By Marnie McAllister, Record Assistant Editor
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who serves as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called on Catholics to “renew their commitment to loving people” during the annual Memorial Mass for Life celebrated at St. Martin of Tours Church in downtown Louisville on Jan. 19.
“You and I know that our Catholic faith tells us that the dignity of human life is from the moment of conception to natural death; that it includes every human being that God has created — created in his own image and likeness,” he told the congregation of about 700 people, including families with small children, elderly religious and members of both the Knights of Columbus and the Ancient Order of Hibernians. The fraternal organizations sponsor the annual Mass.
“It doesn’t matter — rich or poor; it doesn’t matter whether someone is of great intelligence or has a disability,” he said. “What matters is that the Lord God has created each of us and we are called to support and defend life.”
During his homily, the archbishop called on his listeners to commit themselves to four actions in the name of life: “to pray, to serve, to continue to learn and to be an advocate for life.”
On prayer, the archbishop urged the faithful to pray to understand the dignity of human life — both the lives of their own families and strangers alike.
On service, the archbishop called on the faithful to continue the church’s long tradition of service as volunteers in hospitals, nursing homes, schools and places where the poor and vulnerable are aided.
On learning, he said, the faithful must educate themselves about “the important aspects of a changing culture.”
And on advocacy, the archbishop urged people to advocate both for just laws and for a change of heart.
Pope Francis has pointed out, he said, that we live in a “throwaway culture” where every-day items are discarded without a thought.
“We’re tempted to treat people that way,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “If they become burdens for us, let’s just throw them away. You know that’s wrong and I know that’s wrong.
“And so it is that we are called to renew our commitment to love people, not to use people … but to love people and to use God’s creation to help us in that call,” he said.
He concluded his homily by inviting the congregation to “commit yourself to that four-step action. We need each of you to do it and we need you to go home and testify just as the Baptist in the Gospel today testified love.”
The annual memorial Mass has been organized at St. Martin of Tours Church for decades by Jane and Mike Peake. They passed the baton this year to Celesta and Rick Arnold, the Knights of Columbus State Council culture-of-life chair couple.
The couple took turns announcing the names of each school, church and organization that publicly recommitted itself to pro-life ministry at the Mass. There were more than 100 groups represented. Each sent a volunteer to receive a red rose in the front of church at the end of the Mass.
The Mass also included a procession of children who carried 41 white roses to a side altar during the offertory. The white roses represented the 41 years since the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in this country.