Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Praised be Jesus Christ, who has risen from the dead and makes all things new again! I hope you will rejoice with me in last week’s news that four of the Planned Parenthood abortion mills in Iowa are closing at the end of this month. This is a great victory of prayer and witness for life and for hope, in the midst of the culture of death which so much surrounds us.
I am so grateful to all those who have engaged in this spiritual battle over the years, most obviously through Forty Days for Life, and through private, fervent, daily devotions and rosaries offered for an end to the scourge of abortion in our midst.
I am also grateful to those who staff and operate Mary’s Choice, which is next door to the Sioux City Planned Parenthood facility. Their presence has made a difference.
Prayer is our greatest and most effective weapon against evil. Along with prayer is our daily witness of the grace and mercy of Christ in our lives, our marriages, our homes. Even when we are scorned and ridiculed for our faith, we must continue to hold fast to the Gospel and insist that we have the right (and the duty) to be publicly Catholic. More than anything else, it is the committed prayer and daily witness of us as disciples that brings peace to worldly troubles and overcomes worldly evils.
From that platform of prayer and witness, we are also called to act publicly in accordance with our faith. One of the things this means is that we must not support pro-abortion politicians and parties. In so many things that engage us as a people, we may choose one option or another, and support our choice morally. But in a small number of issues, of which abortion is the chief and most destructive and vicious, the bottom line is an intrinsic evil that must never be supported, but always clearly opposed. We cannot pray for an end to abortion in private, and then support pro-abortion politicians in public and believe that we are consistently following Christ. It is simply a contradiction.
In this case, both prayer and voting pro-life have been necessary. The particular trigger for this decision is the transferring by the state government of more than $3 million in state and federal funding for women’s health and family planning, from Planned Parenthood to other health centers which do not perform either chemical or surgical abortions. Women will now have many more options for their health care – more than 200 clinics across the state will now receive this money.
Consider for a moment the implications of this cause. Your tax money, which by law may not be used for abortions, has been propping open the doors of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country. At the same time, this company and all its spineless shills in government office, the media, and elsewhere, brazenly lie that abortion is not its main purpose. Regardless of our political leanings, none of us can be happy to be so lied to for so long.
The truth is now undeniably obvious. This company is now admitting that it cannot be economically successful without abortions and without tax subsidies. They have no other reason for existing, and when the prop is taken away, the doors close. I am happy these doors are closing, because they never opened onto anyone’s good.
Yet, let’s also not forget to pray for all women who find themselves in a difficult pregnancy, all doctors who perform and provide abortions and all workers at the clinics who now are unemployed. All lives are important and every person deserves the dignity and love that the church can offer.
We have won a significant victory, but the larger struggle continues. We remain surrounded by the culture of death. All the cultural forces that undermine the enduring values of marriage, family and the dignity of each person continue to gnaw away at our foundations. We must continue diligently and faithfully to pray and work for the protection of every human life at all stages of life.
Again, we need to remember, the people who support evils like abortion are not themselves evil. We must not hate them, or gloat over them, or show them by our words or actions that they are our enemy.
Certainly, we oppose them in the evils being supported. But we call them, God calls them, to a deeper conversion. The good that we seek is not only that abortion should never be practiced, but that, like slavery before it, abortion should become unthinkable.
This can only happen by the power of God changing minds and hearts, just as he has changed us. In our prayer and witness, we must also pray for them, and show them as far as possible the beauty and power of God’s infinite mercy for all sinners.
Please pray for me, and for each other in every circumstance and struggle, just as I pray always for all of you. May the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ renew every heart to love God and neighbor more perfectly!
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City