Browsing Pastor's Corner

Personally, opposed but…

Mar 19, 2019

In January the New York State Legislature enacted what it called the “Reproductive Health Act”. That title is really a misnomer for a new law that would continue legal abortion in New York State should a more anti-abortion US Supreme Court majority decide to overturn the Roe V Wade decision. In an article in the Jesuit magazine America, Sam Sawyer, SJ, explains the provisions of the law. The law essentially removes any restrictions on abortion from the New York State Penal Code. The New York law would continue to allow unrestricted abortions up to the 24th week of a pregnancy, when there is the absence of fetal viability or (and this is the kicker) to “protect the patient’s life or health.” This last criterion is based on the abortion practitioners “reasonable and good faith professional judgement”. It does not impose any objective medical standard for making such a decision. In other words, although it might be rare, it would allow an abortion to be performed right up to a baby’s due date.

The law also does not provide any “born alive” restrictions to protect a baby delivered alive during a late term abortion. The law prohibits the state from imposing any form of regulation that would discriminate against the right to an abortion. Many Catholic and other anti-abortion groups are concerned this stipulation would remove conscientious objection provisions that allow anti- abortion doctors, nurses or hospitals opposed to abortion from being excused from assisting in an abortion.

The law is alarming to opponents of abortion here in Massachusetts because our state legislature, which is heavily weighted with pro-abortion members could take the same action in anticipation of a possible reversal of Roe V. Wade. According to a Gallup Poll taken last year Americans are still almost evenly divided between people with pro and anti-abortion opinions. This almost even divide has changed little over the years since abortion was legalized. However, when we look closely at the poll results only about a quarter of Americans favor unrestricted abortion. The majority of poll respondents who say they favor abortion limit that approval to cases of rape, incest or danger to the health of the mother. They also have a narrow interpretation of what constitutes a danger to the health of the mother. Massachusetts abortion opponents must be very alert regarding this issue in the months to come.

The New York law was supported by Gov. Andrew Cuomo who self identifies as a Catholic. He and his father, the late New York Governor Mario Cuomo, like many Catholic politicians shamelessly have used the argument that while they were personally opposed to abortion, they couldn’t impose their religious beliefs on the general public. Opposition to abortion is not trying to impose religious beliefs.

In an article also in America Magazine, Kenneth L. Woodward, retired Religion Editor for Newsweek Magazine, commented on this untenable position. Woodward refutes the Cuomos’ argument by pointing out that the Catholic Church’s and various other religious groups’ opposition to abortion is not base on religious grounds. It is not based on revelation from scripture but natural law. Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature, endowed by nature and that these can be understood universally through human reason. Traditionally Christians believe God to be the source of this law. Other religions can believe it has another transcendent source. Non-believers can attribute natural law to no particular source. However, the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence acknowledged that natural law should be the driving force for good governance. They declared that life, liberty and the pursuit are basic natural rights to be protected by good government.

Another foolish argument we often hear from politicians and others trying to support their pro-abortion stance is that we can’t actually determine when life begins. That runs counter to science. Never in history has a male sperm and a female’s egg ever formed a zygote that grew into another species of animal. It has never grown into vegetable matter either. It is purely unscientific to claim that a fetus in the womb of its mother is not fully human.

It is critical that Catholic citizens remember these facts about abortion. We must remind all our legislative representatives Catholic and Non-Catholic of these facts when the issue of the natural right to life is debated. Always remind them that life is our most basic right.

Celebrating the Season of Lent
We’re about to enter the third week of Lent our forty-day retreat preparing every Catholic to spiritually celebrate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ during the Easter Triduum. It is meant to be a time where Catholics reflect on how God is calling each member of the Body of Christ to become more faithful missionary disciples. During Lent we reflect on how Jesus is calling us to come to know him more faithfully and encourage others to do the same.

Lent is a penitential season where we practice the disciplines of fasting, almsgiving and prayer to help us be more aware of the needs of the poor and our need to imitate the example of Jesus Christ more fully. The parish is offering several opportunities to put the Lenten disciples into action:

Lenten Folders-Parishioners received a Lenten Folder before Lent began. We ask you to put aside a quarter a day for a total of $10 over the entire Lenten season. Your donation will be combined with those of other parishioners’ and sent to Food for the Poor to build a modest home for a family in Haiti. The cost of a home is $3,600. Last year parishioners donated $4,000. A poster with a picture of the Montrevil Family of Plaine Du Nord, Haiti in front of the house we built for them is at the front of the church by the baptistry. Come take a look. How about building two homes this year? Additional Lenten folders are available to be picked up at the back of the church.

Friday Program-On the Friday afternoons of Lent we recite the devotion of the Stations of the Cross in the Church at 4:30PM. Each week a different parish ministry will lead the recitation of the Stations. The version of the Stations used will reflect the theme of their work. This Friday the Stations will be led by members of the Holy Redeemer Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They will be leading a set of Social Justice Stations of the Cross. Praying the Stations usually lasts about thirty minutes. After the Stations you are invited to share a simple supper of soup, bread and beverage. Following the meal, a short twenty to thirty-minute presentation of a segment of Bishop Robert Barron’s program, Priest, Prophet, King, will be offered. This week’s presentation is entitled, “Adoration”. Come join us for all or any part of the program.

Cape Cod-A Nation of Immigrants, Building Communities of Welcome”
No issue is gripping our national conscientiousness more today than the immigration issue. To try to foster a greater understanding of this topic the Faith Community Nursing Program at St. Peter’s Church, 11 Prince Street, Provincetown is sponsoring a panel discussion on the issue, Sunday. March 31, 2019, at 6:00 PM. Panelists are Rev. Richard D. Wilson, Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Fall River, G. Thomas Ryan, Chair of the Migrant and Refugee Committee of the Cape Cod Council of Churches and Collin Mickle an immigration lawyer with the Community Action Committee Cape and The Islands. For more information call: Eileen Cabral at 508-487-1630.

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