I am looking forward to Saturday’s OneLife LA celebration.

This will be a day of family and friendship in celebration of the beauty and dignity of every human life — from conception to natural death.

People are coming from all over Southern California. I will be joined by my brother bishops here in Los Angeles and by bishops and representatives from our neighboring dioceses of Fresno, San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange.

The day will begin with prayer and a short procession from La Placita on Olvera Street to Grand Park. There we will be joined by community advocates and religious leaders, celebrities, athletes and entertainers — all gathered to celebrate with us the God-given truth that every life matters and every life is beautiful!

I hope that you will be able to join me.

OneLife LA is part of our local participation in the U.S. Bishops call for “9 Days For Life” — a period of prayer, penance and pilgrimage to call for an end to abortion and the legal protection of unborn children. In addition to OneLife LA on Jan. 17, I’ll be celebrating our annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn on Jan. 24 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

With these events, we are remembering a tragic day in our nation’s history — Jan. 22, 1973, the day the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in its Roe v. Wade decision.

Roe v. Wade continues to shape American consciousness and public life. At the political level, from debates in state legislatures to federal questions about health insurance, our country is clearly still divided over whether to allow abortion and what limits should be imposed on its practice.

For me, granting permission to take innocent life challenges the very foundation of our society — because it goes to the heart of our idea of human rights.

America was founded on the great truth that all men and women are created equal and that God gives everyone basic rights that no one can deny or take away.

Roe v. Wade turned this beautiful truth inside out. 

In granting a legal right for some people to take the lives of others, the Supreme Court in effect decided that human rights are granted by government — not by God. That gives the government the final say — not only in defining what is right and wrong, but also in deciding who gets to live and who does not.

There are many injustices in our society, but the most fundamental is the one our society rarely acknowledges — the routine taking of innocent human life every day through abortion.

The injustice of abortion includes the millions who have been killed before they had a chance to come into the world. Even more than that, the acceptance of abortion also sends the signal throughout society that human life is disposable and that some lives are not even worth protecting. Legalized abortion has also misled our leaders into thinking they can solve problems in our society by taking lives or preventing lives from being born.

This is what Pope Francis has been emphasizing. In an interview just published last week he linked abortion, euthanasia and birth control to a “culture of waste” that leads us to value human life only according to material standards.

Pope Francis said: “We discard whatever is not useful to this logic; it is this attitude that … leads people to discard babies through abortion. I am shocked by the low birth rates here in Italy. This is how we lose our link to the future. The culture of waste also leads to a hidden euthanasia of older people, who are abandoned. … We need to stop before it is too late.”

Popes and saints such as Blessed Mother Teresa have long seen this connection between abortion and other forms of violence and injustice in society.

And as Catholics we are all called to witness to the Gospel of life.

That means we need to stand with all those who are suffering in our society, beginning with those who are most innocent and vulnerable, the unborn and the elderly. We need to defend them against every aggression — including the false compassion that suggests they would be better off dead than they would be if they were alive, loved and cared for.

So I hope you will join me in standing up for life this Saturday at OneLife LA.

Let’s keep praying for each other this week — and let’s pray for our country.

Let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help our neighbors to see that life is beautiful and that every life matters — and that the right to life is the foundation of every other right and the true foundation of justice and peace in our society.

For information about OneLife LA, visit our website: onelifela.org.