KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., turned to the story for which Kansas is most famous, "The Wizard of Oz," to tell participants at the National Right to Life Committee's 2007 convention how the story's characters can guide their actions in the pro-life movement.
Speaking at a prayer breakfast during the June 14-16 convention in Kansas City, Mo., Archbishop Naumann said that, when considering the Scarecrow, "we need to pray for not only a brain, but for the wisdom to know how to best communicate to our contemporaries the sanctity of human life."
One can be "armed with all the correct facts," but if one is "not prudent in the manner of presentation, can actually drive people away from the truth," he said June 15.
Pro-life advocates also must ask for courage, like the Lion, Archbishop Naumann said. "Where human life is as risk, we cannot afford to be timid."
Aside from wisdom and courage, pro-life advocates must, like the Tin Man, also desire a heart "that will move us to seek to rescue with love those we are unable to protect with the law."
The pro-life movement has and must continue to do this through the work of crisis pregnancy centers, by reaching out "with compassion to those who have chosen abortion and now deeply regret their choice," and by working to "build a civilization of love and a culture of life where every child is treasured as a unique image of his or her creator."
"Finally," Archbishop Naumann said, "like Dorothy we must ask the Lord to give us the wisdom, courage and love to bring our nation home ... to the values needed to restore family life and respect for human life."
Pro-life advocates need to pray to learn how to "effectively communicate with love," the archbishop said. Pro-lifers, he added, "bear some responsibility" if the manner of their communication becomes an obstacle. There is a time, according to the prelate, "for describing with utter frankness the atrocity of partial-birth abortion."
However, he said, "many of those we are trying to reach often recoil and become angry when visually confronted with bloody pictures of an aborted fetus," leading them to anger not at the killing, "but at those who have showed them these harsh and disturbing images."
Archbishop Naumann criticized those Catholics who "championed a self-contradictory position of personal opposition but public support for abortion."
Their rhetoric of "choice," he said, obfuscates "the human tragedy that is a consequence of every abortion the destruction of an innocent and defenseless human life." Unfortunately, he said, "we have our share of these confused Catholics in Kansas as well."
The archbishop said that such a position is akin to that of Stephen Douglas, who when debating Abraham Lincoln on slavery "attempted to craft his position as not favoring slavery but of the right of people ... to choose to sanction slavery."
"We must," he said, "tear down the wall created by the Supreme Court in 1973," effectively disenfranchising the people from formulating public policy on abortion with its Roe v. Wade decision.
"There are some hopeful signs today of change in American society," Archbishop Naumann said; he cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban, a decrease in the number of abortions, and a shift in polling to greater numbers of people identifying themselves as pro-life.
"If Americans truly want to restore respect for human life today then we need to demand from our leaders and from ourselves nothing less than the tearing down of the wall of injustice and oppression created by Roe v. Wade," Archbishop Naumann said.
This wall, which he said was "imposed by an imperial court," has "usurped" the right of the people to legislate protection of human life and "created enormous frustration" in the American people. "If we are to succeed in bringing our nation home, then we must tear down the wall created by Roe v. Wade," he added.
"We know that Christ has already defeated death and the victory of life has already been won," Archbishop Naumann said. As such, he added, Christians "cannot indulge in discouragement much less despair."
"Though we do not know the precise length of this current battle," he said, "we know the outcome is assured. We know if we remain faithful, our God is always faithful. We know that, indeed, 'Life will be victorious!'"
Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops