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12/31/2012 9:42:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Proclaiming the Gospel of Life on the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
By Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl

As the numbers of youth traveling to Washington, D.C. for the annual March for Life continue to increase, so too do those attending the Youth Rally and Mass for Life hosted by the Archdiocese of Washington. In the past we have used both the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory to accommodate the growing crowds. This year we will use the Verizon Center and the Comcast Center simply because we keep outgrowing our space each year.

How appropriate it is, in this Year of Faith, that we should reflect on what awaits us as we enter through the "door of faith", what vision, wisdom and confidence we find in our faith and how it should impact our life. As Pope Benedict XVI stated in his apostolic letter introducing the Year of Faith, "The 'door of faith' is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace" (Porta Fidei, 1). Thus, to truly encounter the living God and to share in the joy of belonging to Christ's Church, we must open our hearts to be touched and transformed by grace. It is in this encounter that we discover "life and life in abundance" (Jn 10:10).

But it does not stop here. The timing of this Year of Faith in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision (January 22, 1973) confronts us with another fundamental aspect of our encounter with God and our ongoing life of faith - that it is meant to be shared and publicly proclaimed. What brings us to the Rally and Mass for Life is the recognition that we must bear witness to the truth.

This is not an anniversary we celebrate, it is an annual observance that invites somber reflection. How did we get here? How have we, as a nation, tolerated the destruction of 55 million lives at our own hands? What is the spiritual climate in our country that allows this culture of death to prevail?

Blessed John Paul II spoke these questions in his encyclical, the Gospel of Life, "When the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life" (21). The culture of death prevails when faith is lost and the light of God's word ceases to shine on our trials and sufferings, the challenges of the human condition, giving us perspective and hope.

Our witness to the value of life must be the voice that awakens our society to the emptiness of shortsighted measures that condone the widespread destruction of unborn human life. We must speak for the worth of all life - for the right to life.

In recent years, the U.S. bishops have stressed, as well, the need to protect another one of our most fundamental rights, the right to freedom of religion. The need to reassert this right has become evident in light of the increasing encroachment of a secular worldview that has manifested itself in the form of legislation, federal regulations and legal actions that challenge the free exercise of religious faith. Again, we ask ourselves how such circumstances can come to be in a nation founded on religious liberty. How has our society moved to a mindset where government leaders feel justified in redefining what constitutes a religious organization? How have so many come to view as acceptable reducing the practice of religious faith to what transpires within the four walls of a church? Do we not have some responsibility in this cultural shift?

Our faith cannot simply remain a private, personal act to be exercised only on Sunday; we are called to live it every day and have it permeate every sector of our lives. We are called to be confident in the truth of our faith so that we can be witnesses to the joy and hope of the Gospel, bear public testimony to the dignity of life and the preservation of the common good and help carry the burden of those who suffer.

This year I invite all, wherever you are, when we gather to bear witness to the basic fundamental human rights to life and religious freedom, to join those at the Rally and Mass for Life in solidarity - even if only spiritually - and celebrate the Year of Faith - also a year of life and religious freedom.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Daniel Hueckel

How have Catholics Voted the past 40 years? For the Party that supports Abortion. Our Vice-President is a prime example.

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