Marching to Restore the Right to Life to Our Youngest Neighbors during the Week of Christian Unity is Prophetic
He regularly claims to hear the cry of the poor, yet he fails to hear the cries of those whom Blessed Teresa of Calcutta properly called the "poorest of the poor", our first neighbors in the womb.
It is noteworthy that in the 40 years since the evil Supreme Court decisions in Roe and Doe were issued some unexpected good has come to Christians involved in this great human rights struggle. In our insistence that the positive law recognize what the Natural Law demands, that these children have a right to life, Christians separated from one another by divisions in the Body of Christ have now found one another. I have long referred to this fact as the silver lining in the dark cloud of the culture of death.
That is why I believe it is no accident that the March for Life always falls within the National Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Our human rights struggle has been the most fruitful and authentic form of ecumenism the world has ever witnessed; what I call trench ecumenism. We found one another in our common concern for the poorest of the poor.
The Prayer of Jesus echoes in a new missionary age: "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:20-23)
There is a reciprocal relationship revealed in those words of the Savior. The world will believe our gospel when we demonstrate our own unity of love with one another. The prayer of the Son of God will be answered; the only question is how soon it will happen. We hasten that day when we choose to pray together and work with one another in this great human rights struggle.
That is the message that the great apostle Paul proclaimed to the Ephesians: "Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all, and in all." Ephesians 4: 1-6
Paul was the apostle of unity between the early Jewish and Gentile believers who were deeply divided. He knew the corrosive effect of divisions within the Body of Christ. We will march on the day when the Catholic Church, in her liturgy, commemorates his conversion to Jesus Christ.
The God who is One, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, places the impulse toward Christian unity in our hearts. In his Encyclical letter on Christian unity (May They Be One, 1995), Blessed John Paul II underscored the language of communion as the preferred vocabulary between Christians not yet one:
"It happens for example that, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, Christians of one confession no longer consider other Christians as enemies or strangers but see them as brothers and sisters. Again, the very expression 'separated brethren' tends to be replaced today by expressions which more readily evoke the deep communion linked to the baptismal character which the Spirit fosters in spite of historical and canonical divisions. Today we speak of "other Christians", "others who have received Baptism", and "Christians of other Communities"(Par. 42)
The authentic ecumenical mission was at the heart of John Paul's pontificate and is at the heart of Pope Benedict's. I remember that day, April 20, 2005, when the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI gave his first message at the end of a Mass he had concelebrated with the members of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel. He signaled his mission with these words:
"Nourished and sustained by the Eucharist, Catholics cannot but feel encouraged to strive for the full unity for which Christ expressed so ardent a hope in the Upper Room. The Successor of Peter knows that he must make himself especially responsible for his Divine Master's supreme aspiration. Indeed, he is entrusted with the task of strengthening his brethren (cf. Luke 22: 32).
"With full awareness, therefore, at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome which Peter bathed in his blood, Peter's current Successor takes on as his primary task the duty to work tirelessly to rebuild the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, his impelling duty."
The authentic ecumenical mission of restoring the full and visible unity of the Church has been the beating heart of Pope Benedict's years of service in the Chair of St Peter. That is because it reflects Heart of the Lord. To be a faithful Christian should mean to long for our full communion. Blessed John Paul called all of the faithful to carry forward the task of ecumenism with a practical and spiritual urgency in that letter on Christian Unity:
"Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialogue. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels: pastoral, cultural and social, as well as that of witnessing to the Gospel message. Cooperation among all Christians vividly expresses that bond which already unites them, and it sets in clearer relief the features of Christ the Servant."
"This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself. Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith."
"Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved."
Throughout the West, Christians, Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic, are now enrolled in a school of ecumenism as we make common cause to end the killing of our youngest neighbors. We have been thrown together in a common defense of life in a western culture which has lost its moral compass. Our Marching together for Life is becoming a road to our unity and a sign of our growing communion.
Come, let us lock arms together again and offer our voice for those who have none. Marching to Restore the Right to Life to Our Youngest Neighbors during the Week of Christian Unity is Prophetic. The Killing will end. The divisions among Christians will be healed.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Pro-Life, 40 years, Roe v Wade, Doe v Bolton, March, March for Life, Pope Benedict XVI, Blessed john Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, unity, week of Christian unity, Deacon Keith Fournier
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