“A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world.” Saint Pope John Paul II called for this prayer in his great encyclical letter “Evangelium Vitae”.
The fulfilment of this request happens in a very special way during Lent, as people throughout the world gather outside abortion facilities in their local communities to pray for an end to abortion and to stand in witness to the grave crime that happens every day in our midst.
While prayer is at the very heart of the 40 Days for Life vigils, those who organise and participate also know that we must be beacons of hope – offering support and practical help to those women who are tempted to abortion, being there for mothers, fathers, grandparents and siblings who must deal with the wound abortion has made in their hearts, and by loving abortion workers who may be blinded to the evil they participate in each day.
To begin the Auckland 40 Days for Life vigil which begins Wednesday 14th February and concludes on Sunday 25th March 2018, a special Mass for Life was held in the St Therese Parish Church of Three Kings.
Father Leo Doyle, a long-time supporter of the work of Family Life International NZ, gave a homily in which he condemned the evil of abortion and asked everyone present to take action. The following text is his homily.
Homily of Father Leo Doyle at the Mass for Life
Tuesday 13th February, 2018
St Therese Catholic Church, Three Kings, Auckland, New Zealand
It is said that a measure of any society’s degree of civilisation is the manner in which it looks after its most vulnerable members. These are its unborn children, and young children, its sick, and particularly its mentally ill, and its elderly.
If that measure of civilisation is indeed valid, and I believe it is, then the society in which we are living today is not only uncivilised, but becoming more barbaric.
A feature of life in New Zealand today is the confusion about the ways and means of resolving some of our most pressing problems. Rising above all other problems and concerns are the most fundamental of all human rights and that is the right to live. The Fifth Commandment; “thou shall not kill.” And yet many thousands of children will be deliberately killed each year before birth. Clearly it is not dealing with abortion for the so-called hard cases, but as a means of resolving various social and economic problems.
If there is any prospect of preserving respect for the sanctity of human life, then it is essential that steps be taken to strengthen this country’s laws to protect our unborn. And that is most unlikely. And the mass destruction of our future New Zealanders will continue unchecked into the foreseeable future.
New Zealand’s Royal Commission on Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion studied this issue with depth and had this to say in the Report:
From a biological point of view there is no argument as to when human life begins.
Evidence was given by eminent scientists from all over the world. None of them suggested that human life begins at any time other than at conception.
Sir William Liley, this country’s world renowned father of the specialty of perinatal medicines who developed blood transfusions for the unborn while still in the mother’s womb, described the unborn in these terms:
We know that the unborn child moves with a delightful easy grace in his buoyant world, that foetal comfort determines foetal position. He is responsible to pain and touch and cold and sound and light. He drinks the fluid that surrounds him, more of it if it is sweetened, less if it is given an unpleasant taste. He get hiccups and sucks his thumb. He wakes and sleeps. He gets bored with repetitive signals but can be taught to be alerted by a first signal for a second different one…
Respect for human life is an absolute and basic principle.
The impact of abortion and euthanasia on family life can be far reaching, most profound. A husband’s consent is not required for his wife to have an abortion. A single girl under the age of sixteen is able to have an abortion without the consent of her parents, and even without their knowledge. Can you imagine a young girl of tender years trying to deal with such an experience without the care and love of those close to her?
For many women there will be years of deep regret because abortion is so final – it cannot be undone.
It is clear New Zealand is not dealing only with the rather hard cases. We are dealing with a situation very close to abortion on demand.
Although the laws prohibit such practices there are some doctors who are exploiting our laws and as a result any expectant mother who chooses to visit the right doctor is able to have her pregnancy terminated for reasons that have nothing to do with serious danger to her health.
The question that needs to be asked today is: what can we do about it? What can we do about the threat it poses to those fundamental values which traditionally have been part of our society?
First we must pray. Pray for the poverty of a society that is increasingly attracted to violent solutions to its social problems. When Mother Teresa was asked if abortion should be seen as a solution to the problems of poverty and overpopulation in India, she responded simply and clearly: “No. Poverty is when you want to kill a tiny child so that you can live as you like.”
Speak about this evil. Mother Teresa kept reminding the world of the horrible holocaust of abortion. She sent a taped message to the Rally for Life in London a few years ago. She said:
Jesus has asked us to make a sacrifice. God himself became a little child, to tell us God is love. God used the unborn child to proclaim his love. Today such a child is a target for murderers. I appeal to young people to love one another with a pure heart and a pure body, in the bonds of marriage. Grow in holiness. Children are innocent and created in God’s image. Children are the greatest gift to the world and to the family.
I will finish on a happy note. In the current New Zealand Catholic you will note that President Trump is pro-life. He said “every unborn child is a precious gift from God.” And the House Speaker, Paul Ryan “Thank God for giving us a pro-life President in the White House.”