My name is Alex, and I’m a pro-life Catholic. Am I simply pro-life because I am a Catholic? That is a question that I have pondered over these last few days as our nation commemorates the 39th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. My conclusion is that my Catholic faith informs my conscience (as it does on issues of morality), but that I believe that I would still be pro-life if I were an atheist or agnostic.
In his homily at last night’s Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas spoke to a swelling crowd of bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, and laity:
“The sad anniversary recalled each year on January 22 has become an invitation to you, one that calls for prayer and vigil, marching and testifying, and a joyous love for human life that is unable to be defeated.”
The “joyous love for human life” that Cardinal DiNardo spoke of echoes the pleas of hundreds of thousands of Americans who march, walk, and pray today for an end of legalized abortion in the United States.
I suppose that my views on the pro-life movement (abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, and all other forms of ending human life prematurely) are grounded in my belief in the Ten Commandments (“You shall not kill”) and the Declaration of Independence (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”). I am pro-life because I am Catholic and American. The Ten Commandments and the Declaration of Independence really tap into human nature because they both capture something transcendent and universal, moving beyond the boundaries of nations, beyond the boundaries of self and the familiar. Lawmakers will not protect an unborn child, but are quick to outlaw euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
But how does the abortion issue relate to the New Evangelization? In Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Ubicumque et Semper establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the Holy Father explains the mission of the New Evangelization: “Although this task directly concerns the Church’s way of relating ad extra, it nevertheless presupposes first of all a constant interior renewal, a continuous passing, so to speak, from evangelized to evangelizing.” The task of evangelization is directed both ad extra (to the world) and ad intra (to the Church). The Church’s renewed mission is to proclaim the same gospel message of Jesus Christ in the modern world.
Legalized abortion is certainly one of those issues that all people, both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, need evangelization in order to continue a conversion of heart and conscience. In the same decree, Pope Benedict XVI writes that “there has been a troubling loss of the sense of the sacred, which has even called into question foundations once deemed unshakeable such as … a common understanding of basic human experiences: i.e., birth, death, life in a family, and reference to a natural moral law.”
In an attempt to reclaim the sacred, let us join today in prayer for the unborn. May we continue to pray for the evangelization and re-evangelization of all people, so that all people, born and unborn, can enjoy life to the fullest.
Alex R. Boucher is the Program & Operations Coordinator for the Catholic Apostolate Center. Follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexBoucher.