Teach the truth in love

WASHINGTON - Just as St. Paul and the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel advised in their time, "we cannot fail to warn our brothers and sisters when a fundamental error has been made," said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services.

"We would be held responsible for that error, if we did not teach the truth effectively in love," said Archbishop Broglio in his homily for a Jan. 22 morning Mass closing an overnight vigil at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception prior to the annual March for Life protesting legalized abortion, among other life issues.

"The privilege of being called - of receiving the Christian vocation - includes the duty to work effectively in defense of the defenseless," he said.

Archbishop Broglio was the principal celebrant for the Mass, he had 40 concelebrants.

"So often we have been accused in the discussion of life issues of foisting our beliefs on others or trying to promote legislation that reflects only our religious convictions," Archbishop Broglio said. "We believe that the right to life is inscribed in the conscience of humanity. It is not merely a Catholic issue, but a human one."

He added, "We are called to show a path to men and women who seek it desperately, often without knowing that they are indeed seeking."

Archbishop Broglio noted that the March for Life, which many inside the shrine were to take part in later that day, was the 37th annual march.

"For 37 years we have been seeking to lead the men and women of our time to recognize the dignity of the human person. I remember marching with some people from the parish where I was an associate pastor 32 years ago. We have been faithful in this appointment, but there is more," he said.

"We must ensure that our message is communicated authentically. We must look for the best way to win the hearts of our hearers. That may well mean that our confrontation is clear, but not direct. Our words must always be charitable. We must seek to persuade those in power and those on the street that no one has the power to take away the life given by the Lord.

"We, too, must avoid violence, offense to the dignity of the same human person that we struggle to protect, or anything that does not lead to a change of heart. We are women and men on fire for the truth. That fire must first purify us and then inspire others," Archbishop Broglio said.

The archbishop, who had flown from Rome the day before, noted: "The women and men who saw the example of the early Christians began to ask questions, to draw near, and finally to meet the Lord who changed their lives. That's our own mission: calling everybody to bear Christ. That is why we are called Christians."

Near the end of the Mass, Archbishop Broglio had a message for the many young people present.

"You can always learn something from those who go before you," he said, adding that the first nuncio under whom he served when he was in the Vatican diplomatic corps once told him that by watching others, "you can always learn to do something, or learn how not to do something."

"You have all the possibilities to make this a better world," Archbishop Broglio said. "Draw on the strength of the sacraments and the grace of God to make this world a better place."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2010