by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
I encourage every member of the archdiocese to offer prayers for the victims of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Please pray also for their families, friends and all members of the Jewish community, as they mourn the loss of these innocent victims of a hate crime. Please also consider reaching out personally to local members of the Jewish community to express sympathy and solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters.
As Catholics, we must oppose vigorously any and all expressions of anti-Semitism, as well as all other forms of racism and religious intolerance. This tragedy was a hate crime and an act of terrorism that strikes at the very foundations of a democratic society. We must renew our commitment to prevent similar future tragedies.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see “Gosnell — The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer.” The movie depicts the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who was charged with more than 300 criminal offenses.
The movie punctures the myth that legalized abortion translates into safety for women. The unsanitary conditions of Gosnell’s clinic were well-known by the Philadelphia Health Department, but were ignored because it was politically unacceptable to make public anything unsavory or negative about abortion.
The movie is a well-made courtroom drama. Though the subject matter is grisly, the movie shelters the viewer from gory images of aborted babies. Nor is it ideologically strident, but, rather, it faithfully presents the courtroom records.
It makes clear that the prosecutors considered themselves pro-choice and took great pains to avoid the trial being used against current public policies that permit legalized abortion.
Nevertheless, the Gosnell case makes clear how extreme and permissive our current laws are regarding abortion. Perhaps the most telling scene is when Gosnell’s attorney calls as a defense witness, a Planned Parenthood physician who has performed more than 30,000 abortions.
His examination of the Planned Parenthood doctor seeks to make the case that the practices in a Planned Parenthood clinic were not substantially different from the accusations made against his client, Dr. Kermit Gosnell.
Catholics have a moral responsibility to vote. If you have not already participated in early voting, please vote on Nov. 6. We also have a responsibility to be well-informed voters. We must allow Catholic moral principles to help guide our vote. There are many issues about which Catholics must have genuine concern.
We must work for generous policies of legal immigration and refugee resettlement that seek to continue America’s tradition of being a safe haven for those fleeing persecution in their homeland as well as better opportunities for their families, while at the same time protecting our borders and national security.
We must support policies that give a preferential option to the poor, helping those who are weakest and most vulnerable.
We must select candidates who work to bring about civility in our public discourse and strive to promote racial and religious harmony, as well as the God-given dignity of every human being.
The life issues always demand a high priority in our discernment as voters. The Kansas Supreme Court appears to be poised to invent a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution, probably imperiling many of the current modest legal limitations on abortion.
At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court may begin at least to allow states more authority to regulate abortion and perhaps even prohibit most abortions. The abortion position of those representing us in state government has never been more important.
Unfortunately, there are no candidates who perfectly represent our moral concerns as Catholics. We must pray for wisdom and prudence as we choose those we empower to represent and govern us.
On the lawn of the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis stands a 14-feet- high, welded stainless steel sculpture by the Polish-American artist Wiktor Szostalo. It features a winged angel with African-American facial features, standing behind three children with Hispanic, Asian and European features, playing a hymn of peace on diverse instruments.
The angel’s wings are actually wind chimes. The statue was donated by Adelaide Schlafly in memory of her late husband Daniel, who was an active Catholic layman who worked tirelessly for the cause of racial justice and peace.
The statue, called Angel of Harmony, also commemorated the 1999 pastoral visit to St. Louis by St. John Paul II. On sides of the base of the sculpture there are quotes from the New Testament, Dr. Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II. The quote from St. John Paul was excerpted from an address he gave in St. Louis on Jan. 27, 1999.
The Holy Father pleaded: “America will remain a beacon of freedom for the world as long as it stands by those moral truths which are the very heart of its historical experience. And so, America if you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace the truth — the truth revealed by God.”