

After the group processing returned to the Cathedral, Father Patrick Beidelman, executive director of the archdiocesan secretariat for Spiritual Life and Worship, led the congregation in a Benediction service before closing the solemn remembrance.

“It was a privilege to prayerfully observe the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade with Catholics from throughout the archdiocese,” said Rebecca Niemerg, director of the archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life and Family Life.

She expressed gratitude to all “who braved the cold and attended the local solemn observance.

“And thank you to all who joined in the archdiocesan observance from their homes, businesses and schools through their prayers and penances, so that every person created in God’s image and likeness may be protected and cherished from the moment of conception until natural death.” †

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