My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
January 22, 2019 marks the forty-sixth anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision. This year, as has become a tradition, hundreds of thousands of the faithful will gather in Washington, DC for the an-nual March for Life. This year's march is on January 18 and the theme is: " Unique from Day One: Pro Life is Pro Science." It is always inspiring to see young and old gathered to witness to life. It is a sign of hope that Life is winning in America.
The teaching of the church on human life has been consistent and clear since the first century. The Cate-chism of the Catholic Church states this in number 2271. "Since the first century the church has affirmed the moral evil of 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." Pope Francis echoes these statements in his latest Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. He writes: "Our defense of the inno-cent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm, and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development."
Since 1973 over sixty million lives have been lost to abortion. These are grim statistics, but recent studies suggest that abortions in the U.S. are going down. One of the spirit-led signs of life has been the recent success of the nationwide Forty Days for Life prayer campaign. Abortion clinics are closing, lives are being saved, but there is still much work that needs to be done.
In his landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life, Saint John Paul II, stresses the im-portance of prayer in transforming our culture from a culture of death to a culture of life. He writes: "We need first of all to foster, in ourselves and in others, a contemplative outlook. Such an outlook arises from faith in the God of life, who has created every individual as a 'wonder' (PS 139:14). It is the outlook of those who see life in its deeper meaning, who grasp its utter gratuitousness, its beauty and its invitation to freedom and responsibility. It is the outlook of those who do not presume to take possession of reality but instead accept it as a gift, discover-ing in all things the reflection of the creator and seeing in every person his living image." Through prayer, sacri-fice, education and efforts such as the March for Life we will once again cultivate the sense of wonder surround-ing the gift of human life. It is a message of great joy, as Saint John Paul II continues: "Inspired by this contem-plative outlook, the new people of the redeemed cannot but respond with songs of joy, praise and thanksgiving for the priceless gift of life."
Thank you for all that you do in the service of life here in the Diocese of Norwich. Life is winning! Let us continue to cultivate a deep and rich appreciation for the wonder of human life and the many gifts with which we have been blessed.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich