Monday, January 21, 2008

35 Years of Roe v. Wade, 22 January 1973 -- 22 January 2008 Part II

While we must continue the struggle to defend the rights of the unborn, we must also engage the so-called “pro-choice” side with their issues. And several of these issues are not unreasonable – health care for pregnant mothers, child care for neglected, abandoned and abused children, protection for pregnant mothers who are in abusive relationships and the like. The strident call for privacy and freedom of “choice” to have an abortion really does miss the mark. But so does the violence of unchecked speech and attitude toward these people.

And, as the late Pope John Paul II and our current Holy Father, Benedict XVI, as well as the US Bishops have stated, we must cultivate a “Culture of Life” – in its entire spectrum. As Catholic Christians we must do so consistently lest we lose whatever credibility we may have.

These issues of life include the abolition of the death penalty, an end to military and government sanctioned torture of prisoners of war, peace-making in foreign affairs (please recall that the late Pope John Paul II condemned the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the US Bishops called upon our nation's Administration for military restraint), just and living wages for workers, justice for the elderly, adequate medical care for all people, and concern for the immigrant, whether legal or undocumented.

These are all part of what the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago called the “seamless garment” of pro-life issues. He was referring to the Lord Jesus’ garment mentioned in the Gospels that was gambled for at his crucifixion. First of all, the “seamless garment” is entirely consistent with the New Testament ethic we find in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5 & 6). It is also very much a Franciscan approach – to announce and bring the Good News of God’s reconciling love in Jesus Christ. To announce God's infinite mercy. By the way, Cardinal Bernardin was an honorary Franciscan friar.

I think that it is befitting on this anniversary to recall that a few years ago "Ms. Roe" underwent a powerful conversion experience to the Lord Jesus and subsequently became a fully initated and reconciled Catholic Christian woman in her home State of Texas.

So, after 35 years, we have work to do. While there is politicking on both sides of the issue, the real issue, it seems to me, is human life. In all its stages. Beginning in the womb.

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