Prayer for life

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., last week wrote to all the priests of the diocese to ask that we invite the laity to join with us for a weekly moment of prayer every Friday from now until the end of September to pray “for the legal protection of human life.”

You can read more about this prayer campaign on page two of this edition of The Anchor. We are praying that a “change in the U.S. Supreme Court will move our nation to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life,” as Bishop da Cunha wrote.

We are doing this because “as soon as Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, pro-abortion groups began lobbying the U.S. Senate to reject any nominee who does not endorse Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 decision which legalized abortion. Bishop da Cunha termed this “a litmus test of support for abortion.”

Some people are critical of Catholics’ support for candidates who pledge to end legal abortion. A letter writer on page 20 admitted that “it is wrong to abort a baby,” but then tried to give reasons as to why she felt the need to support politicians who promote legal abortion. She did seem to indicate that she supported them not for their views on abortion, but for their other opinions which she felt showed their greater compassion (when compared to Pro-Life politicians).

In response, we Catholics have been trying to show that we have compassion both for the baby and for the mother. As reported on page five of this edition, many people from across our diocese just completed a campaign of prayer and service to help mothers and children in need. Although this was a big project, it is something which many Catholics (and other people of good will) engage in often, even daily. The woman known as Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) actually began her journey from being the cause of the 1973 Supreme Court decision to dying as a Catholic Pro-Life activist by her interaction with humble crisis pregnancy center workers, who set up shop next door to the abortion clinic where she worked. It is an amazing story of God’s love (you can read it at 

Pope Francis, in a letter on Sept. 1, 2015 granting indulgences for the Year of Mercy, wrote, “One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails. Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision. What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope.” Here the Holy Father displays the compassion which the letter writer doubted in Pro-Life politicians.

Pope Francis continued, “The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father. For this reason, too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father Who renews all with His presence.” Here the pope is describing true compassion, which is both welcoming of the penitent and affirming of the reality of the dignity of the baby (whose dignity is equal to that of all involved in abortion). 

On June 16 of this year Pope Francis met with members of Italian family associations. In his “off the cuff” remarks, he said, “Children are the greatest gift. Children who are welcomed as they come, as God sends them, as God allows — even if at times they are sick. I have heard that it is in fashion — or at least customary — in the first months of pregnancy to have certain exams, to see whether the baby is not well, or has some problems. The first proposal in that case is: ‘Shall we do away with it?’ The murder of children. And to have a nice life, they do away with an innocent.” 

Unfortunately, this is all too true — and has led to situations like the one Patricia Heaton (the wife on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and the mother on “The Middle”) described in America magazine: “I was taken aback when I read the CBS News tweet that stated, ‘Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.’ But as I tweeted on August 14, the country was not, in fact, eliminating Down syndrome. They were just killing everyone who has it” (America, Dec. 4, 2017).

Pope Francis continued his remarks, “When I was a boy, the teacher was teaching us history and told us what the Spartans did when a baby was born with deformities: they carried it up the mountain and cast it down, to maintain ‘the purity of the race.’ And we were stunned: ‘But how, how could they do this, the poor babies!’ It was an atrocity. Today we do the same thing. Have you ever wondered why you do not see many dwarfs on the streets? Because the protocol of many doctors — many, not all — is to ask the question: ‘Will it have problems?’ It pains me to say this. In the last century the entire world was scandalized over what the Nazis were doing to maintain the purity of the race. Today, we do the same thing, but with white gloves.”

We ask God to help us to turn our hearts away from rejecting human life, at any stage from conception until natural death. God hasn’t rejected us. We should not reject each other.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts