by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
The loss of the “Value Them Both” amendment on Aug. 2 was a devastating defeat for those who care about the lives of preborn children and the harm abortion inflicts on mothers, fathers and society.
Opponents of “Value Them Both,” assisted by an overwhelmingly sympathetic secular press, ran an effective campaign of misinformation fostering confusion and fear.
Sadly, the defeat of “Value Them Both” means there is little in the area of public policy that we can do in the foreseeable future to protect women and children from the abortion industry.
I suspect that as taxpayers are coerced to fund abortion, we see the dramatic increase in the numbers of pregnant mothers from other states coming to Kansas for abortions and the current limitations on the abortion industry are ruled unconstitutional, many Kansans will experience buyers’ remorse.
I thank the thousands of “Value Them Both” volunteers, many of them young adults, who worked tirelessly making phone calls and knocking on more than 500,000 doors. I am grateful to the many generous donors who made sacrificial gifts to our special Respect Life Fund, in part to help finance educational messages in support of “Value Them Both.”
I thank our priests, deacons and lay leaders who worked tirelessly to educate parishioners about the importance of “Value Them Both.”
I was proud and edified to be part of the “Value Them Both” coalition that included many other faith-based groups as well as secular organizations, including the Lutheran Missouri Synod, the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists, Dr. James Dobson, the Family Research Council, Democrats for Life, 200-plus Kansas medical and mental health professionals, Concerned Women for America of Kansas and Kansas Family Voice.
I am grateful to all those who put up “Value Them Both” yard signs — and when they were stolen or defaced by our opponents, asked for another.
I am proud of our pastors and parishioners who, discovering their churches had been vandalized, turned out that very day to put things right. I am proud of the faithful who, educated in the teachings of our faith, were committed to exercise their moral obligation to protect the fundamental human right to life.
For me personally, it has been a time of soul-searching. I have pondered and prayed about what I could have done differently as a leader that could have yielded a better result. I also am praying for all those who worked very hard, that they not grow discouraged. Though we were hoping for a different outcome, your labor has not been in vain.
I am praying for those deeply wounded by abortion, who have had an abortion or encouraged someone else to have an abortion and now deeply regret it, that you will take advantage of our postabortion healing ministries.
Finally, I am praying for the opponents of “Value Them Both.” They, too, have been fashioned in the divine image and are of such worth in God’s eyes that Jesus gave his life on Calvary for them.
How dark and bleak your life experience, if your passion is to protect a so-called right to kill your own child? We must ask the God of mercy to empower us with the love and joy of his Gospel to pierce the darkness of the culture of death that envelops the hearts of so many of our brothers and sisters.
Advocacy for public policies that respect the life and dignity of the human person is just one component of the Catholic Church’s pastoral plan to build a culture of life. We must direct our energy and efforts to the other elements of the plan, namely 1) education; 2) abortion alternatives; and 3) prayer.
First, we must equip ourselves better to be able to educate others. The results of the “Value Them Both” election make even clearer the importance of the church’s respect life educational efforts. Most education happens through one-on-one conversation with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We must strive to reach minds and touch hearts to build a broader consensus supporting the sanctity of human life.
We must work to dispel misinformation from the secular media. For example, claims that doctors were not providing treatment for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and conditions that threaten the life of a pregnant mother because they feared prosecution, were destructive to the passage of “Value Them Both.” Effective and ethical treatment for all of these conditions are available that do not involve the direct killing of the child.
I highly recommend the book, “Tearing Us Apart — How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing,” co-authored by Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis, that reveals how abortion not only destroys the life of the unborn child, but also harms women, families, medicine, the rule of law, the democratic process and the culture. They also make the case that abortion promotes discrimination based on race, gender, disabilities and socioeconomic status.
Secondly, the loss of “Value Them Both” highlights the importance of our pastoral efforts to surround every woman experiencing a difficult or untimely pregnancy with a community of love and support.
Our pregnancy resource centers and crisis pregnancy clinics have been doing this for decades. Women and children that we are unable to protect by law from the abortion industry we can rescue with love. I encourage each of you to consider how you might support better local pregnancy resource centers by volunteering and/or making a financial donation to these life-saving ministries.
Two years ago, the Catholic bishops of the United States launched “Walking with Moms in Need,” an initiative to better communicate and resource the services already available in dioceses and parishes. Walking with Moms is also designed to identify gaps in current services and to develop a plan to address them.
Thirdly, the defeat of “Value Them Both” must drive us to our knees. Prayer must be the foundation of all our apostolic activities. Prayer is not primarily us telling God what we think Our Lord should do. Prayer is meant to be a conversation with God.
If we are going to advance the culture of life in this difficult societal environment, then we must attune our souls to listen to God’s voice. Our Catholic spiritual tradition gives us a rich array of prayer resources, e.g., frequent participation in Mass and reception of holy Communion, eucharistic adoration, meditation upon the word of God, the daily praying of the rosary, frequent sacramental confession, etc.
As Christians, we are never without reasons for hope and causes for joy. The Scriptures remind us that God makes everything work for the good of those who love him, especially when we encounter adversities. Our job is to trust in God’s love and persevere in seeking to do his will.
My episcopal motto — Life Will Be Victorious — does not imply that we will win elections. What it does mean is that Jesus has already won the victory and you and I are privileged to participate in its unfolding! We must never yield to discouragement, much less despair.
When we follow Jesus faithfully, we become witnesses of true love and joy. When we live the Gospel faithfully, it is attractive and contagious. The Gospel of Jesus is the antidote to the culture of death!