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The Least and the Greatest in the Kingdom

The reversal of the Supreme Court’s 1973 in Roe v. Wade last June 24 did not eliminate abortion in our nation, but returned the question to the states. As I write, Minnesota House File 91 is under debate in our State Legislature, an attempt to eliminate virtually every restriction on abortion in Minnesota. As about a third of the country is passing legislation to restrict or prohibit abortion, Minnesota is even more likely to become a “destination” for the destruction of innocent life in the womb. Add to this the changed reality that most abortions are now done by chemical and not surgical means, and thus often without any knowledge of or support by those around the mother. There is much to be done to uphold the fundamental right of each person, made in the image of God, to life.

There is ample coverage of the provisions proposed in HF 91, perhaps the most radical abortion legislation in the country (the Senate has not yet taken up the legislation).

Per the Minnesota Legislature Revisor website, the bill would: “repeal requirements involving parental notification for minors seeking an abortion; women receiving statemandated information at least 24 hours prior to an abortion; performance of abortions only by physicians; regulation of abortion facilities by the Department of Health; abortion reporting; and treatment of ‘infants born alive’ after an attempted abortion. Statutes limiting Medical Assistance and MinnesotaCare coverage of abortion, prohibition of certain advertisements and prohibition of abortions performed at birth centers, would also be repealed.”

Contact your legislators to ask them to oppose this bill and any other laws that would harm life and our future generations. A simple way to do this, and keep informed on a wide range of issues, is to join the Catholic Advocacy Network, a service of the Minnesota Catholic Conference (working on behalf of our state’s bishops in the legislative arena). Simply text CAN to (651) 998-7322, or go to

Last Sunday, Bishop Kettler led his final Vespers for Life in our diocese, and spoke about the need to go beyond legislation – important as that remains – in order to educate, witness, and model respect for life. We cannot give up, especially now, to witness to our respect for life rooted in faith, hope, and charity, and do so in ways that invite others to share awe and reverence at the visible work of God in our world. We will not advance this cause by arguing, belittling, or despising those who do not share our conviction; we will make a difference by modeling respect, concern, and patient selfless concern for others.

While abortion is rightly on our minds around the 50th anniversary of the legalization of abortion, St. John Paul II wrote about much more in his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life): poverty, war, human trafficking, euthanasia, slavery, violence, sexual assault, pornography, and more. Attention to these threats to human life and dignity is not intended to dilute the significance of abortion, but to highlight the broad and various problems that are related whenever we dehumanize persons made in God’s image and gifted with life.

I know well that there are strong feelings and sometimes fundamental objections to these views. Over and over, I am drawn to the simple but world-changing, historyshaping teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25: “Whatever you do to the least, you do to me.” We all have those we count “least” in our lives and concern. Jesus’ words here underscore that his love and mercy extends into absolutely every life, even those the world finds no room for or value in – and as his disciples, he asks us to do the same.

St. John Paul ended Evangelium Vitae with a prayer, worthy of repeating as we continue our work for respect for every human life:

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely, in order to build, together with all people of good will, the civilization of truth and love, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

Fr. Tom

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