Cardinal Timothy Dolan has marked the upcoming anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a reflection encouraging the pro-life movement to remember the importance of mercy and to see the opportunity to reach those who do not identify as pro-life.
The Archbishop of New York said the pro-life cause backs “an essential moral vision that lifts up every human person.”
“Genuine progress must be progress for all, beginning with those most vulnerable who cannot speak for themselves,” he said in a Jan. 14 message. “May God bless our efforts to uphold human life!”
The cardinal cited Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium. There, the Pope said the defense of the unborn is “closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right … It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”
Cardinal Dolan heads the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities. His statement comes ahead of the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide.
“Abortion itself, despite the endorsement of our highest legal tribunal and many political and cultural elites, is as controversial as ever,” the cardinal said. “Most Americans oppose a policy allowing legal abortion for virtually any reason — though many still do not realize that this is what the Supreme Court gave us.”
Most Americans want to protect unborn children later in pregnancy, most want limits and regulations on abortion, and most want to bar taxpayer funding for abortion.
The cardinal noted that despite this, some are reluctant to adopt the pro-life mantle.
“Yet many who support important goals of the pro-life movement do not identify as ‘pro-life,’ a fact which should lead us to examine how we present our pro-life vision to others.”
Cardinal Dolan said most Americans are “open to hearing a message of reverence for life,” and so pro-life advocates “must always strive to be better messengers.”
“A cause that teaches the inexpressibly great value of each and every human being cannot show disdain or disrespect for any fellow human being,” he explained. “We should celebrate human freedom, always reminding others that this freedom is ours so we can freely choose the good — and that to enjoy this freedom, each of us must first of all be allowed to live.”
The cardinal said it is “wrenching” to mark the anniversary of legalized abortion so soon after Christmas.
Citing the Church’s Year of Mercy, Cardinal Dolan said that God’s love is infinite. He added: “this same love is a source of unbounded mercy and forgiveness for all who have fallen short of God's plans for us.”
Cardinal Dolan also criticized the “powerful and well-financed lobby” that backs abortion and tries to depict it as basic health care. He charged that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers hold that “abortion must be celebrated as a positive good for women and society, and those who cannot in conscience provide it are to be condemned for practicing substandard medicine and waging a ‘war on women’.”
He objected to the lack of conscience protections for those opposed to abortion, including the failure of President Obama and other national Democratic leaders who were unwilling to support the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.
In the cardinal’s view, there is an opportunity for pro-life advocates to reach most Americans.
“They do not see the unborn child as an illness or a tumor. They are repelled when they see the callousness of the abortion industry, as in the recent undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials calmly discussing the harvesting of body parts,” he said.
“They do not want to be pushed into actively promoting and paying for abortion. They do not want doctors and nurses who are sensitive to the value of life at its most vulnerable to be driven from the healing professions”
The Cardinal invited Catholics in particular to take part in the 9 Days for Life campaign of prayer and action Jan. 16-24.
He also noted the Church’s ministry Project Rachel, which offers mercy and reconciliation for people who have been involved in an abortion.
“I invite all who are concerned about the tragedy of abortion to recommit themselves to this vision of life and love, a vision that excludes no one,” he said.