January 26, 2018

Editorial

When it comes to life, let us heed faith leaders’ words

Pope Francis and the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. may have represented different faith traditions, but both men shared a passion for the rights of all people.

And as Christians called to care for each of our brothers and sisters, we would do well to follow their lead.

Rev. King, who was a Baptist minister and leader of the American civil rights movement until he was killed in 1968, and Pope Francis, elected by the College of Cardinals to be the universal shepherd of the Church in 2013, are examples of Christians valuing all human life. Both are also examples of an unwavering advocacy and witness to their beliefs.

“Like the Rev. Martin Luther King, our prayers and witness are about ‘civil rights’—the right to life and to equal protection under the law, guaranteed by our constitution, for the most fragile, marginalized and threatened, the tiny innocent baby in the womb,” said

New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan during a homily at a Jan. 18 Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington that opened the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The annual March for Life followed the next day.

Rev. King “would be marching with us in the defense of unborn life were not the dignity of his own person and the sanctity of his own life tragically violated 50 years ago this spring,” Cardinal Dolan added, referring to the pastor’s assassination in Memphis, Tenn., on April 4, 1968.

In his 2013 apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis highlights the need to care for the least among us.

Archbishop Charles C. Thompson shared the Holy Father’s words in a homily during a Jan. 22 Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church in Indianapolis commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion on demand in the U.S.

“Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” #213), Archbishop Thompson said.

“Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems” (“Evangelii Gaudium,” #213).

Our faith implores us to continue to stay strong and not become discouraged as we work to convince many in society that all life—from the unborn to the elderly—is precious. Despite the obstacles presented in today’s ever-increasing secular society, it is paramount for us to remind others that each of us is made in our Creator’s image and likeness, and valued members of God’s family.

But our work should not end there. Citing Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago’s words spoken during a recent Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) gathering, Archbishop Thompson reminded the faithful that giving priority to the marginalized in society also includes caring for what Cardinal Cupich referred to as the “uns”—the unborn, unemployed, undocumented and uneducated.

“It is not just the ‘uns’ that need our witness but all of society, for a society is only as moral and stable as it treats its weakest members,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Such witness is needed not only for a day, but the whole of our lives.”

Our call to missionary discipleship is by no means easy. As Archbishop Thompson said, “… Our witness is one of proclaiming the goodness, beauty and truth of God within each and every culture by means of the divine image to be safeguarded and celebrated in every human being. Our witness of prayer, advocacy, dialogue, accompaniment and mercy is cultivating that culture of encounter that brings us together to realize how we share in that image, rather than being divided by our differences.”

May we use those “encounters” to spur conversations and plant seeds, that God willing, will protect society’s most vulnerable members and bear much fruit.

—Mike Krokos

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