Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
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On ‘Roe vs. Wade’ anniversary, Cathedral Mass participants told to ‘never, ever let
go of the fight’
Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the Feb. 6, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
Students from Cataldo School,
Spokane, carried banners with pro-life messages as part of the processional of the Mass on the
anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. (IR photo)
Catholics in the Spokane Diocese joined with millions of Catholics across the United States Jan. 22 to pray for an end to the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Masses, vigils, rosaries and other prayer services were held throughout the day and evening as a witness to the sanctity of human life and an end to abortion.
At the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes in downtown Spokane, Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, president of Gonzaga University, presided at a Mass of the Holy Innocents at noon. Joining him in concelebration were the Cathedral’s rector, Msgr. James Ribble, and Father Paul Vevik, pastor of Mary Queen Parish in Spokane. Cathedral Deacons Andrew Phelps and Richard Skok also were part of the Mass.
Some 59 seventh and eighth graders from Cataldo School, Spokane, carried a six-part banner in the Mass procession. Cataldo student Sean Leonard was the lector for the first reading.
The nave was about two-thirds full of people, with many undoubtedly stopped from attending by the winter snowstorm that had arrived that morning.
In his homily Father Spitzer traced the development of the principle of inalienable human rights, which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A human person has those inalienable rights for one reason only, he said: “the intrinsic dignity that belongs to every person.”
These rights, of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, were recognized as so important, he said, that they were built into the Declaration of Independence. “Our country was founded on these beautiful rights,” said Father Spitzer.
The Jesuit also talked about ethics and the “Silver Rule,” which dates back to 2000 B.C. and states: “Do not do a harm to others.” Thirty years ago, on Jan. 22, 1973, “the gravest of all harms occurred,” he said. The nine people on the U.S. Supreme Court at that time signed the Roe vs. Wade decision which made abortion legal. “In their doubt about person-hood, the court seriously eroded and undermined (the right to life).”
However, he said, “Catholic tradition recognizes more (in a human being) than intrinsic dignity. The Church believes in the sacredness of the human person since all are made in the image of God.” The soul “came into the body at the moment of conception, giving it that sacredness and those inalienable rights.”
Father Spitzer exhorted those listening to “never, ever let go of the fight. Do not give up and never stop praying.”
He stressed the importance of education: “We need to tell people about the good news of person-hood given by the Creator.”
He also talked about the need to take advantage of “every opportunity for beauty and truth in the domain of power. We need to put these in words that will transform our culture. Every human being not only has an intrinsic dignity; every person is transcendental and called to a life of love in the Trinity itself, ever and always.”
Paul and Juli Kienbaum and 11-year-old daughter, Danielle, attended the Mass. They believe it was “important to come and pray for this most pressing need and concern.” Danielle said she “realizes everyone deserves to live.”
Jim Anderson, a minister in another church, also attended. “Christians (who oppose abortion) are a big family and we are involved in different parts of the struggle. We can’t give up hope.”
Peggy Baird, a member of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Byzantine Catholic Parish in the Spokane Valley, said she was at Mass “to be a witness. I think it’s the most important issue facing the world today.”
Rachel Martin, a staff member at Catholic Charities, also attended the Mass. She said she has a “passion about the right to life,” and compassion for the suffering, especially that of children.
The Mass was followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, recitation of the rosary, and Benediction.
Luminarias, which are candles inside white paper sacks, were lighted and placed on the Cathedral’s steps, filling the whole center section of steps with a luminous glow, an effective example of light on a dark, dreary, drizzly afternoon. They seemed to echo Father Spitzer’s concluding remarks from the noon Mass: “The light of Jesus Christ will prevail; that is our hope.”
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