By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke to a packed congregation reminding attendees of their responsibility to stand up for life during the annual Memorial Mass for Life
celebrated at St. Martin of Tours Church Jan. 18 in downtown Louisville.
“Whether you came here on your own or someone brought you, you are here because you have a responsibility to Christ,” the archbishop said. “That responsibility is to use all the gifts you have to stand up for life.”
Standing up for life is important, the archbishop said, because of the way people are treated in the world today. Pope Francis, he noted, has used the phrase “throwaway culture” to refer to the ease with which people do away with what is no longer useful to them.
“That’s what’s happening with people,” said the archbishop. “People are held with so little respect.”
The archbishop said that some may feel they’ve worked long enough in the church and want to step aside and let others take the lead on life issues. Some may think they are too young for such a responsibility.
He told the congregation that this is not so and referred to the day’s first reading, from the first Book of Samuel in which God calls on Samuel. The archbishop reminded the congregation of Samuel’s response — “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
He encouraged those gathered to heed that calling, which he said is to be “ambassadors for Christ” and, as such, responsible to defend life.
“This is a very important message,” said Rick Arnold who along with his wife, Celesta, organized the Mass. The Arnolds are the Knights of Columbus State Council culture-of-life chair couple. “As Catholics we have to stand up for all human life, from conception to natural death,” said Arnold.
Part of Arnold’s work as an advocate for life has been to help facilitate the installation of ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers.
This, he said, has been a “blessing” to those centers.
“Most of the time, when mothers and even fathers see the child in the womb, they decide to choose life,” he said.
During the celebration, young people carried in 42 white roses — one for each of the years since the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion with the Roe vs. Wade decision.
The Mass, which was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of St. John and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, concluded with a rose ceremony. More than 100 schools, churches and organizations were recognized in the ceremony for re-committing to pro-life ministry. A representative from each was called up to receive a red rose as a symbol of this commitment.