Baltimore archbishop speaks about the importance of the pro-life message
By Catholic Review Staff
Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore used a local example to inspire pro-life leaders from around the country to fight laws which would restrict pro-life pregnancy centers and other such venues from continuing the work they do to support those facing unwanted pregnancies.
In the Aug. 6 address to pro-life leaders in Anaheim, Calif., the archbishop recounted the case in which the Archdiocese of Baltimore successfully sued the City of Baltimore to halt enforcement of a law that would have required such centers to inform the public that they do not perform or refer for abortions or provide contraceptive services. He told the group of about 60 diocesan pro-life directors gathered for a conference at the Crowne Plaza Anaheim that it should not surprise them that impetus for the city ordinance had come from a report by the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood that claimed women were being “misled” at these centers about pregnancy options.
“This is an interesting ‘finding,’” he said, “considering that in 30 years of existence there had not been a single complaint filed against the largest pregnancy center in Baltimore. Baltimore, of course, is not unique; other cities have attempted similar measures.”
The archdiocese and its allies won the case in federal court and at the appeals level, but the moral of the story, the archbishop said, is that “our freedoms are linked – the right to life, religious liberty, freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly. They are linked intellectually, morally, and legally and this linkage finds its home in the human person created in God’s image and likeness and endowed with inherent and inalienable dignity.”
The archbishop’s talk and other workshops at the meeting were closed to reporters. The Catholic Review was provided a text of Archbishop Lori’s remarks.
In the talk, he noted that some people have suggested that pro-life advocacy is “hate speech” that needs to be controlled and limited, and cited examples of such ordinances. However, Archbishop Lori said that pro-life leaders do not condone hateful speech or actions in defense of life, because they know it hurts their cause and the dignity of the Gospel. “Yet, these laws are often blunt instruments that indiscriminately limit not only freedom of speech but also freedom of assembly,” he said.
“The message that our culture is sending more frequently and loudly is this: If you want to worship and teach in the privacy of home or church, that’s tolerable,” he said. “If you want to believe privately that human life has inherent dignity and worth from the moment of conception until natural death, that’s tolerable, but you may not witness to that teaching in how you run your business or in how you run faith-based hospitals, charities and schools.” He added that it would be foolish to think that the HHS mandate’s call for coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacient drugs is the boundary line for the government’s efforts, noting “this mandate is just the beginning of a movement to privatize the rights of every person and institution standing in the way of the culture of death.”
He also reflected, “The cause of life and the cause of religious freedom are not competing but complementary.”
The archbishop added that there has already been some success, in reaction to the U.S. bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom campaign this summer and encouragement for people to text “Freedom” (or “Libertad” for Spanish updates) to 377-377 for news and information about the ongoing struggle.
Archbishop Lori encouraged the pro-life leaders to stay strong in their struggles, which seek to transform culture, and to keep in mind the reason for their defense of life and religious freedom: the gifts we receive from the Creator are not just so people can be prosperous and comfortable, but so that they can be led to virtuous living and holiness, and therefore to eternal life.
The diocesan pro-life directors’ meeting, organized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities and hosted by the Diocese of Orange, also included a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
For a story on the pro-life Mass and reports from the Knights of Columbus annual convention in Anaheim, visit CatholicReview.org, and search under “Faith” for “Archbishop Lori.”
Copyright (c) Aug. 7, 2012 CatholicReview.org