Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
January is a month during which we highlight pro-life concerns. There are marches and prayer vigils throughout the country focused on the protection of children in the womb. We mark Jan. 22 — the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion on demand — as a Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. There also are ongoing efforts, similar to the “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative launched earlier this year by the U.S. bishops, to assist pregnant women facing challenging circumstances.
The protection of human life and promotion of human dignity are core tenets of Catholic social teaching rooted in Scripture. The Book of Genesis reminds us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Psalm 139 tells us: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works! My very self you know.”
This month we pray in a special way for an end to abortion. But we must not ignore other attacks on life, such as physician-assisted suicide and capital punishment. The divine dignity inherent in every human being also is degraded when we overlook the poor, fail to welcome the stranger, or discriminate against people because of the color of their skin. All of this contributes to a culture of death. We Christians instead must be lights in the darkness by living the Gospel of life! In the words of St. John Paul II, we are all called to be “people of life and for life” always and everywhere.
How can we do this, not only this month, but year-round?
- Check with your parish for opportunities to help pregnant women in need, support a local food shelf, or assist others on the peripheries in your community, including the elderly and new immigrants.
- Spend time in prayer — by yourself or in a group (online, if in-person isn’t possible) — and pray for a conversion of hearts so that all life, from conception to death, will be respected and nurtured.
- Get involved in this year’s state legislative session. The Minnesota Catholic Conference’s Catholic Advocacy Network offers ways to easily take action and stay informed on issues, policies and legislation throughout the year. Your pro-life witness will help to keep harmful legislation, such as the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, from becoming law.
Let us pray for the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, that God will grant us the strength and courage to witness to the Gospel of life every day of our lives.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud