Cardinal Rigali's Homily at Life Vigil
"Roe v. Wade Is Incompatible With Human Dignity; It Will Not Stand"
WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 23, 2008 (Zenit) - Here is the homily Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' conference committee on pro-life activities and the archbishop of Philadelphia, delivered at the National Vigil for Life opening Mass on Monday.
The National Vigil for Life, which was held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and today's annual March for Life, coincide with the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion.
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Archbishop Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States,
Archbishop Wuerl, Pastor of the Church of Washington,
Dear Priests, Deacons, Consecrated Religious, Seminarians,
Supporters and Defenders of human life, especially you, dear Young People of the Church,
Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,
"Giving Visibility" to the Dignity of Life
We rejoice in this beautiful "house of the Lord," the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is good for us to be here, gathered with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother.
With its many Masses, holy hours, Confessions and special occasions like this all-night National Prayer Vigil for Life, this National Shrine is a place of year-round worship, pilgrimage, evangelization and reconciliation. This monumental church gives visibility to our Catholic faith and heritage.
You have come to our nation's capital to "give visibility" to your faith, your heritage, and your commitment to life from conception to natural death. Tomorrow you will peacefully protest the injustice of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the 1973 Supreme Court cases that legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy. Tomorrow you will march in solidarity with unborn children, as well as their mothers and fathers and siblings. Tomorrow you will approach your elected officials, calling on them to protect those most at risk, the voiceless and most defenseless members of our human family.
But first, tonight! We have set this time aside to pray for an end to abortion, and to receive strength from the Lord. Millions of others are with us in spirit, watching this Mass both in the United States and abroad through the Eternal Word Television Network. Our hearts are especially with those who are homebound or serving in the military. Many others will give visible witness in their own communities at prayer vigils and walks across the country.
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, I express admiration to all of you for the many sacrifices you have made to defend, protect and cherish God's precious gift of life.
The New Incarnation Dome
Those of you who were here last year will recall the scaffolding erected in the back. The pews had to be removed and individual chairs set in their place. This year you are able to see the fruit of that work, which is the Knights of Columbus Incarnation Dome.
This Incarnation Dome is made up of 2.4 million pieces of colored glass cut and assembled in Italian workshops, shipped over the Atlantic in 346 boxes, and painstakingly installed over the course of five months by master mosaic artists. The whole project was a great undertaking that would not have been possible without the generosity of the Knights of Columbus and many others, and without the skills of the artists, craftsmen and scaffolding workers. It took time to craft this massive undertaking that will inspire generations of pilgrims yet unborn.
We too, dear friends, are called to a massive undertaking, to raise up, through God's grace, what Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae called "a great campaign in support of life." Our task is to build a culture of life in which every person is treated with the respect due to his or her human dignity, regardless of age, physical or mental ability, or stage of development.
This urgent project is well under way. But we know it is far from complete. We are reminded daily of the many direct threats to life through abortion, human embryo experimentation, and the false mercy of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Violence against the innocent unborn also spills over into disregard for other neighbors, so often erupting in violence in our homes through domestic violence and child abuse.
Our "great campaign in support of life" requires all the resources God has given us. It will take time. It will take generosity. It will take patience and sustained collaboration among so many groups. It presupposes unity in the Body of Christ and demands prayer, penance and sacrifice.
But what else can this Dome teach us about building a culture of life? The Incarnation Dome depicts four ...
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