Supporters of legal abortion are like the emperor from the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Emperor's New Clothes," said Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston.
The "vain and proud king" gullibly believed the swindlers who "told the
king that those who could not see the ('magic') cloth were stupid and
unfit for office," said Cardinal O'Malley, chairman of the U.S. bishops'
Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
"The king was quite deceived and paraded through the street of his
capital to receive the ovations of his people. The crowds lined the
streets and applauded when the king passed by. The crowd shouted
compliments and congratulated the king on his magnificent clothing.
Suddenly a little child shouted, 'But he has nothing on at all,'"
Cardinal O'Malley said.
"'The king's new clothes' today are called reproduction rights,
termination of pregnancy, choice, and many other subterfuges that
disguise the reality and the brutality that is abortion," he added. "The
voice of the church is like the child who declares before the world
that the new clothes are a lie, a humbug, a deception. The church with
the candor of a child must call out the uncomfortable truth. Abortion is
wrong. Thou shall not kill."
Cardinal O'Malley made his remarks in the homily of the Jan. 21 Mass
opening the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the
National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The cardinal said he has
been to every vigil since they started 35 years ago.
"When the value of life is compromised or diminished, all life is at
risk," he said. "Human rights, without the right to life, are the king's
new clothes -- it's a fraud, an exercise in self-deception."
Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" ("The Joy
of the Gospel"), "laments the fact that we have done little to
adequately accompany women in very difficult situations," Cardinal
O'Malley said. "The good news is that God never gives up on us. He never
tires of loving us. He never tires of forgiving us, never tires of
giving us another chance. The pro-life movement needs to be the merciful
face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy. Being judgmental or
condemnatory is not part of the gospel of life."
Pregnant women considering an abortion feel "overwhelmed, alone, afraid,
confused," he added. Referencing the Gospel reading of the Mass, the
cardinal added, "We must never allow that woman to perceive the pro-life
movement as a bunch of angry self-righteous Pharisees with stones in
their hands, looking down on her and judging her. We want the woman to
experience the merciful love of Christ."
Shrine staff had the near-Sisyphean task of clearing snow from sidewalks
and roadways, not to mention the dozens of icy steps leading to the
upper church where the Mass was celebrated.
While organizers have come to expect 10,000 each year for the National
Prayer Vigil for Life, the numbers may have been down somewhat. Buses
weren't parked along streets leading to the shrine as they customarily
have. Looking from the shrine's choir loft, the side aisles did not seem
as utterly crammed with people as they typically do, and the occasional
pew had room for one person -- although it may have been taken up by
coats or backpacks.
Bad weather in the Midwest and East -- snow followed by diving
temperatures -- may have kept some away. It kept at least two prelates
away -- Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of
Philadelphia, where there was a record high snowfall of more than 13
inches for Jan. 21. Archbishop Chaput had been scheduled to be the main
celebrant and homilist at the Jan. 22 Mass closing the vigil.
By mid-afternoon Jan. 21, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., for
example announced that numerous parishes throughout the diocese had to
cancel bus trips to March for Life events. Seminarians from St. Joseph's
Seminary in Yonkers, N.Y., also called off their trip to the national
shrine and the march.
Those who did make it to Washington had an easier time traffic-wise as
the capital and its surrounding suburbs were virtually shut down for the
day, with governments and schools closed in anticipation of snow, which
ranged from 3 to 9 nine inches depending on the location.
About 700 were expected to stay overnight in the shrine basement where
there was prayer through the night, with another 1,200 headed to the
athletic facility at The Catholic University of America, next door to
the shrine, to spend the night.
But being prepared for the arctic blast of the March for Life itself was
a different matter. One young woman who said she was from Miami had but
a modest jacket, thin cotton gloves and no hat. She said she hoped her
group would stop by a drugstore before hunkering down in a Baltimore
church to buy some hand-warming packets.