Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

In whose interest?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

This past weekend I was in Washington, D.C., with almost 40,000 young people from around the country. About 500 were from the Archdiocese of Chicago. We were there to commemorate the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that removed the protection of civil law from those members of the human race still in their mother’s womb. Since the legalization of abortion on demand, over 50 million unborn children have been killed in this country. Each January, young people march in the nation’s capital to show their respect for human life at all stages of its development, from conception to natural death. They march because they believe that life is a gift from God and should be protected in the laws of a civilized society. It is always good to be with them.

Washington sees many marches and demonstrations, although few of this size or regularity. Most others who come to visit government officials speak for their own interests or for some special group that seeks government help. The young people on the March for Life demonstrate and speak for people they will never meet, people who have never asked for anything, people without any defense or power to protect them. The marchers for life are different from any other group that comes to Washington. They are not a special interest group, and that is probably why few take the time to report what they do and many are unable to understand them or their purpose. Nevertheless, despite the media’s meager reporting and the official silence that often meets their efforts, it is because of their witness that a majority of Americans would now call themselves pro-life.

Not only unborn children are killed by legal abortion; so is the American legal system’s claim to being a civilizing influence in our society. A system of laws is judged good to the extent it protects those who cannot protect themselves. When an entire class of innocent people is made into outlaws just because they are not wanted, the country no longer can be relied upon to protect anyone from a violent end. People’s lives are now protected only so long as they have the physical or political power to protect themselves. The country has lost a good and decent legal system because of the decisions of the Supreme Court and the support for abortion on the part of many legislators. They are responsible to the electorate and to God not only for the deaths of unborn children but for the destruction of what is their particular responsibility: a legal system that marks a society as civilized. Young people know this; they have lived all their lives in a society that has hardened its conscience to the killing of the innocent.

The church not only preaches respect for unborn life but does more than any other non-governmental institution to accompany mothers through pregnancy, to help mothers and fathers to care for their children, to address poverty in our society, to instruct the ignorant and heal the sick. The young men and women at the March for Life are also part of these efforts. People who have a monetary and ideological interest in maintaining the legal status quo on abortion know this, even as they often deny it. One of the marchers asked me how to respond to those who treat abortion protestors with contempt. I told her she should tell them God loves them. That’s the most important lesson anyone of us learns, and it makes all the difference in this world and the next.

The Scripture readings last Sunday quoted the prophet Isaiah: “A people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” Christ is the light of the world. He died so that all might live. Each life is of infinite value because created by God and saved by Jesus Christ. Enlightened people base their own lives and actions on this light. Some who think of themselves as enlightened and even “progressive” are blind to this basic truth. They live in darkness. It is for them that the young people prayed and marched last weekend. They came to Washington to march for life and did so because they are enlightened. Their parents and pastors and teachers should be profoundly proud of them.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Francis Cardinal George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago