Cardinal Wuerl Celebrates Mass for Life to Promote the Gospel Teaching on the Sanctity of Life

Thursday, April 21, 2016  

WASHINGTON – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, tonight celebrated the Mass for Life for local area college and university students and alumni. The Mass, celebrated at Epiphany Catholic Church in Georgetown put a spotlight on the Church’s Gospel-rooted teaching on the meaning and value of all human life, as well as the important role Catholic institutions play in forming Catholic identity among students and the culture.

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by reminding the faithful that every liturgy, which all gathered are a part of, “speaks to us.” He continued, “At every Mass the Word of God is announced so that we can hear that Word and seek to have it form our lives. What does God say to us? What does the Word of God, announced in this Liturgy, say to us tonight?”

Referencing the first reading, the cardinal said, “Some of that Word is addressed explicitly to you, the young people, the university students who are at the heart of this University Mass for Life. God says to you as he did to the Prophet Jeremiah, ‘Do not say I am too young, I do not know how to speak.’ Do not say, I am not sure how I should voice my support for unborn children. Because the Lord says to the Prophet Jeremiah, ‘See I place my words in your mouth!’”

The cardinal encouraged the students to heed the Word of God that says “do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” There is a powerful political correctness movement, emphasis, perspective, environment and force all around us. “For two generations our culture has been saying it is perfectly alright to kill unborn children, it is perfectly alright to take the life of someone else if that someone is inconvenient to you,” the cardinal stated. “We are here tonight because we share a very different view of life one that recognizes it as a gift from God. Life is something we embrace and cherish.”

Recalling the September visit of the Holy Father to Washington, Cardinal Wuerl described the love Pope Francis radiated, whether he was greeting a head of state or homeless person. “His gestures, his words, his actions in every encounter proclaimed the truth that every life is worth living. As a gift from God, every human life from conception to death is sacred. It is this fundamental truth the Pope so convincingly communicates. Tonight we gather to say that every life is worth living.  In a special way, we are invited to reflect on the ways we can give witness to the dignity of every human life.”

“As a sacred gift entrusted to us, we are responsible for working to protect and preserve this life until it ends naturally, until the time that God alone appoints for our departure. Of course, since the time of Cain that gift of life has been brutally violated and violently taken away,” the cardinal said. “Yet never has the responsibility to protect and preserve life been more difficult than in our day, either in our private personal lives or a social scale, given the assaults on life from widespread murder, war, abortion, suicide, euthanasia, and more, including the prospect of medicalized death from those whose profession exists to help save life, not take it.”

The cardinal continued, “Pope Francis has spoken often about a widespread cultural mentality that enslaves the hearts of so many today, a mindset where what is valued the least is human life, especially if the person is physically or socially weaker. That is why concern for human life in its totality is a real priority for the Church, he told a group of healthcare providers. There is a need to unreservedly say ‘yes’ to life, he said, especially with respect to the most vulnerable – the disabled, the sick, the newborn, children, the elderly, ‘even if he is ill or at the end of his days, [he] bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the ‘culture of waste’ suggests! They cannot be thrown away!’”

Cardinal Wuerl encouraged the faithful present not to be deceived by “the politically correct rhetoric that uses words to hide the true meaning. Those that favor killing the unborn child often speak of, ‘the product of conception’ as opposed to ‘the unborn child.’ They speak about ‘facilitating the conclusion of the life cycle’ instead of ‘assisting a suicide.’ So it is with choice. When you use the word ‘choice’ you have to complete the sentence. What is it you choose?”

The word ‘choice’ is a smokescreen behind which those killing unborn children take refuge. Every chance you get, blow that smoke away,” said the cardinal. “Do not ever be convinced by the rhetoric of liberation that killing unborn, innocent children is in any way similar to the great social justice struggles that our nation has faced – many times enlightened by the Church’s social teaching.  Whether it was the fight against slavery, racial discrimination, or unjust working conditions, the Church’s proclamation of the dignity of all human life was the center.”

Further, he encouraged, “Do not let anyone reduce for you the greatness of the American dream to the level of free contraceptives. To realize, respect and foster human life, or any form of goodness, is to glorify the Creator of all persons and to honor his transcendent and creative goodness.”

The cardinal’s homily concluded with a story about visiting a mission effort in South America, which included a maternity hospital. “In the special section was a two-day old baby whose mother had left him with the sisters because she was not able to care for the baby,” the cardinal remembered. “She said she hoped the sisters would find a good home for the infant. A sister said to me, ‘You can pick up the baby. You will not hurt it. He is not that fragile.’”

“It was only when I went to put the baby back into its little crib that I realized how strong even an infant’s grip can be. He had latched on to my finger and was holding on tightly,” Cardinal Wuerl recalled. “It was as if he was saying, ‘Please, do not let me go. Please, do not let me alone. Please, somebody care for me.’”

“My brothers and sisters, what you are doing this evening is responding to the call of many, many unborn children. Please, be there for me. Please, do not let me go. Please, speak up for me. May God bless you and remember what the Lord said to you through the Prophet Jeremiah, ‘To whomever I send you, you shall go and you shall speak.’”

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The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

Chieko Noguchi
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