WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 23, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Once again the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. was the scene on Sunday of the National Vigil for Life, held to mark the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Jan. 22, 1973 decision legalizing abortion, Roe vs. Wade.
The homily at the Sunday evening Mass was given by the U.S. bishops’ chair for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.
Addressing the many thousands of people packed in the basilica, Cardinal DiNardo classified the occasion as “a somber day of remembrance.”
He remarked on the large number of children and young people present at the vigil. “You are grand and eloquent witnesses to human life, enthusiasm unmoved by sour pundits who prefer to ignore you.”
Commenting on the first reading about the Prophet Jonah who urged the people of Nineveh to repent within 40 days, he observed that the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is next year. Since that decision 53 million children have lost their lives, and “millions of men and women have lives that will never be the same because of their tragic choices.”
We must continue to pray and work for a change in the laws, the cardinal said, but urged the protestors to avoid harsh rhetoric that would foreclose change and repentance.
“Yes, the Lord through his Son weeps over the loss of life; His simultaneous compassion and mercy opens up forgiveness to those who have greatly sinned,” he reflected.
“It is not weakness to show compassion for those with whom we have fundamental disagreement on human life, a matter of the greatest importance,” the cardinal added.
“We are the people of the Gospel of Life,” he proclaimed. As such, he said, the first duty is to be credible witnesses, living chaste lives and not being overcome by a desire for material possessions.
Cardinal DiNardo noted that there is positive news in the pro-life battle, with a record number of state laws that restrict abortions. As well, state prosecutors have begun to take action against late term abortionists who often injure and maim women.
“At the same time conscience protection and religious liberty for all of us who work for life has been put in jeopardy and represents a significant and troubling issue,” he said.
The cardinal also referred to the Holy Father’s Jan. 9 address to the Diplomatic Corps. In it Benedict XVI said: “(W)ith particular reference to the West, I am convinced that legislative measures which not only permit but at times even promote abortion for reasons of convenience and for questionable medical motives compromise the education of young people and, as a result, the future of humanity.”
He observed that the Church’s Year of Faith, which begins this October, will overlap with the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. “(M)ay the new evangelization, which always begins with personal conversion, be a prime vehicle for re-invigorating the Gospel of Life here in the United States,” he said, “for individuals, for the Church, and for the people of the United States.”
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