Archbishop Wuerl gives homily on the evils of abortion
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. has received much criticism for his approach (or lack there of) toward the pastoral issue of Catholic politicians who work to keep abortion and even seek to expand funding and access to abortion providers. While the bulk of the criticism comes from lay Catholics far removed from Wuerl’s episcopal and pastoral realities, a small number of priests have spoken out against Wuerl’s attitude toward the specific case of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. I intend to write a post on the fuller pastoral scope and moral implications of Wuerl’s (in)action this Thursday or Friday. I will address Church teaching, recent CDF statements on the precise question of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, some comments in the Catholic blogosphere, and some points from recent First Things articles.
Here are a few excepts from Archbishop Wuerl’s homily from the Mass for Penance and Prayer given yesterday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception (you can read the full homily here).
Today we are confronted with the evil of abortion on demand. It is almost inconceivable that in a society which calls itself civilized it would be legal under the heading of “abortion” to kill a perfectly healthy, almost full-term child. That is what a partial-birth abortion is. In like manner, we should be appalled at how easily unborn human life is killed throughout this nation.
When all of the arguments surrounding the abortion issue are viewed rationally, honestly and calmly, they do not justify the final and drastic decision to take the life of an unborn child. In varying degrees there can be vexing, painful and pressing circumstances that call for a great deal of assistance, understanding, compassion and support, but they never justify the taking of the innocent life of the baby in the womb.
That infant can be a parable figure for us. Countless unborn infants are reaching out to hold on to us with all of their strength since we are the only voice they have in their struggle to find a place, a home, a life in this world.
Why does the Church speak so strongly, consistently and persistently in defense of human life? Why are you – we – here this morning? We are present in order that unborn children, in the millions around this world, have someone to hold onto, someone to cling to, someone who will speak for and protect them.
As we observe the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand and removed the political consensus that sought to regulate this destructive human action, we must not lose sight of the fact that more that 1.5 million unborn children are killed each year in the United States alone.
What adds to the harm afflicted on our society by abortion is the concerted effort to make such violence acceptable. Through laws and public policy that justify the taking of human life solely because it is inconvenient to someone, we engender in the hearts of our people especially our young, the next generation, the idea that death is a solution to a problem. The lesson has been too well learned. Violence does beget violence.
As a society we are witnessing the fruits of the abortion mentality. The generation of people now entering their thirties has grown up hearing over and over again – in school, from teachers, politicians, courts, the media, movies, music, television and various personalities – that it is all right to kill if the life you take is still in the womb. Too many of our young people have accepted this message. Is it any wonder that we have created a culture of violence?
We need to repudiate all forms of violence. That conviction brings us this morning to the altar. Jesus offered the way — demanding but fruitful. Prayer does change hearts. The current culture of violence will yield only to that spiritual force that first touches and then changes individual hearts. Prayer does work and it must be our instrument of change.
When asked what is it the Church, what is it you and I, what is it all of you gathered here today bring to the world, to our society, to our culture, to our nation?
We bring the vision of today’s Gospel – the Beatitudes. We see so much more when we see with the eyes of faith.
We see the coming of the Kingdom. We see comfort to those who mourn, mercy, righteousness, justice, peace and life. We bring the vision that allows us to act as the children of God and to act on behalf of God.
You bring a resounding reaffirmation of how good life is, how wonderful God’s good gift of life is, how blessed we are to share the gift of life and how we intend to make our voices heard in defense of life, in proclamation of the gospel of life, and in praise of the God of Life. Amen.