Bishop Ricken was joined by many deacons and priests from around the diocese, who concelebrated the Mass with him. It was the second Respect Life Mass the bishop celebrated in less than a week. On Tuesday, Jan. 18, he celebrated Mass at St. Bernadette Church in Appleton.
Bishop Ricken noted that while Roe v. Wade was the legislation that legalized abortion in the United States, the attitudes that led to this legislation had been forming for some time.
“I just remember that in 1968, what some authors have called a ‘horrible year,’ this country took a very negative turn, a disobedient turn,” he said. “It saw a turn away from all that had been, a turn from all that is good and a turn even against the family, and the promotion of free thinking. And we know where free thinking has gotten us. It has gotten us into deeper slavery and even into abortion, death and murder.”
Particularly disturbing to the leader of the Green Bay Diocese were the statistics that he recently came across relating to abortion in the state of Wisconsin. Bishop Ricken told the congregation that each day in the state, 23 unborn children are killed. The number of abortions statewide in 2009 was 8,542, an increase of more than 300 deaths from the previous year, he said.
“Brothers and sisters this makes me horribly sad,” said Bishop Ricken. The numbers are going up and not down. Even though we have been working hard in so many ways, even though we have been offering so many prayers in this movement and offering so much fasting, care and concern, the numbers continue to go up. It is a time of remorse. Why are we allowing this in our state?”
Towards the end of his homily, the bishop asked the faithful to kneel with him for a few minutes of silence in an act of reparation and petition of God’s mercy for the failure of staying silent and not protecting life.
Bishop Ricken concluded his homily with a message of hope. To young people, he asked them to pray for the gift of courage to stand up among their peers. In particular, he asked them to have the courage to confront those who are headed down the wrong path and love them enough to challenge them to walk down a different path.
To the rest of the faithful, he said that no one in the church is immune from standing up for life and spreading the pro-life message. He shared that the faithful must continue to be a voice crying out in the wilderness.
“In most cases women have no support. Often, all they need is a helping hand, a way out of their panic to realize that God is with them and will help them,” said Bishop Ricken. “You and I brothers and sisters must be the hands, mouths and the loving compassion of Christ to help young women to turn the other way when it comes to going to an abortion clinic and to embrace life.”