Proclaiming the Gospel of Life


“Is present-day America becoming less sensitive, less caring toward the poor, the weak, the stranger, the needy? It must not! … Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition.”

Pope John Paul II

New York, Oct. 6, 1995

John Paul II’s words are a reminder to us that as people of faith we have a responsibility to call attention to those things in our society that threaten human life and human dignity. In whatever way we can, we are called to proclaim a Gospel of Life in a culture that often ignores the dignity and value of human life. In the Catholic tradition, citizenship is a virtue! We need to seriously consider how we exercise our political responsibility and bring our rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching to the public arena. The moral and ethical questions of our day compel us to be thoughtful, prayerful and active in setting the framework for public policy. Issues of poverty, racism, euthanasia, abortion, as well as other societal concerns tear at and destroy the fabric of human life.

Each of us is called to be a witness to the Gospel. We may be able to effect change by our daily prayer or by writing a letter or making a phone call. We may be a support to those who work more actively for justice and peace. Whatever your gift, consider how you share that in these days of newness.

As Jan. 22 approaches we are painfully aware that this is the 25th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. The most recent development of partial-birth abortion is perhaps the most disturbing result of these past 25 years. This procedure, which destroys partially born children in the later stages of pregnancy, has been rejected by an overwhelming number of medical and legal experts. The American Medical Association has determined that this procedure is never medically necessary. In fact, the procedure may significantly threaten a mother’s health and her ability to carry future children to term.

In 1996 and 1997 Congress voted to ban this procedure. President Clinton vetoed the bills. The current bill, HR 1122, the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997 bans partial birth abortions with a “life of the Mother” exception. An effort is underway in Congress to override the veto with a 2/3 vote of both the House and Senate.

What can we do?

Pray for all involved in making these decisions about public policy. Consider making a phone call to your congressional representative, senator or the president. Write a letter to one or all of the above. Both of the South Carolina senators have indicated their support for the ban but you may consider writing to encourage and thank them.

Where to write:

The Honorable ___________________

U. S. Senate

Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable ___________________

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

Congressional phone number: (202) 224-3121

President William J. Clinton

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

White House phone number: (202) 456-1111

Be sure to include your name and address on the letter, or give it on the phone. Be brief and courteous. Be specific about asking to override the president’s veto of HR 1122. And ask for a written response to your letter or call.

Let us all pray for a transformation of heart and society!

A video is available from the Catholic Charities Office on Partial-Birth Abortion. Call (803) 769-4466 for more information.

Sister Pat Keating, OP, is regional coordinator of Catholic Charities for the Coastal Deanery.