October 7, 2016

Respect Life Sunday: ‘Be positive’ in the respect for life battle, transform hearts, says Msgr. Stumpf

Heidi Hughey of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower Parish) in Indianapolis, left, Andrea Fleck of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, and Alice and Jackie Hughey, also of Little Flower Parish, hold signs in front of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center during the Life Chain event in Indianapolis on Oct. 2. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Heidi Hughey of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (Little Flower Parish) in Indianapolis, left, Andrea Fleck of St. Roch Parish in Indianapolis, and Alice and Jackie Hughey, also of Little Flower Parish, hold signs in front of the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center during the Life Chain event in Indianapolis on Oct. 2. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

“How long O Lord I cry for help, and you will not hear? I cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ yet you do not save” (Hb 1:2).

These words in Habakkuk from the first reading on Oct. 2—Respect Life Sunday—seemed to continue to ring true that same day as Catholics and fellow Christians throughout central and southern Indiana and the United States lined streets as part of Life Chain events to peacefully, prayerfully raise awareness of the sin of abortion.

But in his homily during the archdiocesan Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, Msgr. William F. Stumpf, archdiocesan vicar general, called for Catholics to “be positive.”

(Related: See photos from this year's Life Chain event)

In reviewing a homily delivered by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Boston’s archbishop for the 2015 National Prayer Vigil for Life opening Mass, Msgr. Stumpf “found a powerful reminder for all of us when we are tempted to say, ‘How long O Lord?’ or ‘Why must I look at misery?’

“Cardinal O’Malley quotes Helen Alvaré, a pro-life worker, who often said to the bishops, ‘Be positive. We are not against anything, we are for something. We are for life.’ ”

Msgr. Stumpf cited several reasons for positivity in the respect for life battle.

He noted that the number of abortions in the United States has decreased by 12 percent in the last six years; that Gallup polls indicate that 58 percent of Americans are opposed to most or all abortion; and that those same polls and others show that “a majority of those who identify as pro-choice Americans actually favor informed consent for mothers, abortion bans in the third trimester, bans on partial-birth abortions, required parental consent for minors, 24-hour waiting periods and even abortion bans in the second trimester.”

Concrete reasons to be positive exist throughout the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as well, said Msgr. Stumpf.

“God’s work of transformation is happening daily … at Birthline. It is happening at the Women’s Care Center [in Indianapolis]. It is happening through the Gabriel Project. It is happening through the work of parish pro-life committees throughout the archdiocese, and through the healing of Project Rachel—just to name a few.”

Each individual is called to help in that transformation, he said. Catholics can look to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower” whose feast day was celebrated on Oct. 1, and her call to be love in the world.

“We too are called to be love,” he said. “And by doing so, we can help transform the culture of death into a culture of life.

“And as St. Thérèse discovered, it happens in small ways, and it most often happens through little encounters with others. …

“To be love is to see Christ in every one. Yes everyone: The poor who wait for a hot meal at the Cathedral Kitchen, the homeless who seek refuge at Holy Family Shelter, the young unwed mother who is terrified as she thinks of bringing a new life into the world, the immigrants from Syria and other war-torn parts of our world who are looking for a home, the lonely and often times forgotten men and women in our nursing homes, and prisoners facing execution on death row.”

Msgr. Stumpf noted that “to be love is to see Christ in every person we meet, and especially in those we find difficult to love. …

“But let us keep on trying—let us keep on trying to be love. For that, along with all we continue to do to promote a culture of life, can with God’s help transform the culture of death. For if we can see and meet Christ in everyone, then we are one step closer to creating a world where truly every life is treasured and every life is sacred.”

Three other reasons for positivity in the battle for respect for life sat in the front pews of the cathedral. They were Jim and Ann Recasner, winners of the 2016 Archbishop O’Meara Respect Life Award (see related story), and Camille Woods, winner of the 2016 Our Lady of Guadalupe Pro-Life Youth Award.†

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