Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Archbishop Chaput "Let Your Voice Supporting Life Be Heard"

Let your voice supporting life be heard

Christians have an obligation to love their country, build on its greatest qualities and serve its best ideals. We also have the duty to pray for our leaders and obey the law—insofar as the law does not violate human dignity in some systematic, gravely evil way. When bad laws and court decisions cripple the soul of a society, Christians must work to change them as a matter both of justice and charity. Otherwise we risk colluding in the evil of their outcome.

Obviously with families to raise, jobs to pursue and lives to live, not all Christians can be engaged in the many important issues facing our country. But we can always at least serve the truth by not lying to ourselves and to each other.

Earlier this week, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States. He is a man of extraordinary skill and intelligence. He was elected on a message of national renewal, unity and hope. These are worthy goals, and we should wholeheartedly support his administration in all these things. His inauguration marks a tremendous victory for racial justice in our country. It also serves as a fitting tribute to the memory of Rev. Martin Luther King and his struggle for civil rights. Barack Obama’s rise to the presidency reminds us that among the family of nations, the United States remains very unusual: It is still a place where people can succeed on their ability; where politics can actually matter; and where evil structures and laws can be changed by sustained, peaceful witness.

This week, Jan. 22, also marks the 36th anniversary of one of the most destructive Supreme Court decisions in American history, Roe v. Wade. By legalizing permissive abortion and drastically limiting voters’ ability to restrict it in any way, Roe set the foundations for an abortion industry that has wounded countless women and resulted in the killing of more than 40 million unborn children. President Obama’s past record of support for abortion “rights,” embryonic stem cell research and other violations of human dignity is deeply troubling, and also deeply ironic, given his sensitivity to other human rights.

Before and during the recent election, then-Senator Obama pledged his support for a Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) that would strike down all state restrictions on abortion and sweep away the many modest but important gains made by the prolife movement over the past three decades. The president’s Catholic supporters now claim that a pro-FOCA effort is unlikely in the coming congressional session, and that the Obama administration may take a go-slow approach to the abortion issue.

We can hope this is true. But of course, the form and timing of FOCA-like efforts are irrelevant. It’s the political intent behind them that matters. We have to work with what we know to be true by the president’s own words. The Obama administration was elected on the economy, but along with President Obama’s economic mandate comes his forcefully abortion “rights” public record and party platform. Nothing in the president’s words or actions has suggested a change in his fundamental goals.

In the coming weeks, Catholics across the United States—including Catholics in every parish here in the Archdiocese of Denver—will be asked to sign a petition to our elected officials opposing FOCA and asking them to respect the dignity of unborn human life. Whether FOCA actually materializes in the coming session of Congress is not finally important; the message we send is. In fact, with the current Congress and administration, the abortion lobby could accomplish its destructive agenda quite easily by incremental legislative and executive steps that would have a much lower profile than a “Freedom of Choice Act,” but the same bloody effect.

We’re in a new moment for our country; a moment that offers great promise, but also requires great vigilance and sustained action to defend the dignity of human life at its earliest and most vulnerable stage. When you’re asked to sign the U.S. bishops’ petition opposing FOCA in your parish, please sign it enthusiastically and encourage others to do the same. This is an issue—protecting unborn human life—that transcends party affiliation and needs all of us as believers to speak clearly with one voice.

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