Fr Leonard E Dollentas
My cousin who lives in Louisiana, in the United States, unexpectedly called me one evening. She was afraid and upset as she narrated her bad news: in their parish, the statue of the Virgin Mary was smashed, and someone planted a sign saying, “In memory of women who die from lack of legal abortion.” The following day, as I browsed the online news, Fox News5 reported that “The St. John Neumann Catholic Community Church in Reston – outside of Washington D.C. – had profane messages and pictures of female genitalia spray-painted on its exterior over the weekend.” Other news followed, recounting more vandalisms against other Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers in the US, following the Supreme Court’s landmark decision overturning Roe V. Wade on June 24, 2022.
Roe v. Wade is the 1973 US Supreme Court decision ruling that access to abortion is a constitutional right. A rollback of Roe v. Wade has a consequence of allowing individual states to decide the legal status of abortion in their territory. This would entail that abortion is expected to become illegal in about half of U.S. states where the constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy has not been codified into law. Abortion-rights activists have vehemently opposed the rollback and have adopted violent reactions to show their disgust.
The Church, throughout the ages, has been hated, misunderstood, slandered, ridiculed and even attacked. Though at times ridicule and rebuke come as a result of the personal faults of her members and even the painful misdeeds of the clergy themselves. But most often the Church has been and continues to be persecuted because she had been given the mission of proclaiming the liberating truth of Christ. As the Church lives out this divine mission, many refuse to understand and accept the truth it proclaims. They react with anger and bitterness. This is especially true in the area of morality. Often, when these truths are proclaimed, the Church is attacked and called every sort of slanderous name. Most often those who are very angry and violent are, in fact, those who need to know the liberating truth the most. In the news over the weekend, I saw a woman abortion activist fiercely shouting in the crowd to keep fighting for abortion rights. “You all are the wombs that are at risk; you all are the bodies that they’re trying to eliminate, they’re trying to take your abortion, access to abortion is essential for the well-being of all women,” she declared.
Some years ago, at St. Peters Square, Pope Francis made his toughest comments on abortion, calling it the suppression of human life in the name of safeguarding other rights. He asked “Is it right to take out a human life to solve a problem?” He even compared having an abortion to “hiring a hit man” to eliminate a problematic person.
The Roman Catholic Church maintains that abortion is murder because life begins at the moment of conception and ends with natural death. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” [¶2271].
Jesus says in the Gospel, “Fear not the one who can bind your hand and foot, rather fear him who can throw you into Gehenna.” And the only one who can throw us into Gehenna is ourselves because of the free choices we make. All we ultimately need to fear is wavering from the truth of the Gospel in our words and deeds. May Christ give the Church in the US and the entire Church the courage, charity and wisdom they need to continue to be the instruments upholding “the truth” and keeping “it safe.”
(Photo : Sacred Heart of Mary Church, Boulder, Colorado USA)