This edition of Life Issues Forum is available in English and Spanish, and has also been posted to our website.
The Life Issues Forum is a bi-weekly column by Pro-Life Secretariat staff addressing the latest issues on the culture of life. Columns may be reprinted as they appear here (in full and without alteration) without further permission.
The Pro-Life Secretariat
LIFE ISSUES FORUM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Women & Men: Working Together for Life February 10, 2017
By Mary McClusky
A recent "traffic light moment" reminded me of a few important truths about our efforts to end abortion.
I was sitting in my car at a red light early one Saturday morning, just after the Women's March and the March for Life both took place in Washington, D.C. I was pleased to see a man in the car ahead of me pass a Styrofoam cup of steaming coffee out his window to a man in the street asking for help. Then I was doubly pleased to see two "Hope After Abortion" magnets on his car--one in English, one in Spanish--featuring the national toll-free helpline to diocesan post-abortion healing ministries. This charitable man was pro-life and advertising Project Rachel Ministry!
I wished all the women at the Women's March who had shouted, "My body, my choice" could see this fellow. So often, abortion is seen as exclusively a women's issue. While it impacts women in an often deeply painful and unique way, it is important to remember that abortion is a human rights issue. Abortion causes the loss of a child who has both a mother and a father, grandparents, and perhaps siblings who may grieve for that child. And abortion may be chosen because a woman feels that she has no other choice due to lack of support from the father of the child or those around her.
Recall God's creation of each of us "in His image" (Gen 1:27). This doesn't mean we look like Jesus, or that God looks like Charlton Heston. The phrase refers to how every human being is made to be in loving relationship with others. Human love mirrors the Divine Trinity as a community of love.
At a recent bioethics workshop, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, encouraged an "alliance between the sexes" as "the most effective response to ideologies of separation or indifference. The alliance of masculine and feminine must again take hold of the tiller of history, of statecraft, of the economy."
He hit the nail on the head. Division and apathy should no longer dominate the conversation about abortion. Identifying ourselves first as members of the human family allows us to work together better as women and men, as friends, spouses, or members of communities to welcome children in danger of abortion. When we focus on mutual cooperation and support, we build healthier families and communities that welcome unborn children and help expectant mothers in need of assistance. These stronger communities are also better equipped to serve all those in need--as exemplified by the generous man I saw at the red light.
Where do we see this image of God working in our culture to increase respect for life? When men, women, and families participate in the March for Life together. When parishioners cooperate to assist an expectant single mother. When youth groups sponsor fundraising drives for pregnancy care centers--just to name a few!
God designed each of us, male and female, to do this thing called life together. Individualism and isolation weaken families and communities. When do we see a culture that cherishes each person, made in God's image? We see it when women and men work together as members of families and communities to end abortion, heal wounds, and welcome human life.
Mary McClusky is Assistant Director for Project Rachel Ministry Development at the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For confidential help after abortion, visit www.hopeafterabortion.com or www.esperanzaposaborto.com.
Bishop Vasquez stands against executive order
January 31, 2017
AUSTIN, Texas – Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of the Diocese of Austin issued the following statement on Jan. 30, 2017, regarding President Trump’s Executive Order “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”:
I strongly disagree with the executive order on refugee resettlement. Today, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, there is an urgent need for U.S. leadership to assist refugees and provide freedom from persecution. The U.S. has long provided leadership in resettling refugees.
It is important for us to assist all who are vulnerable and fleeing persecution, regardless of their religious belief. They, too, are children of God and are entitled to be treated with human dignity. By helping to resettle the most vulnerable, we are living out our Christian faith as Jesus challenged us to do because by serving the least among us, we serve Jesus himself.
People of goodwill, especially those in government leadership, should ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or values as Americans. As I travel the Diocese of Austin, I have met many parishioners who tell me they are refugees or children of refugees who left their country fleeing violence and persecution. They now consider Central Texas their home – a place of solace and security.
I invite all people of Central Texas to join me in praying and working for the common good and the sacred human dignity of every person.
Bishop Vásquez serves as the current chair of the Committee on Migration for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin includes 126 parishes, or faith communities, in 25 counties in Central Texas.
Cardinal Dolan Calls for Renewed Fight Against Doctor-Assisted Suicide
November 21, 2016
WASHINGTON--The Washington, DC, City Council and the voters of Colorado both recently acted to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called for increased efforts to fight against assisted suicide, saying it must be "opposed with renewed vigor."
Cardinal Dolan's full statement follows.
A statement from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York
Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities
Seven jurisdictions in the United States have now opened the legal door to this dangerous abuse of medicine, an alarming trend that must be stopped for the sake of human dignity and the sacredness of life.
In Colorado, Proposition 106 legalized the ability of a doctor to write prescriptions for the sole purpose of killing another human being, and the ability of insurance companies to refuse treatment of patients they consider terminal. The DC law is the most expansive and dangerous so far. It goes beyond assisted suicide by allowing third parties to administer the lethal drugs opening the door even further to coercion and abuse.
Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good. We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.
The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine. Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.
What seriously ill - and often depressed -- patients need is authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days. Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden -- that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.
So doctor-assisted suicide must now be opposed with renewed vigor. Catholics must join medical professionals, disability rights groups, and other concerned citizens in fighting for the authentic care of those facing terminal illness.
In 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide, "To Live Each Day with Dignity." The full text, as well as information on the Catholic Church's advocacy on end-of-life issues, is available online: www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/assisted-suicide/to-live-each-day.
Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, pro-life, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, assisted suicide, doctor-assisted suicide, euthanasia, Washington DC, Colorado
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Chairman
USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
My dear friends in Christ:
This summer, I traveled to Poland for World Youth Day, where millions of young Catholics gathered. A theme chosen by Pope Francis that I addressed in a talk I gave to young people was, "Now is the time for mercy." It's timely, isn't it? Yet, as in a story I shared about Pope Saint John Paul II, it's also timeless.
For years, Poland had been oppressed, with no freedom of religion. Human rights had been trampled, and the sacredness of human life violated. Then Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 with a message that changed the world.
He spoke about God, about faith, about human dignity, truth, and the sacredness of human life. He spoke about Jesus and the Church. And what do you think happened? Over a million people responded, chanting over and over, "We want God! We want God!" Mikhail Gorbachev said it was Pope John Paul II's nine-day visit that led to the fall of communism.
After my talk concluded, history repeated itself. Youth from all over the world chanted, "We want God! We want God!" The Lord was moving hearts with his mercy.
God offers his gift of mercy to each and every one of us, no matter what. But we have to decide to receive that gift—whether or not to turn away from sin and turn, instead, toward him. We have to decide whether we want God.
The theme of the 2016-17 Respect Life Program is "Moved by Mercy" (usccb.org/respectlife). When we let our hearts be moved by God's mercy, it shapes everything. As Pope Francis said, "We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us" (Misericordiae Vultus. . . ).
God made each of us in his own image and likeness. He desires to be united with us forever in a loving relationship. God loves us, treats us with respect, and asks us to do the same with others. Every person is sacred and must be treated with the dignity they deserve. No one should ever be treated callously or carelessly—everyone should be cherished and protected!
From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection. Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the margins of society by a "throwaway culture," expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, and every other person—each "has a place in God's heart from all eternity" (Amoris Laetitia. . . , 168).
Let's ask God to make us channels of his loving mercy: Lord, help us to receive your mercy and turn to you each moment. And please guide us in extending your mercy to others today. Now is the time for mercy.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Timothy Cardinal Dolan
USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities
At its June 2016 meeting, the American Medical Association's House of Delegates adopted a resolution to consider changing the AMA's decades-long position against doctor-prescribed suicide to one of "neutrality." The AMA's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs will study this proposed change and provide a recommendation to the House of Delegates at its June 2017 meeting. Opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide by national and state medical associations has been critical to preserving laws against the practice. Therefore, it is very important that physicians in particular, but also other individuals and organizations, urge the AMA to maintain its opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide and euthanasia.
Attached is an action alert with talking points that I ask you to disseminate to any physicians you know who would oppose the AMA adopting "neutrality" on doctor-prescribed suicide, and to your grassroots in general. I would also be grateful if you would share with my office any information from physicians or others in your state that might be helpful in this effort to urge the AMA to maintain its opposition to doctor-prescribed suicide.
Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Statement in response to Catholics for Choice campaig
On Monday, full-page advertisements ran in the San Antonio Express-News, the Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Morning News from a Washington D.C.-based entity called Catholics for Choice.
Despite what is implied by its name, Catholics for Choice is not a member-oriented organization and has no affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. Instead, it is financed by grants from a few secular organizations pushing a pro-abortion agenda. It seldom ventures beyond Washington to Texas, unless it is to buy expensive, full-page ads when it serves their pro-abortion agenda.
It is not clear why Catholics for Choice chose a handful of individuals identifying themselves as Catholics as ambassadors for the false premise that refusal to pay for someone’s abortion is an assault on anyone’s God-given dignity. The only assault on dignity in this discussion is the abortion, which ends one life and irrevocably diminishes countless other lives.
The misguided campaign of the so-called “Catholics for Choice” organization misrepresents the moral guidance of our Church. The Bishops of the United States, in accord with our Holy Father, Pope Francis, have been unequivocal in proclaiming the dignity of unborn human life. Millions of Catholics in Texas actively live out this teaching in our pro-life ministries and advocacy.
Nor is it clear why this small activist group insists on describing itself as “Catholic” when it apparently declines to embrace and live the principles of the Catholic faith. Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Catholics, by definition, are in accord with the essential teachings of the Church and embrace the faith that has been handed down to us through Jesus Christ and the apostles. Someone cannot call themselves a Catholic, yet reject the sanctity of life by active support of abortion.
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USCCB Urges HHS to Reach Amicable Resolution in
Little Sisters of the Poor Case
September 9, 2016
WASHINGTON-On September 9, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) filed comments with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) objecting to mandated involvement in coverage of abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization, on pain of crushing fines. The comments responded to HHS's request for information on how best to accommodate stakeholders with religious objections to such coverage, while assuring that people with no religious objection can still obtain it.
On May 16, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell and related cases challenging the HHS mandate. The mandate requires health plans to cover contraceptives - including abortifacient contraceptives- and sterilization procedures. Religious nonprofit organizations engaged in charitable ministry are not exempt from the mandate. In a set of cases involving a number of religious organizations, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court decisions and sent those cases back to the lower courts so that the parties would have an opportunity to reach an amicable resolution.
"This latest round of rulemaking," the USCCB's Office of General Counsel wrote, "presents an opportunity for the Administration to achieve its asserted interest ... and, at the same time, bring to an amicable end an unprecedented and protracted dispute with the religious community."
The petitioners in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell have themselves "spelled out with particular clarity how the Administration can achieve its stated policy goals without forcing those with sincerely held religious objections to assist." For this to happen, any government-mandated contraceptive coverage must be "truly independent of petitioners and their plans-i.e., provided through a separate policy, with a separate enrollment process, a separate insurance card, and a separate payment source, and offered to individuals through a separate communication."
"For this system to work, however, it must be the case that no further involvement of objecting employers is required." In addition, to protect the conscience rights of individuals who themselves may have religious objections to contraception and sterilization coverage, enrollment in such coverage "must not be automatic."
The full text of the comment letter is available at: www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/HHS-Comments-on-Coverage-for-Contraceptive-Services-Sept-16.pdf.
Keywords: USCCB, U.S. bishops, pro-life, Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, contraception, sterilization, contraceptive mandate, Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, health care, health insurance, religious liberty, religious freedom, conscience rights
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
NIH PROPOSES TAXPAYER-FUNDED RESEARCH ON ANIMAL-HUMAN CHIMERAS
PUBLIC COMMENTS NEEDED
Your help is needed to defend the dignity of human life and there is a limited time to act. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), a federally-funded medical research agency, is soliciting comments from the public through Tuesday, September 6, 2016 on an important life issue, the creation of human-animal chimeras. Comments must be submitted before midnight (Eastern) on September 6. Please read the directions below carefully to submit comments online or by mail.
On August 4, 2016 the NIH announced that it plans to lift its moratorium on funding research that involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos thus creating part-human and part-animal organisms known as chimeras. This means that, for the first time, the Federal government will begin spending taxpayer dollars on the creation and manipulation of new beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals.
This research is ethically problematic for several reasons: 1) It relies on the killing of humans at the embryonic stage to harvest their stem cells; 2) It involves the production of animals that could have partly or substantially human brains; 3) It involves the production of animals that could have human sperm or eggs (with a stipulation that precautions are taken so such animals are not allowed to breed); 4) It allows the introduction of human embryonic stem cells into animal embryos early in their development such that it may be very difficult to know the extent to which human cells contribute to the final organism. Consequently, researchers won't know what their moral obligations may be toward that being. Tragically, the NIH has apparently given little, if any, consideration to these or any other ethical concerns with regard to this research.
Recommended actions to take immediately:
- Submit your comments today using the NIH online comment form with the following steps:
- Copy the suggested message below to your clipboard and paste it into the first large box on the NIH form. To copy, please move your mouse cursor to the first letter of the message; in this case the letter "I". Once there, click your left mouse button and hold while dragging the mouse down the page until you get to the end of the message then release your left mouse button. Now that the message text has been highlighted, you may hold down your left CTRL Key and press the letter "C" to copy.
- You may then go to the NIH form (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/rfi/rfi.cfm?ID=57) and click your left mouse button inside the first large blank text box where you will see your cursor blinking. You may then hold your left CTRL button once again then click the letter "V" to paste the message in the box. For those that are on a Apple (Mac) computer, follow the same instructions as above but use the command key instead of the CTRL button for both the copy and paste functions.
- Once you have pasted the message into the first large text box, please enter your name in the first box and then scroll down the form page, skipping over all other blank boxes, until you get to the bottom of the page and see the red text asking you to insert a code number for security purposes. Please enter the code that is showing next to the box and once done, you can scroll down a little farther and click the SUBMIT button. You do not need to fill in the Name or Type of Organization or Function areas of the form.
- Comments may also be submitted by mail. Even if you have submitted electronic comments, you can download and print and mail the .pdf of the letter prepared for your use. Click here to print the letter.
Please print the letter, sign and date it, and mail immediately to:
Office of Science Policy
The National Institutes of Health
6705 Rockledge Drive, Suite 750
Bethesda, MD 20892
- Share this alert by Facebook, Twitter or email.
- REMEMBER COMMENTS MUST BE RECEIVED BY MIDNIGHT (EDT) TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6. IF SUBMITTING BY MAIL, PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY.
I object strongly to the NIH's proposal to rescind its moratorium on funding of research involving human-animal chimeras. I do not want my tax dollars being used for grossly unethical research involving the creation and manipulation of part-human, part-animal beings whose very existence blurs the line between humans and non-human animals. This proposed research raises all the ethical problems of human embryonic stem cell research in general and serious additional problems related to the creation of human-animal beings with partly or substantially human brains and/or human gametes.
I also object strongly to the NIH's apparent lack of consideration for the ethical issues implicated by this research. Indeed, the NIH pledged to "undertake a deliberative process to evaluate the state of the science in this area, the ethical issues that should be considered, and the relevant animal welfare concerns associated with these types of studies" when the moratorium was put in place in 2015. Yet, to date there is no evidence of any discussion of the ethical issues involved in creating partly human animals.
I strongly urge you to maintain the current moratorium on funding research involving the creation and manipulation of human-animal chimeras.
Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori Commend House Passage, Call on Congress to Enact the Conscience Protection Bill
July 13, 2016
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan and Archbishop William E. Lori – as chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, respectively – commended the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the Conscience Protection Act of 2016 (S. 304) on July 13 in a 245-182 bipartisan vote.
"We're grateful to House Speaker Paul Ryan for bringing the Conscience Protection Act to a vote, to all the co-sponsors for their leadership, and to those members of both parties who support the civil right of conscience," Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori said. "Even those who disagree on the life issue should be able to respect the conscience rights of those who wish not to be involved in supporting abortion."
If enacted into law, the Conscience Protection Act "will ensure that those providing much-needed health care and health coverage can continue to do so without being forced to help destroy innocent unborn children," they wrote. "It will also provide an effective remedy to victims of abortion coercion."
"The vast majority of medical personnel – and 85% of OB-GYNs, specifically – do not want to be involved in abortion. Whether their reasons are religious or non-religious, their conscientious objection to abortion is worthy of the highest respect and protection," they said.
The Conscience Protection Act offers much-needed protection for religious employers, as well. "In light of disturbing recent developments, even churches and religious organizations are being required to cover abortions in violation of their beliefs," they said.
"We now urge Congress to move this vital legislation forward as part of this year's must-pass appropriations package," Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori said.
For more on the bishops' promotion of conscience rights, including a video about a nurse who was coerced to take part in a late-term abortion, visit: www.usccb.org/conscience.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop William E. Lori, Catholic bishops, health care, discrimination, pro-life, abortion, conscience rights, conscience protection, #NoAbortionCoercion, Conscience Protection Act of 2016, S. 304, Congress, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
Bishops' Pro-Life Spokeswoman Laments High Court Decision Rejecting Abortion Clinic Safety Law
June 27, 2016
WASHINGTON--On June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-3 ruling in the abortion facility medical standards case, Woman's Whole Health v. Hellerstedt. Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, reacted to the loss.
"The Court has rejected a common-sense law protecting women from abortion facilities that put profits above patient safety," McQuade said. "The law simply required abortion facilities to meet the same health and safety standards as other ambulatory surgical centers - standards like adequate staffing, soap dispensers, and basic sanitary conditions. It required abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, and that hallways be wide enough to allow emergency personnel through with stretchers, should a life-threatening emergency arise."
"Abortion claims the lives of unborn children, and too often endangers their mothers, as well," she added. "This ruling contradicts the consensus among medical groups that such measures protect women's lives."
On February 1, the USCCB's General Counsel had filed an amicus curiae briefcalling for the law to be upheld on behalf of USCCB, the Texas Catholic Conference, and several other Christian partners.
Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, abortion, clinic safety, health care, pro-life, General Counsel, Texas abortion law, amicus curia, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, U.S. Supreme Court
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Norma Montenegro Flynn
USCCB Committee Chairmen Say Federal Agency Fails to Protect Churches from California Elective Abortion Mandate
California continues to force health plans to cover elective abortions
USCCB calls for immediate remedy
Ruling fails to respect the right to life, religious freedom, and the rule of law, bishops say
June 22, 2016
WASHINGTON--On June 21, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared, contrary to the plain meaning of current federal law, that the California Department of Managed Health Care can continue to force all health plans under its jurisdiction to cover elective abortions. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling for an immediate federal legislative remedy.
"It is shocking that HHS has allowed the State of California to force all employers - even churches - to fund and facilitate elective abortions in their health insurance plans. Even those who disagree on the issue of life should be able to respect the conscience rights of those who wish not to be involved in supporting abortion," Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a statement. Cardinal Dolan is chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and Archbishop Lori chairs the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.
"This administrative ruling fails to respect not only the rights to life and religious freedom, but also the will of Congress and the rule of law," the chairmen added. "As a remedy to the Administration's unwillingness to fulfill its responsibilities, we urge Congress to pass the Conscience Protection Act (H.R. 4828, S. 2927) and stop further discrimination against people of faith and against all who respect unborn human life."
Several churches and other religious organizations had filed complaints with the HHS Office for Civil Rights asserting that California's reinterpretation of state law violated the federal Weldon Amendment prohibiting discrimination by states against health insurance plans that do not cover abortion. The Conscience Protection Act would provide specific relief for those who decline to participate in abortion rather than relying solely upon HHS to defend their rights.
Norma Montenegro Flynn
LIFE ISSUES FORUM
June 10, 2016
By Kimberly Baker
There was once a four-year-old girl who had some delays with speech development. Her doctor and parents agreed that she should work with a speech-language pathologist to correct this difficulty. There were times during the sessions when it was frustrating, not being able to form her mouth or move her tongue the right way to make sounds which came so easily for everyone else. There were also those rare, joyful moments when suddenly she was able to speak more clearly and pronounce the word exactly as she had intended. After several years, the speech difficulties were corrected, the sessions came to an end, and the girl continued on with her life.
That little girl was me. When I look back at those years, I remember the speech therapist as a woman who tirelessly encouraged me to try again and again as I worked to overcome my difficulties. I no longer remember her name, but she is one of those special teachers I will always remember from my early childhood. I wonder how many other young children benefited from her gentle reassurance and guidance.
Today, it is easy for me to take for granted what I can do with my incredible power of speech. We live in a world which takes delight in wit, quick "comebacks," and clever wordplay in political discourse, entertainment, and, of course, in everyday conversation. It is easy to forget the power of words to either tear down or to affirm others, and even easier to take for granted the ability to speak at all.
A culture that respects life seeks to accompany others in various life circumstances, reminding them of their worth and dignity, which cannot be taken away. When we encounter fragility and brokenness, especially in those who are struggling or suffering in some way, we each have the capacity to guide others to the light of God's love through our attentiveness and tender encouragement-especially through our words.
It is in concrete circumstances that we can each be a ray of light to another, reflecting back his or her dignity through the words we choose. The person may be facing a terminal illness, wondering whether life is worth living; living with a disability and questioning her value; or struggling with depression, lacking the hope to continue on. God has a purpose for every life he creates, and it is amazing to know that each one of us has been loved from all eternity.
We have each been created with a tremendous capacity to love. Let us be attentive to the daily opportunities to speak to others of their sacredness in God's eyes. How much are we willing to gently guide others-sometimes out of very dark places-closer to the light of God's love? However brief the encounter, you never know how much your loving, affirming words can positively impact one life.
Kimberly Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
Made for freedom video
Life Issues Forum: Life Lived in a Petri Dish
May 6, 2016
British scientists have created a substance that mimics a mother's womb, allowing human embryos to implant on the side of a petri dish and continue their development long past the previous technological limit of seven to eight days. In short, this new technology makes it possible to grow human beings in a lab. Completely removed from the context of a nurturing family, they are cultivated solely for experimentation, often under the guise of curing common problems related to pregnancy and fetal development.
Pope Francis predicts that the technological domination of nature — and its attendant "logic of . . . exploitation" (Laudato Si' 230) — will only continue ever more hastily if humanity refuses a call to conversion. But with that conversion slow in coming, how are we to counter the logic of exploitation with what the Holy Father deemed in a July 9, 2015 homily the "logic of love. . . ?"
At the moment of conception, a unique human being comes into existence — one who possesses an innate, God-given dignity worthy of protection at all stages of his or her development. That is true whether he or she was conceived in the usual way or through technological manipulation. If coerced experimentation on adults is immoral, how much more so is experimentation on a developing human who lacks the voice to give his or her consent — or to cry out for help. It is particularly egregious to create human beings solely for the purpose of experimentation.
The Church has addressed embryo experimentation often in recent years. In Evangelium Vitae. . . , Pope Saint John Paul II wrote that "the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person" (EV 63). Our U.S. bishops addressed embryo-destructive research in their statement "On Embryonic Stem Cell Research" after taking on the many ethical problems raised by in vitro fertilization and other artificial reproductive methods in "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology." And just this year, Pope Francis dedicated an entire paragraph (n. 136) to embryo exploitation in Laudato Si'. . . .
Servant of God Dr. Jerome Lejeune lived a vibrantly Catholic life in which medical science and faith were seamlessly integrated. Lejeune would have appreciated authentic research designed to increase our understanding of miscarriage, infertility, and birth defects. But he would have strongly condemned any research that destroys embryonic humans in the pursuit of therapies to save others who are the same size and age. His search for cures never competed with his respect for life. Rather than giving in to the logic of exploitation, Lejeune's advocacy for the defenseless and his tireless work on behalf of persons with disabilities obeyed the logic of love.
Pray to Mary, the heavenly Mother of all human beings, including those who will now spend their lives trapped in a petri dish under a scientist's gaze. Entrust these tiny children — and the scientists — to her "maternal affection" (LS 241). Pray that we find cures through methods of research that we can all live with!
Tommy O'Donnell is a Staff Assistant for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
Cardinal Dolan Calls New FDA Abortion Drug Guidelines 'Irresponsible,' Offers Assistance to Pregnant Women
April 1, 2016
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities responded to new guidelines issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the abortion drug, RU-486.
"The FDA has irresponsibly loosened its guidelines for the dangerous abortion drug RU-486 expanding its use an additional three weeks into pregnancy, and allowing provision by non-physicians," he said. "The unofficial, off-label use of RU-486 is now the new normal, paving the way for the destruction of even more innocent lives, and putting women and girls at risk for all the life-changing effects of abortion."
"Far from wanting abortion to be 'rare', abortion advocates are celebrating this expanded use as opening an ever-widening door to abortion. They are equally celebrating the FDA's neglect of women's health. Women have died from this drug, and many who used it after 8 weeks of pregnancy ended up returning for surgical abortions. This anguish, too, will now be visited on more women," Cardinal Dolan said.
He concluded with an offer of assistance to women: "Any woman who finds herself pregnant may come to Catholic agencies for non-judgmental, caring assistance. Catholic Charities, pregnancy help centers, and many parishes stand at the ready to assist those in need."
WASHINGTON—Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), responded September 1 to Pope Francis’ letter allowing all priests worldwide "to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it."
The full text of his response is as follows:
Pope Francis has given the Church and the world a great gift in his announcement of Jubilee Year of Mercy that will begin December 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, continuing through to the Solemnity of Christ the King in November of 2016.
The Holy Father today shared that there will be many occasions for the faithful to experience the graces of the Year of Mercy, including those who are confined at home or at a medical facility and those who are incarcerated.
Recognizing the seriousness of the sin of abortion and the implications this can have for those involved, Pope Francis is making particular outreach to women, noting that many women were under great pressure and felt that they had no choice. Under the provisions of canon law, absolution of certain serious sins, including abortion, was reserved to the diocesan bishop. For many years in the United States, including in the Archdiocese of Boston, diocesan bishops have granted their priests the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion. As part of the outreach of the Year of Mercy, the Holy Father will now grant all priests worldwide the faculty “to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it." His words acknowledge the reality of God’s abiding mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, and that God welcomes all with open arms.
My hope and prayer is that all those carrying the burden of an experience of abortion would turn to the Church and her sacraments and experience the Lord’s mercy and love. Wherever a person might be in their healing journey, please know that in the Archdiocese of Boston and most dioceses in the United States, Project Rachel and other post-abortion healing ministries offer a compassionate and understanding pathway to renewal. To find the nearest diocesan healing ministry, go to the ‘Find Help’ map at www.hopeafterabortion.com or www.esperanzaposaborto.com.
Locally, in the Diocese of Austin, diocesan bishops have granted their priests the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion and the Project Rachel Ministry Team is always ready to help women and men affected by an abortion experience. More information can be found here. If you would like to speak to someone, please call the Pastoral Care Coordinator at (512) 949-2488 or send a confidential email to Project-Rachel@AustinDiocese.org.