'We are a people of hope,' Bishop Loverde says at pro-life Mass

WASHINGTON - Echoing buzzwords from President Barack Obama's successful campaign for the White House, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington told pro-lifers gathered for a Mass Jan. 22 - just hours before the annual March for Life was to begin - that "we are a people of life because we are a people of hope."

Bishop Loverde added, "The atmosphere is charged with words and with the realities conveyed by those words: change, responsibility, accountability and, above all, hope." But pro-lifers are, "fundamentally, a people of hope," he said.

"The people of hope do not give up. Hope sustains us to persevere and prevail," he added.

The bishop was principal celebrant and homilist at a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The basilica was the site of a vigil Mass Jan. 21, followed by an overnight vigil that culminated in the Mass celebrated by Bishop Loverde.

The Mass, celebrated on the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions that permitted abortion virtually on demand, marked "A Day of Penance and Prayer on the Occasion of the Anniversary of Roe v. Wade."

"The hope which keeps us optimistic is Jesus Christ ... the one and only savior of the human race," Bishop Loverde said. "The Lord Jesus is our hope because he is our savior. He is, in a word, salvation."

The bishop added, "We necessarily oppose anything and everything that takes away human life" from conception to natural death.

"It goes by many names, but the result is always the same - abortion, partial-birth abortion, embryonic stem-cell research, euthanasia, mercy killing, physician-assisted suicide - but the reality is always the same," Bishop Loverde said.

But there is "no greater act of injustice," he added, "than to deliberately take away human life from its very beginning in the womb."

Bishop Loverde said some have recommended the pro-life movement focus strictly on laws against abortion, and leave behind initiatives that would reduce the number of abortions, while others recommend just the opposite.

"Our goal is not the reduction of abortions, but the elimination of all abortions," Bishop Loverde said to applause.

Addressing young people, who made up a significant portion of those in attendance at the Mass, he said, "How blessed we are to have the participation of you, the young church in America," adding that pro-lifers young and old will "march until all the unjust attacks on human life are no more."

Bishop Loverde said, "We are here seeking a massive conversion of hearts." While legislation is necessary, he added, "in the end, a conversion of hearts is crucial."

Bishop Loverde garnered more applause when he declared, "We will remain steadfast in our commitment to change the culture of death into the culture of life," and when he exhorted those at the Mass to "intensify a new culture of life."

"We will remain responsible for upholding life from conception to natural death and every stage in between," Bishop Loverde said. "This is the time to hope - to become ever more a people of life, for life."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2009