Caring for the most vulnerable

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Today is the anniversary of the death of His Holiness, Blessed Pope Paul VI. May he rest in peace. As you know, he gave us the great encyclical Humanae Vitae (On Human Life). This document still has so much to say to all of us who care about life today.

By now, you’re all no doubt aware of the horrifying revelations recently made, regarding Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in the organs and tissues of babies murdered in the womb. Not content with making hundreds of millions of dollars each year, much of it from us tax-payers, for killing the most defenseless of God’s children, they callously profit still further by ruthlessly exploiting the bodies of these poor infants. We do not even do such dismemberment to the most hardened and unrepentant of criminals, rightly judging it a “cruel and unusual punishment.” Yet they are willing to do it to innocent babies. They thus pile evil upon evil, and the mountain of tiny skulls – 57 million aborted babies since 1973 – bears mute testimony to God for the calamity that is legal abortion.

In these disturbing videos, we see clearly the awful truth that abortion is the greatest moral evil of our age. It is a crime against justice, a crime that cries out to heaven. As long as abortion is legal, all manner of other evils can and will be tolerated. Every crime, every corruption, every barbarity is acceptable, if one first accepts that it is reasonable to kill a baby in his or her mother’s womb.

Evils like euthanasia, the growing corruption in politics and in business, the increasing erosion of the family, the sexualization of younger and younger children, even in our schools, and so on, are the bitter fruits we now reap. Abortion is not so much a slippery slope for evil as a cliff whose edge erodes more quickly than we can run back from it. We are all plunging together into the abyss, in our increasing violent and fractured civil society, because we have collectively condoned legal abortion.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta preached often that abortion undermines and corrupts every effort at peace and justice. “[T]he greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion,” she said boldly in her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. Truly, there can be no peace or justice in a society in which the murder of children is condoned.

St. John Paul II said the same thing, for example in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, where he coined the phrase “culture of death.” He observed, “The Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: ‘Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society…’” (Evangelium Vitae #3, quoting Gaudium et Spes #27).

Our current Holy Father, Pope Francis, has again said the same in his recent encyclical, Laudato Si.

“Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings…, if we fail to protect a human embryo…? ‘If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away….’ A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is ‘even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism.’ When human beings place themselves at the center, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay” (#120, 122). Thus, we cannot truly make much progress on any of the other injustices of our day, until we first make substantial progress against abortion.

My sisters and brothers, in just a few weeks we will begin again our 40 Days for Life campaign. This is an entirely peaceful effort of prayer, fasting, and witness to end the scourge of abortion in our country. In light of these recent revelations about just how corrupt and depraved we have become in our complacency toward such manifest evils, I urge you to join with renewed commitment in this year’s campaign.

Please, let us earnestly beg God on our knees for the protection of these innocent babies threatened with such a horrifying death and dismemberment, and for the conversion of heart of all those who support or condone legal abortion.

Please, also consider being in touch with our representatives in Congress, and ask them to work for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. No taxpayer funds should support this place, where the taking of innocent life happens all too often. May God have mercy on us, and heal our hearts from all sin.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless

Bishop of Sioux City

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