January 30, 2015

‘The preciousness of unborn life’: Abortion reflects ‘blindness of heart,’ archbishop says at Roe anniversary Mass

Participants in the archdiocesan solemn observance of the legalization of abortion pray the rosary with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and signs along Meridian Street in Indianapolis during a pro-life procession on Jan. 22. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Participants in the archdiocesan solemn observance of the legalization of abortion pray the rosary with a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe and signs along Meridian Street in Indianapolis during a pro-life procession on Jan. 22. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

On Jan. 22, 1973, two Supreme Court decisions legalized abortion, an atrocity the continuation of which Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin attributes to “blindness of the heart.”

He spoke about this and more during the archdiocese’s Jan. 22 Mass of solemn observance of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions made 42 years ago.

The Mass was held at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, with between 300-350 pro-life advocates and students from various schools in central and southern Indiana in attendance. (Related: See a photo gallery from this event)

The Mass was followed by a march along parts of Meridian and Pennsylvania streets near the cathedral. During the march, participants prayed the rosary and carried signs with pro-life messages.

Other events in the archdiocese marked the observance as well, including a prayerful gathering near the courthouse in Terre Haute, and a rally held on Jan. 21 at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis.

In his homily on Jan. 22, the archbishop noted that the annual solemn observance is “an occasion when we remember the terrific blindness that would deny the protection of the law to little ones who can’t be seen, who can’t vote, who are powerless.

“That blindness would deny that these little ones are created in the image and likeness of God, would allow them to be killed.”

He mentioned St. John Paul II, whom the archbishop said “talked about a growing wave of violence that is coming across this Earth because of the blindness of the heart.” The former pope addressed the threat in his encyclical, “The Gospel of Life.”

Archbishop Tobin also called upon the words of Pope Francis, whom he said “reminds us of the blindness of heart when he talks about the absolute opposition of the Catholic Church to abortion.

“In [Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation] ‘The Joy of the Gospel,’ he said that ‘the Catholic Church’s belief in the preciousness of unborn life is not going to change.’

“But he says on the other hand, ‘It’s true that we have done as a Church across the world little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears to be a quick solution to their profound anguish … . Who can be unmoved before such painful situations?’ ”

Archbishop Tobin had an answer to the pope’s question: “Those who do not see the pain, for there are none so blind as those who will not see.”

The archbishop gave thanks for groups and events in the archdiocese that promote life, including the Gabriel Project, Disciples for Life, the Women’s Care Center and Birthline.

Prior to the start of Mass, the archbishop blessed more than 2,000 rosaries collected for Birthline by Michael Isakson, a member of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis, for an Eagle Scout project. The rosaries will be available at Birthline, an archdiocesan ministry for mothers needing help caring for their infants.

The night prior to the solemn observance, the archdiocesan offices of Youth Ministry and Pro Life and Family Life held a prayer rally for youth, young adults and families called “Disciples for Life” at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis.

The event, which included between 450-500 participants from the archdiocese and the neighboring Diocese of Lafayette, was held instead of a trip to the March for Life in Washington usually coordinated by the archdiocesan Office of Youth Ministry.

Scott Williams, program coordinator for the office, explained the change.

“A lot of the parishes and deaneries started to make the trip, so we couldn’t fill a bus to go,” he said. “Disciples for Life was an opportunity to offer something high energy to youths and anyone who wants a service in the evening to honor pro-life.”

The event included music by Steve Angrisano, prayer, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction and a talk by Father Rick Nagel, pastor of the parish and Catholic campus minister for Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

“It was a nice, high energy, prayerful evening,” said Williams. “I think it’s going to be a good thing to keep doing.”

About 30 pro-life advocates in Terre Haute recognized the solemn observance on Jan. 22 with signs and a prayerful gathering around the Vigo County Courthouse and the Planned Parenthood facility across the street.

“You do not know the influence that you have on the people merely driving by,” said coordinator Tom McBroom. “Even a small group can be a major game-changer. One can never put a number or ranking on being an ambassador for Jesus Christ and an ambassador for life.”

From those participating in the March for Life in Washington, to those recognizing the solemn observance throughout the archdiocese, “We join today in repenting from our own blindness,” said Archbishop Tobin.

“[That] blindness has been the history of our country, not simply beginning on Jan. 22, 1973, but a blindness that has manifested itself in slavery, in the persecution of immigrants, and hatred or suspicion of people who are different. …

“We ask the Lord today together for the strength to do all we can to create a culture of life, a culture of gratitude, a culture of peace.” †

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