What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: January 12, 2006
January is an important month for remembering the past and for looking forward to tomorrow. The entire nation pauses to recall the priceless legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the struggle for civil rights that he led with such integrity and dedication. Soon thereafter, we must also remember the sad bequest of the Supreme Court’s decision back in 1973, which legalized abortion in our nation. Both movements changed our nation in significant ways.
As a new resident of the South, I have been told of what life was like throughout our region for African-Americans during the time of segregation. We lived in a divided society that may have seemed pleasant on the surface in many respects but was also incredibly harsh in so many other ways.
Thanks be to God the struggles that many brave souls endured at such a high price have made our entire society so much better for all.
January is also the time when we must recall the sad decision that has already cost the lives of millions of babies in the womb. The Roe v. Wade decision permitted countless numbers of unborn children to be slaughtered in the womb—sanitized by the language of choice as though women and men had no other choices besides killing the child within the womb.
January is also a time to have hope that the New Year will provide many opportunities for improving life, both personally and as a society. Just as we pause to give thanks for the legacy that Dr. King and his colleagues left behind, we must also continue to work to realize the fulfillment of that dream of true and lasting freedom, equal opportunity, deep and lasting love among all of the races, cultures and religious communities with whom we share both our region and our nation.
Much has been done, but there is still much more to be achieved so that the future will be better for the youngsters of today. We must teach our young people to respect and to love one another so that this nation will grow strong and flourish under the lofty principles of our foundation.
At the same time, we Catholics must work with men and women of good will to seek to protect all vulnerable life. Abortion is a foundational concern, but our desire to see it overcome must also lead us to reverence all human life at each stage of its existence. Protecting life within the womb is a first and primary challenge since without the breath of life, all other rights and human dignity are moot. Roe v. Wade was a terrible legal decision that has paved the way for other subsequent unfortunate laws that build on the faulty logic that spawned this verdict.
January is a time to recommit ourselves to the promotion of the dignity of all human life. There are some hopeful signs that have recently been noted. The sheer number of abortions has fallen. While we do not yet know the reasons behind the decline, we might initially take heart at that development. Some very positive programs have emerged to assist young women who face challenging pregnancies. We must offer every support to such women and to the young men who may be very concerned about them and the babies that they carry. There may be a subtle mood change in our nation that might well suggest a maturing in our moral attitudes regarding this vitally important social and personal issue. All is not lost in this question. Moreover, if there is any hope for the future, it must be attributed to the many people who have kept the importance of this moral dilemma before our nation and our society.
January is a time to remember and to hope, to give thanks for all that has been and to pray for what may be in the future.