By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
Reminding the faithful that it is a gift from God, Bishop Edward J. Burns on Aug. 22 called on them to continue to proclaim the Gospel of life in their everyday lives.
“It is a sacred gift,” the bishop said. “And we call on all believers who know God as the author of all life — from the moment of conception until natural death — to continue to pray and work for the basic right to life.”
Pro-life advocates and the faithful joined Bishop Burns at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe that rainy Monday as he celebrated “Now Thank We All Our God: A Celebration of Life,” a special, bilingual Mass on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary.
The Mass was organized by the Catholic Pro-Life Community, Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Dallas. The celebration comes following the June 24 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, overturning its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, which had established a constitutional right to abortion nationwide. The court’s move in June came in its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The court upheld the state’s ban in a 6-3 vote and overturned Roe in a 5-4 vote, returning the issue of abortion to the states.
In his homily, Bishop Burns told those in attendance he was grateful to celebrate the Mass of Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving for the decision in the Dobbs case by the Supreme Court,” he explained. “This is a moment so many people have been waiting for. This is a moment that so many people have been praying for. It’s one they have been marching for.”
The bishop recalled his own days as seminarian, first in Pittsburgh and later in Maryland, boarding a bus to Washington, D.C. for the National March for Life.
“The city was just transformed into a celebration of life and the need to advance the Gospel of Life,” he said.
Bishop Burns recalled the words of Pope Paul VI, who authored the first papal reaction to Roe v. Wade in 1974, saying that, “Respect for human life is not imposed only on Christians. Human reason is sufficient to demand it.” The bishop also cited recent remarks from Pope Francis noting that “abortion is not a theological problem — it is a human problem.”
“What we see today is that there are many things that still threaten the dignity of life,” Bishop Burns warned. “And the gravity of those threats brings about crimes against humanity.”
The bishop explained that throughout scripture there are illustrations that to believe in Jesus Christ is to believe in life in its fullness.
“You cannot separate life from Jesus Christ — or Jesus Christ from life,” Bishop Burns said. “Our references to Jesus Christ as life should fuel us all to be unwavering in our proclamation of His gospel so as to live as faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, who is life.”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, the faithful are called to proclaim the Gospel of Life and to continue to protect the dignity of all life, the bishop explained.
“All faithful people of goodwill are to uphold the basic commandment: ‘Thou shalt not kill,’” Bishop Burns said. “We cannot deny the relationship of human life with the God who created us in His image.
“And through his son, Jesus Christ,” he added. “we’re called to live life, proclaim life, and defend life.”