by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — The incoming chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops won’t have to travel far to celebrate the annual archdiocesan Respect Life Month Mass.
Our own Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, who will begin serving his three-year term in November, will be the main celebrant and homilist at the Mass.
The archbishop was elected chairman by his fellow bishops in November 2017 after more than 30 years of pro-life advocacy.
The Mass will be held at noon on Oct. 21 at Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood. There will be a light reception following the Mass. All Curé parishioners and archdiocesan Catholics active in the pro-life movement are encouraged to attend.
Catholics across the nation observe Respect Life Month with Masses on Respect Life Sunday, Oct. 7, or on other weekends in October.
This year’s theme for the month, and for the USCCB Respect Life Program for the coming year, is: “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent.”
Although the observance of Respect Life Month was instituted by the USCCB 46 years ago, this is only the second time there has been one officially designated opening Mass for Respect Life Month in the archdiocese. The first was last year.
Archbishop Naumann steps into the chairmanship at a critical time in the history of the pro-life movement, especially with the addition of a new U.S. Supreme Court justice.
“I think it would be safe to say we are closer than ever, legally speaking, to seeing Roe v. Wade (the 1973 high court decision legalizing abortion) overturned,” said Allison Donohue, the former archdiocesan pro-life consultant.
“Overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn’t mean that abortion would be immediately illegal in any state,” said Donohue. “[The issue] would go back to the states, and we’ll have pretty hefty battles to fight.
“But it would be a step in the right direction.”
The greatest pro-life task, however, is not to be found in changing the law, but in changing hearts and minds. And there are other pro-life issues to deal with as well, such as physician-assisted suicide.
“It’s a matter of changing the culture’s mentality, even if the law changes,” said Donohue. “We’ll be fighting a different kind of battle if the law is overturned. There will still be a whole lot of other things that need to be accomplished.”