PILGRIMAGE OF PRO LIFE MASSES
ST. PATRICK FALLOWFIELD
AUGUST 18 2018
From: Bob Poole
ENTRANCE : Welcome to our monthly pro=life Mass. We gather at a particularly
urgent time , when the rights and freedoms we take for granted are very much under
attack. It seems that it is a case of two steps forward, one step back. We can get
discouraged and feel we are losing the battle. But it is especially when we feel we are
facing the Long Defeat that the Final Victory is close at hand. Let us ask the Lord to
encourage us and restore to us the joy of our salvation, as we confess our sins to Him and
ask for His forgiveness. (responsorial psalm)
HOMILY: It is not difficult to work out that the people bringing their children to Jesus
for blessing in the gospel today , are the parents of those same children. They recognize
that Jesus is a very good "thing" and they want him to bless their children with good
things. This reading is suggested for baptism ceremonies and I use it often at such
occasions to speak about the desire Jesus has to bless children with every good thing. He
wants to bless them with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, as St Paul
mentions in Ephesians 1: 3ff . So many parents tell themselves that it is better to let their
children wait until they are of an age to ask for baptism. But parents do not wait to
engage their children in an intellectual discussion about whether they want to be fed, or
clothed, or educated. They automatically know that these things are necessary and good
for their children, and they make the decision to provide them. So, if parents know how
to provide their children with physical and material things, why should they be
disqualified from providing them with spiritual blessings, such as sonship in Christ,
forgiveness of sins, and eternal life ?
"The life of the parent as well as the life of the child is mine", says God in our first
reading. Parents do not have autonomous control over their children. They are stewards,
exercising care over their children on behalf of the Lord, to whom each person belongs.
"If we live, we live for the Lord, if we die , we die for the Lord. This is why Christ lived
and died, that he might become Lord of the living and the dead' (Romans 14) . Parents do
not have the right under God to make decisions to abort the child within their womb.
Family members do not have the right to decide whether their elderly , infirm, parents ,
should be euthanized. "I have no pleasure in the the death of anyone, says the Lord God"
, in our first reading from the prophet Ezekiel. God is the God of life, not of death. He
does not desire the death of anyone. When we promote a culture of death, instead of life,
as we are doing in this country of ours right now, we are going right against the will of
God. "Turn then and live" ends our first reading.
On July 25th , 1968, Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae (On Human Life) . He
predicted four destructive consequences of contraception -an increase in abortion,
increased infidelity, a general lowering of morality, and a growing disrespect for women .
They have all happened. Humanae Vitae noted the moral and cultural perils of
contraception, and their contradiction of God's will for each husband and wife to perfect
one another and cooperate in the generation and rearing of new life. In the fifty years
since the promulgation of Humanae Vitae , the Church's teaching has been challenged,
rejected, and even ridiculed by the secular culture. I have to admit that , when I became a
priest, 30 years ago, the prevalent mood amongst my fellow clergy men was that Pope
Paul VI had made a huge mistake ,in going against the view of the commission he
himself had established to look into the whole question of contraception. They had
recommended to him that the Church should permit Catholics to use methods of
contraception. In his encyclical, Humanae Vitae, the Pope rejected that recommendation
and appealed to the constant teaching of the Church against contraception, a teaching that
all Christian denominations had accepted , until 1930, and Protestant leaders, such as
Luther, Wesley and Calvin all spoke out against the immorality of contraception.
I was 13 when the document was released, and I remember the consternation that it
produced, how priests and bishops were ordered to promote this teaching, how many
priests and nuns left the Catholic Church in protest, how the laity felt betrayed and made
the decision to reject that teaching. When I became a priest in 1988, the Church was still
swirling in a moral turmoil over this question, and i received and embraced the
conscientious moral rejection of the ban on contraception. I urged married women to go
with their conscience, I gave them all the moral and theological reasons for taking the
Pill, and I thought I was right to do so.
I was brought up sharp when Pope St John Paul II took up this whole question of
contraception and stridently endorsed it, but put it within the whole understanding of the
theology of the body and human sexuality. At around the same time, science was
beginning to reveal the medical dangers to women of using the Pill, we began to
understand that the Pill was not a neutral thing, that it actually created within the womb a
hostile environment to life, that it was actually an abortifacent in many circumstances.
We began to see that, far from freeing women to become mistresses of their own
sexuality, the Pill actually enslaved them more, they were seen no longer as people in
their own right, but as slaves of men's sexual desires, pornography and sexual diseases
flourished, and if a woman became pregnant, the Pill notwithstanding, then the obvious
thing to do was for them to get an abortion.
Our society suffers from its failure to heed the prophetic warning enshrined in Humanae
Vitae. Today, more than four out of every ten North American children are born out of
wedlock. Divorce is rampant. Violent crimes against women have vastly increased,. And
pornography degrades both men and women. But the most tragic consequence has been
that the medical profession has normalized the use of contraception as a medical
necessity, ignoring its abortifacient capabilities and detrimental effects on women’s
health. This use had led to millions of unborn children being killed by abortion as the
"back up" when contraception fails.
Humanae Vitae warned that governments would take coercive measures to impose
contraception on their citizens. Certainly, tyrannical governments have done so, and some
Western nations impose these measures upon Third World nations as a requirement for
foreign aid. In America, recently, we witnessed the Affordable Care Mandate coercing
the Little Sisters of the Poor, and other Christian educational and service agencies, to
fund contraceptive and abortifacient drugs. Here in Canada, the government has insisted
that any organization or church seeking to receive funds ,must sign up to the
government's acceptance of the basic rights enshrined in the Charter of Rights and
Freedoms , including explicitly women's reproductive rights, i/e to contraception and
abortion even though these so-called rights are not mentioned in the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms !
Contraception distorts the great gift of our sexuality and leads us to objectify those we
claim to love. The contraceptive mentality is inherently flawed because it convinces us
that we, not God, are the authors of human life. We become self-absorbed by pursuing
our desires instead of God’s will for our lives. Our second reading this Sunday, from
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, urges us to "live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making
the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what
the will of the Lord is." What is the will of the Lord? It is provided in our first reading at
today’s mass. "I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, says the Lord God." God