October 8, 2021

‘There is work to do’

Catholics ‘cannot be soft or lax’ in pro-life efforts, says Archbishop Thompson

Maribel Aguilar holds her son Alan Santiago during the Respect Life Mass on Oct. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. They are members of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Maribel Aguilar holds her son Alan Santiago during the Respect Life Mass on Oct. 3 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. They are members of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in Indianapolis. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

When Archbishop Charles C. Thompson greeted the congregation during the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 3, he acknowledged the groups present among its members.

“We have an archbishop, deacons, religious sisters, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, the [Ladies Ancient Order of] Hibernians, the laity,” he enumerated.

All were present to honor the pro-life cause—the dignity of each human life from conception to natural death.

(Related: Respect Life award winners offer ‘the justice of a good witness’)

At Mass, pro-life advocates find unity in the Eucharist. But in the secular world, “advocates for a consistent respect life ethic have no political camp or movement in which they can feel completely at ease or comfortable,” the archbishop said in his homily.

“For Catholics, an authentic embrace of Church respect life teaching must be comprehensive rather than picking and choosing from some type of smorgasbord of issues. To be credible, despite the agenda of any particular political party or movement, we must be consistent.”

‘There is ongoing work to do’

Such credibility and consistency have life-saving results, both for those served and those serving.

“Ultimately, our credibility is not weighed so much by public opinion or popularity as it is how we must stand before God and give account for what we do or fail to do,” Archbishop Thompson said. (Related: Catholics standing up for life around central and southern Indiana)

He noted that Catholics cannot be “soft or lax in promoting the dignity of the human person and defending the sacredness of life. …

“If we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is ongoing work to do in addressing practically every respect life issue. We can never rest on our laurels, so-to-speak, and become complacent about any particular concern.”

There have been “highs and lows” in the last year regarding efforts to uphold the dignity of each person, he remarked.

“In the last several months, there have been great challenges in the effort to protect the unborn and marriage, … while there has been some advancement in the care of immigrants, refugees and moratoriums on the death penalty.”

In the midst of the effort to respect life are challenges to religious liberty, the archbishop said.

“We must never lose sight and passion for the constitutional right, indeed, moral right and duty, of religious liberty. Without religious liberty, society is apt to become ever more dull in its collective conscience toward the vulnerable, the defenseless, the marginalized and those on the peripheries.”

‘Never lose sight of God in each other’

In the battle to uphold the dignity of each person, it is also important for pro-life advocates to keep in mind their own need for mercy and forgiveness, the archbishop said. Doing so “enables us to maintain a proper perspective that keeps a focus on loving sinners while hating sin. There is no better way to remain so focused than to be Christ-centered.”

Those involved in the battle to respect life “must be ultimately rooted in right relationship with God, the author of all creation in whose image we have been created,” he continued. “We must never forget that we are children of God, as the Gospel relates, completely dependent upon the Lord for our dignity and salvation.

“We must never lose sight of the child of God in each other. Whatever challenges we face with any particular respect life issue—whether the unborn, the immigrant, the addicted, someone on death row, creation itself—we must keep before us that we are primarily dealing with persons, families and the awesome wonder of creation rather than mere problems to be solved.”

The issues within the realm of respecting life are many. Archbishop Thompson included among them abortion, assisted suicide, addiction, unjust discrimination, capital punishment and the degradation of creation.

In all cases, “It is the dignity of persons, the sanctify of life and the indispensable role of family that we seek to promote, defend and celebrate,” he said.

“With this in mind, as Pope Francis exhorts us, we must never give up on being witnesses of accompaniment, dialogue, encounter, reconciliation and willingness to sacrifice for the other.

“It is in the name and person of Jesus Christ that we carry on the journey, the mission, with all its ups and downs, highs and lows, to lift up and embrace the dignity of every man, woman and child as created in the image of God.” †


Related story: Abortion survivor shares story of Christ’s power at Right to Life of Indianapolis fundraising dinner

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