January 22 marks the 49th anniversary of the tragic decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in legalizing abortion through its decision in Roe v. Wade. On this day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn life, the Bishops of Florida have published their annual letter emphasizing that, “The Catholic Church stands emphatically and unreservedly for the rights of the unborn. We look forward with the hope that God will soon bring our nation to a profound awareness of the dignity of human life and a recognition that all lives deserve protection under the law.”
All the efforts in our nation, from prayerful marches to the continued persuasion of our legislators, to put an end to legalized abortion make a difference. The power of prayer has been effective in turning hearts and closing abortion sites. Efforts to keep the issue of the sanctity of life prominent in our nation have made progress. In many countries around the world, it is unfortunate that the matter of legal abortion is taken for granted and not opposed, as it is here in the United States. The efforts of so many faithful people and of the Church, in particular, have made a tremendous difference and will continue to do so. We must not become discouraged or slacken our efforts to promote the dignity of life and to put an end to abortion.
On this 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, as we recall with deep regret the tragic decision of the Supreme Court, we must realize that continued and concerted efforts to overturn the decision should be in a positive fashion. Life comes into existence from the first moment of conception and at that point, a person, created in the image of likeness of God with God’s own gift of life, comes into being. The person in the womb of his or her mother is to be afforded the respect and dignity of every person and, above all, the right to life!
This is a good time for all of us to turn our attention to the gift of life, which God has given to each of us. When God created us, he made us in His own image and likeness and infused His very life within us. Our society today, in focusing on the material aspects that enhance life, many times forgets that it is life which is primary and all else is secondary to it. The end is life and everything else is simply a means to enhance life. They are not ends in themselves.
Every person is unique, individual, and unrepeatable. In His infinite love and wisdom, God conceived of every person in His plan of creation before the creation of the world. Everything else that God created, from the beauty of creation to the means that He gave us to foster His creation, He made for the service of the human person. Moreover, when God created each person, He did so with a purpose and plan for every person, which only he or she can carry out. It is to the glory of God for us to realize that there is only one of every person, who will make a difference in the history of this world which only that person can make. Each individual person will never be repeated!
It is no small wonder that every person, from the child in the womb to the elderly and infirm, is to be afforded the highest degree of love and respect. Our society needs to concentrate on the dignity which is the right of every person. Our society needs to re-discover the value of family in which love and respect for life are fostered. Respect for life and family are part of the same picture. It is in a loving family that a child comes to appreciate his or her dignity and to receive the real values that matter in life.
Together, by our action, example, and prayer, we must continue to do all we can to enhance the quality of life for every human person. As followers of Christ, the Son of God who took our human nature to Himself, we are to love others with the realization that God is our Father and that every person is a precious gift from Him. We must persuade our legislators to enact laws that promote the gift of life and to overturn legislation that harms family values and permits abortion. Again, we must never underestimate the power of prayer and example. It is God, the Creator of life, who uses our efforts to do the impossible.
We thank God for the gift of life, and we recommit ourselves to promoting the life and dignity of every human person. We recall the words of our Lord, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full“ (Jn 10:10). I thank all those in our Diocese so committed to the protection of life for their example and efforts. They make a difference. Let us persevere through all of our prayer and all of our efforts in a positive fashion to end abortion and foster a respect for the gift of life at every stage.
In the concluding words of the statement of the Florida Bishops, “The Church seeks to be a beacon in a dark world and desires to serve as a field hospital to all who are contemplating or have been harmed by abortion. Even while we recommit to highlighting the great good in embracing life so that abortion is unthinkable, may the Lord continue to renew our collective passion to advocate for the protection of unborn children from harm. … Let us continue to fight for a culture of life in all spheres so that our society may appreciate the truth that every person - no matter their size, ability, or location - is worthy and worth protecting.”
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
January 21, 2022