WASHINGTON (CNS) — Comparing the pro-life cause to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech during the 1963 March on Washington, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston said the dreams can take a long time to come true.
“We are all painfully aware that dreams rarely come true overnight. They point us in one direction and encourage us to make the journey,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his homily during a Jan. 21 Mass that ended the annual National Prayer for Life Vigil in Washington.
Such was the case for St. Joseph, he explained. Joseph was visited in a dream by an angel, who told him that King Herod – who wanted the Child Jesus dead – was now dead himself. “Bring the child and his mother back to the land of Israel,” said the angel. The Holy Family had fled to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous rage.
“Joseph’s whole life is completely turned upside down, but he is completely and generously obeying the will of God,” Cardinal O’Malley said during Mass at the National Shrine Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
In the same way “half a century ago,” he recalls, it happened to him – when he was a Capuchin Franciscan priest ministering at the Spanish Catholic Center in Washington and known as “Father Seán.” — and happened to March for Life founder Nellie Grey.
“We dreamed that we wouldn’t have to come back every year on a cold January day,” he said, and that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide “would one day be relegated to the dustbin of history.
Gray “gave up her career as a Labor Department lawyer to dedicate her life” to this cause, the cardinal said.
“Perhaps it will be the year of Herod’s death, when the legal protection of unborn children will be enshrined in our laws,” he noted.
A case currently before the United States Supreme Court involving a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks is seen by many as a direct challenge to Roe.
Court watchers speculate that the judges could decide to overturn Roe or at the very least severely curtail it with their decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Care. The judgment is expected in June or early July.
Even as the legality of abortion once again becomes an issue for state legislators, there is still much to be done, Cardinal O’Malley said in his homily.
“The pandemic has exposed terrible inequalities that exist in our society and in our world”, including less access to health care, education, housing and “even justice in our courts”, he said. he noted.
“Minorities account for two-thirds of abortions each year,” because “whatever meager help comes (is) much too late,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “We are failing them and their children in these difficult times. We can and must do better.”
“Dismantling unjust laws is only the beginning. We still have the daunting task of creating a pro-life culture, changing hearts and minds,” he said, but if pro-lifers “present themselves as judgmental and self-righteous, we will only get never a hearing in America. ”
On the contrary, Cardinal O’Malley declared: “our task is not to judge others, but to try to bring healing. … Our job is to build a society that cares for everyone, where every person matters, where every life matters. Otherwise, he warned, “poverty, racism and economic injustice will continue to fuel abortion in the post-Roe v. Wade world.”
The antidote to abortion, he said, “ultimately will be solidarity and community” to counter “so much isolation, alienation and individualism.”
Women with difficult pregnancies are “often overwhelmed and forced to end the child’s life,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Our role as a church is to build a strong sense of community where people feel responsible for each other. The statistics are grim: 1 million abortions a year. Most of these abortions are performed on single women living in poverty.
The cardinal recalled the Marshall Plan, in which the United States helped rebuild a Europe ravaged by the ravages of World War II. “What are we doing for the poor in our own country? He asked. “A land where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer will always be fertile ground for abortion.”
Cardinal O’Malley called it ironic that “2 million Americans each year try to adopt children, and only 20,000 American babies are given up (for adoption). At the same time, a million babies are aborted. It’s tragic.
He said: “Only a huge educational effort can change the cultural prejudices that exist. Adoption needs to be friendlier, it needs to be more transparent and it needs to be celebrated,” adding that adoptive parents can find a role model in Saint Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.
“Changing the laws is important, but building a civilization of love is what will ultimately defeat abortion in our culture,” Cardinal O’Malley said. Promoting the social gospel, human rights and economic justice are necessary, he added, “to build a civilization of love – or there will be no civilization at all.”