Sanctity of Human Life Sunday – January 19, 2020
The third Sunday of the Month of January, the Sunday often closest to January 22, the day in 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (and with its companion piece, Doe v. Bolton) legalized abortion on demand in the entire United States. It was President Ronald Reagan who issued a proclamation in 1984 designating January 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day, in an attempt to dampen the fires that surround the desire for abortion on demand, and to highlight the dignity of human life in the womb. At that time it was only eleven years since Roe v. Wade, and since that time while the number of abortions in the United States have decreased, they have by no means disappeared. Indeed, since 1973, abortion is responsible for taking more than 50 million innocent human lives.
After President Reagan’s bold proclamation in 1984, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, decided that they would call the Sunday closest to January 22, Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, giving churches all over the country an additional opportunity (with the first Sunday in October, and the entire Respect Life Month) to stand behind the pulpit and defend human life at all of its stages, from womb to tomb. While the October commemorations are designedly intended to speak about the entire range of life issues, the January commemoration is specifically tied to the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, making it more pointedly about the abortion issue in particular. Because of the recognized volatility surrounding the issue of abortion, in most churches this weekend there will be few whispers about abortion. Most clergy, while feeling strongly about the issue of abortion, fear saying anything about abortion from the pulpit lest ‘someone’ be offended. Anyone with even a modest exposure to life issues is not afraid of offfending people, since it so often seems to be the natural outcome of any abortion discussion.
Like our politics these days, abortion is a very polarizing issue, and those with the loudest voices often get the last say. Yet I would like to believe that the decrease in abortions is because we have been more successful than imagined at changing the hearts and minds of those who favor, promote, seek, or perform abortions. And changing hearts and minds is going to become all the more important as we approach a political horizon which is decidedly less red. While recognizing the abortion issue as an extremely important issue when voting, the changing of hearts and minds is far more important, and cuts across political boundaries. Some of those priests who have never spoken about the abortion issue from the pulpit, and there are many, are content to let elected politicians do the heavy lifting. But should there be a dramatic shift in our political arena, and I predict there will be, the preaching of ordinary priests about abortion, and all life issues, will become even more critically important.
Abortion is not woman’s health care, it should never have become constitutionally protected, it should never be written into political platforms as through all democrats believe in abortion on demand, and it should always be recognized for what it is – the termination of a precious human life! Most women choose abortion like a bear chooses to get caught in a trap. They are desperate and troubled, and do not deserve our scorn. Indeed, they deserve our prayers, and the help that was so evident at the San Cap Catholics Baby Shower on Thursday of last week. As tens of thousands of people will stand up for life in this week’s annual March For Life in Washington, D.C., and as we approach the sad anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22, may we increase our prayers, and strengthen our commitment to change the hearts and minds of all those who favor, promote, seek, or perform abortions.