From the Pastor – December 20, 2009

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk. 1:41-45 )

Sometimes I hear people within and without the Catholic Church complaining about the Catholic Church’s efforts to protect innocent human life. These people often characterize themselves as “pro-choice” and speak about a “right to choose,” and they treat the “abortion issue” as just one of a myriad issues facing the Church and the world. In concert with a sympathetic mass media who define abortion as a “woman’s rights issue,” the Catholic Church’s so-called “position” is disparaged, as if abortion is only wrong because a “bunch of men over in Rome” think so.

Reducing abortion to a “religious issue” is naive and superficial. Abortion isn’t wrong because “the Catholic Church says so.” Abortion is wrong because it’s the intentional killing of innocent children, and intentionally killing innocent human beings is always wrong. Always. And abortion is different from killings in war or the death penalty, both of which involve using deadly force as a means of self-defense against an aggressor. Children – whether two days old or two months old or two years old – can never be aggressors. They are innocent, and we have a duty to protect those who are innocent and vulnerable.

But there is another reason behind the zeal with which the Church defends the rights of children in the womb, and it’s theological. The Church has celebrated life within the womb since the beginning. At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, we recall the Annunciation, the day when the Angel Gabriel came to the Blessed Virgin Mary announcing the conception of Jesus. This Sunday’s Gospel recalls the Visitation – the encounter between Jesus and John the Baptist, which took place while they were each inside their mothers’ wombs. And just two weeks ago, we celebrated a Holy Day of Obligation remembering the Immaculate Conception of Mary – our belief that Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin at the moment of her conception in her mother’s womb.

Can we not see the importance of these events in the story of Jesus Christ? Our entire faith is bound to one crucial, unwavering fact: the Eternal Word of God, God from God, Light from Light, became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary and then was revealed to us on Christmas Day. What was in the Virgin Mary’s womb during her journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem other than the Son of God? Is there a greater siren call for our obligation to protect innocent life than the Incarnation of Jesus Christ?

Rev. Msgr. Christopher H. Nalty