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Catholic Voice
  January 22, 2018   •   VOL. 56, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Bishop's Column

Defend innocent life

Most Rev.
Michael C. Barber, SJ

Your baby has fingernails!

Bishop Robert Barron in his new book "To Light a Fire on the Earth," reflects on the movie, "Juno."

"The main character goes to a clinic for an abortion. She meets a protest, who happens to be one of her high school classmates, and the young woman says, 'Your baby has fingernails!' The next scene shows people in the waiting room of the clinic drumming their fingernails, examining their fingernails, cleaning their fingernails — and then Juno decides not to have the abortion and she abruptly leaves."

There are many arguments we can make in favor of life, for human rights for the child in the womb, concern for the most innocent and neglected people in our society, the toll abortion takes on the mother — but the most convincing argument for me is when I meet a young person who says to me "My mother was going to have an abortion, and then changed her mind at the last minute. Otherwise I would not be here." Thank God you are here! I say.

Children in the womb are real people. Human beings are created by God "with inalienable rights" — because they are God-given rights. So are slaves, Jews, immigrants, people of color, the elderly, the handicapped — all groups who were told—or are currently being told—by one government or another, that they are not full human beings. And the most basic human right is the right to be allowed to live.

I believe in the "Seamless Garment" of Catholic Social Teaching which links the Right to Life with health care, access to education, affordable housing, opposition to the death penalty, justice for immigrants, shelter for victims of human trafficking, the right to a living wage.

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Yes, all of these are elements of Catholic Social Teaching, and they are all interconnected. However, you can't enjoy an affordable house or earn a living wage if you are not alive to begin with. We as Catholics must defend innocent life, life from the first moment of conception to a natural death, or we cannot be credible proponents of all the other social justice issues that occur between life and death.

Martin Luther King had a dream. Thank God we have lived to see his dream move toward reality in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the election of the first African American president of the USA.

I have a dream too. That all children in the womb will be given the right to live. That weak and suffering elderly persons will be loved and supported in their aging process and protected from physician-assisted suicide. That we will welcome today's immigrants to our country in the same way our grandparents and great-grandparents were welcomed.

If you want to do something and not stand by and watch, please join me at the Vigil Mass for Life at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 at St. Dominic's Church, San Francisco; at the Walk for Life Mass with Archbishop Cordileone on Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 27 at St. Mary's Cathedral San Francisco. The major event is the West Coast Walk for Life beginning at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 27 at San Francisco Civic Center Plaza.

My friend Pastor Walter Hoye will be leading a Standing Up 4 Life walk at noon Jan. 26 at the Oakland City Hall Plaza. There are other local events planned in the East Bay you can discover by looking on Page 5.

We recently celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas — that most beautiful and tender of feasts. Just as we see God when we gaze upon the Holy Infant in the crib, so do we see the divine in the "smallest and most vulnerable" around us now, beginning with children in their mother's wombs.

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