Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Homily from Respect Life Mass

By | January 25, 2012

Blessed John Paul II stated very clearly in “The Gospel of Life” that, “Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the word of God who was made flesh, is entrusted to the maternal care of the church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the church’s very heart … and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature” [EV, 3.].

Our Catholic Church teachings proclaim first and foremost that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. Not only is this our teaching, but also natural law.

Fifty-three million babies have died through the choice of abortion in America since the 1973 Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. If anyone here is 39 years or younger, we have allowed the killing of one-third of your generation. We have to ask: Are we any better than the Holocaust by the Nazis in the 1940s, or the genocide by the Hutus

in Rwanda in 1994 who killed 1 million Tutsis, or the African-American slavery trade that was part our American history? Today in our country, are we are allowing the dehumanization of human life and the lack of protection for the civil rights of our preborn? Yes we are.

Society manipulates terms that mask the truth like “choice,” “women’s rights” and “planned parenthood.” As for the Catholic Church, we must recognize this is a deception, knowing that abortion is an intrinsic evil. We must turn it on its head, be a witness to truth and rise to the challenge to grow a culture that respects each human life. We must be Catholic in a world that wants to silence our voices and diminish our rights and freedoms and we must be committed to the biblical mandates for life and the Catholic teaching on human dignity.

Blessed John Paul II said, “To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop” [EV, 100].

Every person must come to understand that each human life is created in the image and likeness of God, that includes all preborn life. The instruction, Dignitis Personae (“The Dignity of a Person”), by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is addressed to “all who seek the truth.” It states that, “The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death,” recognizing “the fundamental and inalienable rights of every human being, including those in the initial stages of their existence. The fulfillment of this duty implies courageous opposition to all those practices which result in grave and unjust discrimination against unborn human beings, who have the dignity of a person, created like others in the image of God.”

Dignitatis Personae says, “Christian faithful everywhere are called to commit themselves to the energetic promotion of a new culture of life to safeguard the vulnerable condition of human beings in the first stages of life and to promote a more human civilization.”

The answer is clear. God is the author of life. As he blesses our nation with such abundance, we are called to pray, to fast and to combat this culture of death by our steadfast and fearless commitment to truth. I ask each of you to ramp up your efforts as we as a diocese and a nation overcome this evil and eradicate the push to choose abortion. Prayer, speaking out and reaching out are the answer to change one by one, person by person.

Blessed John Paul II encourages us that, “A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer” [Ev, 100].

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