Remarks of Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila
Denver’s March for Life
January 16, 2016
Colorado State Capitol
Thank you very much for your warm welcome and enthusiasm on this cold day. The closer you stand, the warmer you will be.
Let us begin with prayer. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father we come before you and we praise and thank you for the gift of your son, Jesus, and for all that he has given to us—the gift of life, the gift of salvation, the gift of your mercy and the forgiveness of our sins. We thank you Lord for the gift of life that you have bestowed upon on each one of us. Help us to be your witnesses to life in 2016. Help us to be those who continue to give witness to your son and give witness to the truth of the dignity of every human being from the moment of conception until natural death. We ask your blessings, Lord, upon our country and nation, for so long it has given in to a culture of death. We beg you, Lord, for the conversion of each and every American, to see the gift of life and to truly embrace a prolife stance. Help us to be those who reach out to women who have had abortions, to comfort them so that they may experience your mercy and forgiveness. We pray especially for the doctors and nurses who perform abortions—that their hearts may be changed, that you will soften their hearts, that their eyes may be opened to the truth of what they are doing. And we ask all of this in the name of your son, Jesus, who is Lord forever and ever.
It is wonderful to see so many of you here. It seems that for more than four decades of legal abortion in the United States that we are not making progress in building a culture of life and yet the truth is we are winning. Increasing numbers of young people are identifying as prolife. Over 50 laws limiting abortion were passed by various states in 2015. And more resources are available for women in crisis pregnancies, especially here in Colorado. We have great reason to be hopeful, but the evil one wants us to despair, he wants us to be discouraged, and we must never give in to discouragement. We must be those who stand strong, stand strong for the gift of life and in giving witness to the trust that we put in Christ and the power of his resurrection. As he has told us in John’s Gospel, “I have conquered the world,” and all of us must believe in that truth and live that. We must remain vigilant and relentless in defending life and the legal protections that make our defense possible. It is becoming increasingly common for people to consider conscientious objection unacceptable. A current example of this is the way Christians, Jews and Muslim and anyone who opposes the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples are thoroughly labeled as hateful and worthy of being silenced. We will not be silenced.
The 2016 budget debates in Congress offered another important example when the abortion non-discrimination act was not included in the spending bill. This bill would have protected health care entities and employees who refused to participate in abortion from discrimination by state, local, and federal government agencies. My brother Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, the president of the U.S. Bishops, said this about the failure: “I am deeply concerned that a foundational principle that has receive longstanding bipartisan support in the past has suddenly become partisan. No one should be forced by the government to actively participate in what they believe to be the taking of an innocent life. This is not about access to abortion. The principle at stake is whether people of faith and others who oppose abortion and abortion coverage should be compelled to participate in them.”
Recently, some medical students have told me of the pressure that they get in medical school to perform abortions against their conscience. It is considered medical care even though they understand it as taking of human life, or as St. John Paul II said in The Gospel of Life, “It is murder.” We must open our eyes to that truth, and we must be those who lead the public dialogue on this. We must be aware of this deterioration, and we must push back in every turn, but it takes people like you becoming involved in the public square. It takes people like you to write your representatives, to email them, to call them. And it takes people like you to run for office, regardless of the political party, regardless of the platform and to stand for life. And not for the culture of death.
The second area where life is being attacked in our state is at its end. There is a full-court press being made in our legislature to legalize doctor-assisted suicide in Colorado. This past week, two bills were introduced—one in the House and one in the Senate. House Bill 1054 and Senate Bill 25 will legislate doctor-assisted suicide. As people who stand for life, you, the laity, must give witness and must contact your representatives. I encourage you to speak and to come and to participate in the debate. Do not be passive, because it is with passivity that we are where we are today. We must be those who speak to our representatives and give them the truth of where we stand, and let them know where we stand. When we defeated Senate Bill 175, it was because of how much you bombarded the emails and the voicemails of your representatives. That was over a year and a half of ago, and it would’ve made abortion legal at all stages within our state and make it illegal for laws to be passed against abortion.
It is important for all of you to give witness. The same is true with the assisted-suicide bills. This is a serious threat against people who are at a vulnerable stage of life. We must stand up for the elderly, disabled and sick people who need our compassion, care and love, not a lethal overdose of medication. While they go by the name Compassion and Choices, they are anything but compassion. Compassion never takes the life of another human being no matter what their plight. Just as with abortion, medical professionals’ right to [refuse to] participate in a process that degrades our humanity, could easily be trampled upon. After all, why should it matter if a doctor objects to violating his conscience when it’s legal to allow someone to take their own life?
I urged you to join me in opposing these tragic bills from becoming law. I encourage you to sign up for the Colorado Catholic Conference legislative network. Just visit CoCatholicConference.org to do so. I am sure that many of you, probably over 90 percent of you, use email. It’s the simple click of a button and going to those places. Bombard them with your emails. The network’s legislative alerts will keep you informed of times when your voice is needed on these critical issues. I would also encourage you—for those of you who are citizens of the state of Colorado—to participate in your March 5 caucuses. If you have never been to a caucus meeting, I encourage you to go. If you need information on how to go to those, it is [there] that decisions are made about platforms and where you can speak to life and to the life issues. Be not afraid to go to those caucuses and become involved at that level. It is the right of every citizen, and too many citizens have sat in the backseat so that we are where we are in the state of Colorado. That must come to an end.
Finally, as we march through the streets of Denver today, I ask you to pray to the Father for the conversion of all those who support abortion and for those who support assisted suicide. Pray that their hearts may be changed, that their minds may be convinced on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Pray for those who carry out abortions, that they may be converted and have a change of heart. And pray especially for women who have had abortions and who have come to their senses. We must receive them with the mercy and love of Jesus Christ and welcome them. Jesus forgives them, and Jesus heals them. And it is important for us to pray for them.
Thank you again for your presence here. It gives me great hope for the future of Colorado and the future of our country. Continue to give witness to the gift of life and choose life in all its stages. God bless you all.