Posts Tagged ‘abortion’

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

With the Hobby Lobby suit going on in the Supreme Court, there is a great deal of “The Pill” in the news. It is certainly a hot topic, with statistics, medical information and lots of personal opinions coming at us left and right. Environmentalists and scientists have been warning us for years that women’s use of artificial hormonal birth control is not a private matter. In fact, it has worldwide effects. Not only are there moral implications regarding the use of artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy, but what about the moral implications of using a drug that can cause cancer in others, or change the ecosystem?

Studies show that birth control pills have a negative effect on the environment, and primarily the water system. Scientists report that “many decades of research have shown that when released into the environment, a group of hormones known as estrogens, both synthetic and naturally occurring, can have a serious influence on wildlife. This includes the development of intersex characteristics in male fish, which diminishes fertility and fecundity.”[1] Water treatment plants are not able to break down the hormones excreted by women who are using the Pill: High estrogen levels have been found in rivers in Paris, and studies seem to show that in some places the levels of estrogen found in waterways are high enough to affect human health.[2]

Prescription NeededHere’s a fascinating study that questions the link between prostate cancer in men and the Pill. David Margel and Neil Fleshner, of the University of Toronto in Ontario, looked at contraceptive pill usage and incidence of prostate cancer in 88 countries around the world. In every case, they found a significant correlation between the two.[3] Although studies continue to look at various possibilities, and findings are inconclusive, the scientists consider this a valid and strong component in the mystery of the increase in prostate cancer; the fact is that estrogen-like chemicals pass into the urine and ultimately make their way into the water supply.

There are consistent reports that show that the environment and human health are being detrimentally affected by women’s use of chemical contraceptives, which has environmentalists around the world searching for solutions. If findings continue to reveal these links, govern­ments will need to step in to enact laws and regulations to protect innocent citizens and future generations.

The Catholic Church has spoken consistently on the need to protect and care for creation, as it is God’s gift. Pope John Paul II stated: “Christians, in particular, realize that their responsibility within creation and their duty towards nature and the Creator are an essential part of their faith.”[4] There is a moral responsibility to care for God’s creation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “man’s dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.”[5]

[1] Susan Jobling and Richard Owen, “Ethinyl Oestradiol in the Aquatic Environment,” in Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation (Copenhagen, Denmark: Europa Environment Agency, 2013), 279.

[2] Wynne Parry, “Water Pollution Caused by Birth Control Poses Dilemma,” Live Science, May 23, 2012; and “7 Surprising Facts about the Pill,” Live Science, June 21, 2011.

[3] David Margel and Neil E. Fleshner, “Oral Contraceptive Use Is Associated with Prostate Cancer: An Ecological Study,” BJM Open 1.2 (2011), http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/1/2/e000311.full.

[4] John Paul II, Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace (January 1, 1990), n. 15.

[5] Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2415.

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By: Deacon Marques Silva

Last week was the March for Life. The day after, I read a blog quote that said:

It’s impossible to be at the March and not hear the comparison between abortion and slavery. But abortion is not slavery. Both are/were deeply polarizing issues, and both inspired massive movements to outlaw them. But slavery was a deliberate attempt to monetize a class of people slaveholders considered equivalent to animals. It was a systemic, calculated, and brutal.

M4L2014RussellSenateblgbalconyI would submit that this is a sophmoric, if not irresponsible, statement – especially due to the youthful readers that it influences (James 3:1). Regrettably, “The court decisions on slavery vs. abortion demonstrate an equivalent denial of personhood for two different categories of human beings, slaves and unborn children.”[1] The fact remains that abortion is a very lucrative money-maker. I dare to say that Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, should be considered a subject matter expert as an international civil rights leader who is quoted as saying:

How can the “Dream” survive if we murder the children? Every aborted baby is like a slave in the womb of his or her mother. The mother decides his or her fate. (Emphasis mine)

It is callous and inhuman not to see that both slaves and the pre-born share the same discriminatory qualities by being depersonalized, used for profit, and experiencing the same systematic, calculated and brutal fate. I would be open to agreeing with the author if he was willing to admit that the pre-born and yes, partially-born (in ages past we called partial-birth abortion infanticide) that this is worse than slavery. This is genocide.feet-in-chains

Just as a sidebar, the Church finds all forms of slavery just as reprehensible. There is no excuse for the enslavement of a people for any reason; whether it be the Africans of our own colonial heritage, immigrant labors (legal or otherwise) and most recently, sexual human trafficking which is not just an international issue but equally a domestic problem run by gangs. As Cardinal O’Malley is quoted in the Boston Herald:

For us, life is at the very center of our social teachings…When the state begins to decide who is worthy of living and who isn’t, all human rights are put in jeopardy, but the voice of the church is very clear. And we’re not just saying that life is precious in the womb but life is precious when someone has Alzheimer’s when someone has AIDS when someone is poor when someone has mental illness. Their humanity is not diminished – and they have a claim on our love and on our services. So the church’s position is a very consistent one. It is a consistent life ethic.[2]

In a country and society that prides itself on its rationalism and fact-based approach to – well, everything, urban myths abound around the subject of abortion. Again, many in the mental health field have suggested that abortion is primarily aimed at the poor who have no other resources and thus, out of fear, procure an abortion. In fact, the statistics bear that out:

Between 2001 and 2008, already large disparities in unintended pregnancy by income level increased. The national unintended pregnancy rate in 2008 was 54 per 1,000 women aged 15–44, meaning that about 5% of women of reproductive age have an unplanned pregnancy each year. Among poor women, however, the rate of unintended pregnancy was more than five times that of women with an income of at least 200% of the federal poverty level (137 vs. 26 per 1,000 women 15–44). The recession and shifts in population demographics may be contributing factors…[3]

The numbers are now demonstrating that there has been a substantial increased use of abortion by Blacks and Hispanics below the federal poverty line. The only caveat I would add is the closest generator of reliable data is provided by the Guttmacher Institute – the former research affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Which brings me to my point. Even the Guttmacher research, in providing data on reasons for abortion, contradicts this common assertion that most abortions are procured due to a lack of income and/or resources. In fact it says, 69.5 percent are procured for a variety of convenience reasons, 23 percent out of affordability, 7 percent for health issues (mother and/or child), and 0.5 percent are rape victims.[4]

All disordered decisions are a result of fear. And yet, most decisions do not involve the violent death of the most  defenseless and innocent among us. That being said, the author of the blog did touch on an issue that has some traction to it. He said that the March for Life it is rather “safe”. For many, we would rather protest, sign petitions and march than get our hands dirty and jump into the trenches. Mr. John Zmirak treats this beautifully in his blog post, Our Hot, Sexy Culture: Welcome to the Burn Ward which reviews a current movie. “Gimme Shelter”. It is not that the march is safe but rather, it should be a jump point to battle the underlying causes that result in abortion.

I also feel the need to comment that I think the 0.5 percent of women who report they were forced into abortion is way too low.[5] For many abortion is not about a choice but un-choice[6]. I am privileged to work with Ms. Sarah LaPierre and her team at the Arlington diocese Gabriel Project and Project Rachel. These ministries are among a number of the best kept secrets in the diocese, and they shouldn’t be. They have exposed me to many amazing and courageous post-abortive and single-mother women who have taught and clearly demonstrated to me, that forced abortions are far more common than we are willing to admit or report.

Abortion is slavery. Abortion is genocide. Abortion is legal and reveals the malignant tumor that is festering in the soul of America. I would like, over the next year, to see the mental health field admit their complicity in this human rights crime. It is neither a way to “cull the welfare rolls,”[7] nor a necessity answering the claim that “If we banned abortion outright, there is no way we could handle the influx of children needing homes, assuming the parent chose to not raise his or her child.” What needs to change is a throwaway and convenience society and government that wants quick solutions for long-term investments: people. Abortion is not just slavery of the unborn for commercial financial gain; it enslaves the culture that allows it.

We need to assist the poorest of the poor – I have worked with and led organizations serving them at the domestic and international level. But if we refuse to recognize the hierarchy of goods, a reasoned approach to who is the most innocent and defenseless, and what constitutes personhood and sexuality, then we will always compromise and end up loving things and using people – even with the best of intentions.

[1] “Slavery Compared to Abortion,” Illinois Right to Life Committee, January 25, 2014, accessed January 25, 2014, http://www.illinoisrighttolife.org/SlaveryAbortion.htm.

[2] Jessica Heslam, “Full Interview with Cardianl O’Malley,” BostonHerald.com, January 21, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/01/full_interview_with_cardinal_o_malley.

[3] “Unintended Pregnancy Remains a Persistent Problem in the United States,” Guttmacher Institute, January 29, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.guttmacher.org/.

[4] L.B. Finer et al., “Reasons U.S. Women Have Abortions: Quantitative and Qualitative Perspectives,” Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37 (2005):110-118 (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/psrh/full/3711005.pdf; visited March 19, 2009).

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Why Is Abortion the Unchoice?,” Abortion is the unchoice, January 29, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.theunchoice.com/intro.htm.

[7] John Zmirak, “Our Hot, Sexy Culture: Welcome to the Burn Ward,” Aleteia, January 28, 2014, accessed January 29, 2014, http://www.aleteia.org/en/society/article/our-hot-sexy-culture-welcome-to-the-burn-ward-5259862367797248?.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Yesterday, I was actually perspiring. However, the weather changed so rapidly that I spent most of this morning angry that the 40th March for Life is tomorrow, after a “snow storm” and on a day with a projected high of 15 degrees, which we all know means it will feel like zero. I will confess I even whined, “Why is God doing this to us?” Now, thousands will not come to the March for Life. Of course, even with smaller numbers, the events will still go on. The beautiful Mass for Human Life will be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Arlington Diocese will host the Life is VERY Good night of prayer tonight at the Patriot Center, with a concert with Matt Maher and an hour of Adoration. The crowd will not be at the expected capacity of 8500, but it will be full of love, life and prayer. Tomorrow morning there will be three rallies and Masses for teens at the Verizon Center, D.C. Armory, and the Patriot Center. Each venue was sold out, expecting to host 40,000 youth from around the nation. The rally at the March for Life will be wonderful, and the crowds will still be impressive.

March for LifeOf course, God is not to blame for bad weather. On the bright side, maybe those who do come will impress the media, and they will give coverage to the March for Life, which has been profoundly missing from media outlets for years. The March for Life will happen regardless of the numbers. And in fact, maybe the sacrifices made by the thousands who will not be able to attend, and the thousands who will brave the bitter cold, is the very thing that will save a child from being aborted, stop a mother and father from making the worst decision of their lives, and cause hearts to be thawed, and changed, that laws in our nation will protect human life.

Today at Mass, the homilist reminded us that we do not know how God works, and that we must trust that the intentions of our hearts, our will for the good, is His very desire. Of course, in my opinion, it should be His desire to have hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million, come to the 40th March for Life. The success of record crowds at Masses and rallies throughout the area would impress the nation, solve all our problems, and change the world!

The notion that God might have other desires and plans that do not make sense to me reminded me of the story of Gideon’s Army. The Lord told Gideon he had too many men to fight (not the typical strategy for winning battles), because should they win, they would consider the victory a success of their power, not God’s. And so God ordered Gideon to shrink his army from 22,000 to 300 men. Thus, the glory and power of God shone forth through the 300 men chosen to fight and win the battle.

We will miss our friends who will not be able to join us tonight and tomorrow, and we join you in the battle for life in prayer and sacrifice. We offer special prayers of safety for those of you traveling tonight and tomorrow. And we especially pray for the trust to say, “God’s will be done!” Those of us who will be at the March for Life tomorrow must trust that there is a reason we are there, bodily, and offer our physical sufferings and sacrifices to God, reminding ourselves that to Him alone belongs the victory.

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

I’ll confess, though not a devout Facebook user, I have it, and I learn from it. A scan of the news feed shows me pictures and news of friends (um, real ones) and family, articles on faith,  recipes, videos, and world news. My “friends” happen to give me a lot of information about the Arlington Diocese, life issues, sexuality, and Pope Francis. Overall, it has become my go-to place to get a quick view of what is going on. I can see why they don’t have options to click “dislike,” or “pathetic,” or “this is sick.” I suppose I could put that in the comment section, but that would be a lot of work, and un-Sisterly. For the most part, my “friends” are quite tame as far as information goes, but I have run across a fair share of links that pose the question: “how much crazier are things going to get?”  There is some whacked stuff out there! In the spirit of generosity, I thought I should share a few. Feel free to reassure me that I am not completely insane.

 Two different stories coming out of the Big Apple: an animal rights group is filing a petition in to make a law which would establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees; meanwhile, New York City currently holds the national record for highest percentage of black and hispanic babies aborted at 81.9% of the 83,750 babies aborted in 2010. According to the report issued by the Centers for Disease Control, New York continues to hold the record for most abortions annually at 115,724, as reported by those abortion facilities participating (which makes one wonder about those not in compliance and not legally required).

 About a month ago an inspiring and tear-jerking story went viral about a “Mother’s Love” and her premature baby boy’s fight for life, which he won through the love of his parents. Please watch this video made by his father as a gift to his mother: Ward Miles – First Year. Meanwhile, in Belgium, they are fighting to pass laws to euthanize children.

 I had to read this one twice and call a friend to verify I was reading it correctly. Apparently, there is the proposal of the A.B. 460 law that would allow for same-sex couples to get insurance coverage for their, er….”infertility problem.” Read more from the National Catholic Bioethics Center Commentary here. There is something to be said for the moxy of individuals or groups who, once biological realities are eschewed, push the limits to what would be a logical outcome of such a denial. It follows that once we change the definition of marriage, sexual intercourse, or decide being male or female is an option, we have to change the definitions of fertility and infertility. I feel naïve for being surprised. If a whole kingdom did not say anything when its Emperor paraded around naked, but rather admired his clothes, this should seem rather normal.

 Okay, let’s end on a few fun things provided by my Facebook education:

Pope Frodo?

I am Emma Woodhouse in: “Who in Fiction Are You?”

Fr. Lundberg reminds me: Millennials Are the Hopeful Generation

Catholic Memes – Great job on St. Nicholas



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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

In my opinion, it is a sin if you have not seen “It’s A Wonderful Life.” In addition to being my favorite movie, isn’t the question that ultimately drives the film part of a good examination of conscience to make each night? “What if I did not exist?”

wonderful_lifeAs we thank God for His many gifts, are we really accepting that our lives are part of His divine plan? Are our thoughts and actions in accord with His Will for our existence? Most of us spend a great deal of time deciding what is unlovable, unacceptable and why, in fact, our existence is not such a good thing. Very dangerous territory, isn’t it? If we think the good of our existence is measurable, then the life of others is measurable. In our throwaway society, what we don’t like, we get rid of.

At this time in history, more and more of us should be asking another question. “Why am I one of the lucky ones to make it?” With an estimated 50 million abortions since 1973, the fact that we got to take our first breath is more of a miracle than we think. I have had the blessing of hearing many accounts from mothers and fathers who admitted to me that they almost aborted their son or daughter. I have even had grandparents confess with a look of horror in their eyes that they pressured their child to have an abortion, and how grateful they are each day for the life of their grandchild.

Each life saved is a gift! The circumstances of how life was chosen in the endvary from the support of a loved one to the absolute miracle of divine intervention. Whatever the case may be, each parent must shudder to think “what if” when they look at their son or daughter before them, and must know inexpressible gratitude and certainty that they made the right decision.

Providentially, I happen to be aware of a number of priests and religious, even some conceived and born well before the legalization of abortion, whose parents considered aborting them. Certainly, this is a profound aspect of their discernment and vocation story! The following poem is written by the mother of a priest. Many would think that having a baby at seventeen would certainly ruin the life of a woman. What a blessing that this mother did not agree  her story proves that choosing life is wonderful!

May God bless her abundantly for choosing life, and offering that life to God!

Just seventeen

Full of hopes and dreams

She then found out she was a pregnant teen

Pressure from many

To end a blessed life

Scared, confused, and alone facing each day with strife

Then visions of new hopes and new dreams appeared in bright light

She knew in her heart she couldn’t take a life.

God spoke her name one snowy eve

Giving her peace, strength, and courage,

Yes she believed

The boy took his first breath on a hot summer day

The path was set,

He was on his way

When she first saw her son, so fragile and small

She instantly loved him and

Knew in her heart

She had been called

Called to raise her son from an infant to a man

She would need God and a really good plan!

Daily life took over and she didn’t always know

That God was right there with her

She was never alone

He protected her son and held her hand tight

He whispered to her heart and helped her though each night

Guiding her choices and making her strong

He help her become a Mother and to see right from wrong

As she watched her baby, learn and grow

She began to see the Holy man she would soon know

As a small boy he was playful, happy, and kind

As a teen he grew strong, self-confident, and sublime

She often wondered “how it could be

That this fantastic young man is part of me”!

Many years passed by and on one quiet day, she was thinking out loud

She thought of her life

As she stared up at the clouds

Her entire life flashed past her

In an instant it seemed

Was she really the best that she could possibly be?

She knew the answer and she began to pray

She asked God for forgiveness and gave thanks for each day

When she was finished and wiped her tears

She knew for certain that God had been with her through all of those years

He was with her always during her life

Through the joy, happiness, bad choices and strife

He gave her the wisdom

To give her child life

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

ImageTeaching high school Catholic morality classes, I always feared parent-teacher conferences. The first year, I braced myself for heated debates with parents concerning the issues of marriage, premarital sex, contraception, and abortion. Oddly, those issues never came up. What did keep coming up was the class where I said that humans have higher intelligence than animals, and animals don’t make moral choices. In short, that human life is higher than animal life. That is what they wanted to debate.

Many a parent came prepared to prove I was wrong with amazing stories of the intelligence and love exhibited by their dogs. More than once I was tempted to agree that it was indeed possible that their dog was more intelligent and loving than their teenager. However, what I had discussed with the students was not merely my opinion but fact: humans have a higher intelligence and can do what animals cannot do – the capacity for self-reflection, love, and moral choices. Your dog is not wondering why it exists or if God exists, wondering how much you love it and how it can love you better. As imperfect as we are, and as doggone cute as animals can be, humans are a superior form of life. Of course, one could wonder as our “furry fecal friends” (credit to a friend) have trained us to pick up and walk through our neighborhoods with their “waste” swinging from our wrists.

It is imperative for Christians to be good stewards and care for creation, protecting it through actions and laws. But then I think we should be consistent and do the same for human life. I took some time to look at the  U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. It is a wonderful site, and I learned a great deal about endangered species and ways to protect them. A man from Georgia will spend 6 months in prison for unlawfully acquiring loggerhead sea turtle eggs in violation of the Lacey Act. Imagine 6 months in prison for taking potential turtles. You will also go to jail if you kill the Florida salt marsh harvest mouse, if the mouse is pregnant! Average litter size 10-12 – yikes!  The American Bald Eagle – one conviction, per bird, per egg. Take a look – plants are protected, too!

I was struck when I read that endangered species are protected under the Lacey Act. I recalled another law that was named after the pregnant woman killed by her husband, the “Laci & Connor Law,” or the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. Same name, different spelling.

Under this law, it can be double homicide if you kill a pregnant woman. Or murder if a miscarriage occurs or the baby dies because the mother is attacked. Though varied and with many qualifiers, it is law in some form in 36 states.

I can see why the other 14 states would hesitate to enact the Laci & Connor Law. It is already confusing and controversial in light of abortion laws – sometimes it is murder to kill unborn life, and sometimes, it is a choice. It is understandable that Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and NARAL all fought this law.

Yet, what a blessing the Laci & Connor Law is for our nation, as Ariel Castro, according to prosecutors, will be charged with murder in the beatings that killed five unborn babies from one of the women he held captive. And the latest good news is that Dr. Kermit Gosnell is convicted of three counts of murder. Yes, we are on the right track for justice and protection for humans too!

This is worth a read on the subject: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/05/death-penalty-in-cleveland-horrors-wait-who-died/

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I had an abortion in 1995. The next several years of my life seemed to be a series of one awful thing after the other, it became overwhelming. So many terrible things happened, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown.

At first I wondered if God was punishing me. Then I realized I could blame God, or I could take responsibility for what I did. It was MY DECISION. God had nothing to do with it, nor did He “punish” me for what I had done. I was punishing myself!!

I had no idea I could be forgiven for such a grave sin. Even though I went to church, it seemed like the priest only talked about “respect for life”, and never spoke about being able to be forgiven after having an abortion. The guilt I felt on Mother’s Day and March for Life weekend at church was incredibly painful.

For many years I wanted to confess my sin, but was afraid … I would not even tell my cousin who is a priest.

Then one day (17 years later), I was in a restroom at a church I was visiting when I saw a paper that read “help after abortion.” As I went on reading the piece of paper that was taped to the wall, it said there is healing and forgiveness after abortion. Even after reading it I thought “Forgiveness??? Really???” At the bottom of the page were tabs to pull off and a phone number to call. I pulled one off, and even then, I was hesitant to call.

After a week or so, I called and spoke with Jo at the Diocese of Arlington. She was so supportive and positive. She told me about Rachel’s Vineyard [our diocesan retreat]. It sounded too good to be true. I signed up to attend the upcoming retreat.

That retreat turned my life around!!

I feel so blessed to have experienced the forgiveness of God, and my retreat was on Divine Mercy weekend. It was amazing. The priest we had at our retreat was a Father of Mercy, and he was such an empathetic, kind man. He was not the priest that was scheduled to be at our retreat, but God sent him to us, and he will stay in my heart forever. What a wonderful man.

The women I met there know more about me than friends I’ve known for years. We stay in touch and we all went to Mass together last month and had a luncheon. We are planning a get together around the Christmas holidays and there is a true bond between us. It’s absolutely wonderful.

I pray that more people who need healing and forgiveness learn about Project Rachel and attend a retreat. It will be the beginning of the rest of your life. You can be forgiven and you can heal. Just let God in. I realized God never meant for me to hurt for all those years, He never did anything to punish me. He loves us. We are His children. Remember, He said: “Come to me, all who are weary.”

Please go to Him if you are weary and He will give you peace. God Bless You.

Note: There is a Project Rachel retreat occurring in Northern Virginia, November 2-4. There are still open spaces if you or someone you know is in search of healing after an abortion.

Diocesan Post-Abortion Ministry provides referral to specially trained priests and/or professional counselors, healing retreats and written materials. For confidential assistance please call 1-888-456-HOPE (4673) or email info@helpafterabortion.org.


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By: Susan Gibbs, Office of Communications

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

Yesterday’s Washington Post ran a sympathetic profile of late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart. Although he lives in Nebraska, Carhart decided to open shop in neighboring Maryland last year, as the state has virtually no restrictions on abortion.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

 The article is chilling. We learn that 60 unborn children are aborted every month, six to 10 of them late in pregnancy. He performs abortions up to 32 weeks, which is seven months into a pregnancy. Many children are born that early so why not just help a woman deliver her child? Because he is a man on a mission, a gruesome mission that he has brought to our community. As he tells a reporter, these children have “anomalies,” which is why he aborts them.

 That’s right: he aborts children because they are not perfect. But then again, who of us is?

 How imperfect does a child need to be? He gives an example of one child he aborted who would have been paralyzed from the waist down if allowed to live. Apparently, it is better off to be dead than to be in a wheelchair.

This is the horrific reality of abortion. It is not an easy slogan about “choice.” Abortion is a child who is dead, a mother who is devastated and a world in which people with disabilities are sent the message that their lives are worthless.

 It can be hard to step into the abortion debate, but as people of faith, we must. Not only is it a matter of life and death for the child, it’s also a matter of spiritual death for all those who partake in abortion.

 As Pope Benedict XVI said earlier this year, “It is necessary that the whole of society defend the right to life of the conceived and the true good of the woman, who never, under any circumstance, will be fulfilled in the choice of abortion. In the same way it is necessary … to provide the necessary help to women who sadly have already taken recourse to abortion, and who now experience all its moral and existential tragedy.”

 Please join us as we pray, act and support parents who are in difficult circumstances.


  • The Diocese of Arlington’s Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry has initiated a 30-day prayer campaign for the intention of healing all those who have participated in abortion. The official novena began on July 16 (Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel) and goes until Aug. 15 (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The Project Rachel Office encourages you to choose your favorite Marian prayer, the rosary or the chaplet of divine mercy and pray it each day through Aug. 15.
  • Join the Archdiocese of Washington and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who are cosponsoring the “Summer of Mercy 2.0,” a peaceful, prayerful presence for life July 30-Aug. 7 in Germantown, Md., and Washington, D.C.


  • Make sure you know what is happening in Virginia. If there are any public policy issues to weigh in on, the Virginia Catholic Conference will get the word out. Simply sign up for the VCC Advocacy Network.
  • Consider helping to spread the message of  love and mercy to all those on the road by ordering magnetic bumper stickers from the Arlington Diocesan Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry. The bumper stickers read, “Help After Abortion, 888-456-HOPE.”  Order online, at projectrachel@arlingtondiocese.orgor (703) 841-2755.

    Bumper sticker from the Arlington Diocesan Office for Family Life’s Project Rachel Ministry.


Parents facing difficult pregnancies need to know we care, and women and men who have been involved in abortions need to know that God loves them and has unending mercy.

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Living so close to Washington, D.C., parishioners from the Diocese of Arlington always support in large numbers the annual March for Life and surrounding events.  Here are a few photos that captured Bishop Loverde and parishioners during the Life is Very Good Event in Woodbridge, VA, the Youth Rally at the Verizon Center and the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Bishop Loverde preaches to over 3,500 youth at Life is Very Good in Woodbridge, VA

Parishioners from St. Leo the Great snap a photo of the clergy at the Youth Rally.

Parishioners from St. Leo the Great in Fairfax snap a photo of the clergy at the Youth Rally. Bishop Loverde was among the bishops in attendance.

Teens from the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More with Bishop Loverde at the March for Life.

Teens from the Cathedral of Saint Thomas More with Bishop Loverde at the March for Life.



Pope John Paul the Great students at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Pope John Paul the Great High School is located in Dumfries, Virginia.

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By Kevin Bohli, Director of the Office of Youth Ministry

Every year, thousands of teenagers descend upon Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. In fact, the events surrounding the March have become inundated with teenagers. The Vigil Mass that is held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is packed to capacity each year with teenagers forced to sit downstairs in small nooks and crannies without even the possibility of seeing the Mass on one of the television screens. And they are the lucky ones who were actually able to get inside the building!

Yet, they keep coming.

The Youth Rally and Mass for Life that happens each year at the Verizon Center on the morning of the March turns away thousands of would-be participants because there simply is not enough space. This year, the organizers added a second venue so that 20,000 teens could participate at the Verizon Center while 10,000 more could participate at the D.C. Armory. Within seconds of the tickets being available online, their website crashed due to the overwhelming response. Once fixed, the 30,000 tickets were all accounted for and thousands more put their names on waiting lists.

Yet, they keep coming.

3,500 will attend!

Inspired by these numbers, the Offices of Youth Ministry and Respect Life felt called to offer an event this year to help accommodate these crowds. The “Life is VERY Good” event on Sunday, Jan. 23 will consist of a Vigil Mass with Bishop Loverde, a keynote by Bob Rice, and a Holy Hour with music by Matt Maher. Originally planned to be held at a local high school auditorium, the high demand quickly moved the event to the 3,500-seat Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge, Va. The event sold out within days of announcing it, and many hundreds more were turned away. The groups that did get tickets have continued to grow in number and will now be seated in overflow spaces within the building and watching the entire event on closed-circuit TV.

Yet, they keep coming.

The March for Life is a sacrificial event. The weather is almost always cold, rainy, snowy, or all of the above. The crowds are enormous, while the secular press coverage is anything but. The goal is to make a peaceful and prayerful protest against Roe v. Wade. However, in the midst of the craziness of the day, it is easy for a teenager to wonder if their voice even mattered, or if anybody even knew that they were there.

Yet, they keep coming.

While many adults may be growing weary of the abortion debate and have become cynical that change will happen, this is not the case with young Catholics. The message that all life is sacred is not falling on deaf ears; it is falling on young ears. The next generation of Catholics has already taken their place in the prayerful and peaceful campaign for life.

Thank God they keep coming.

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