The anniversary of Roe v. Wade marks a tragic moment in the history of the United States. Not only does this anniversary mark a legalization of the killing of millions of unborn, but it marks a tremendous shift in attitude concerning the rights which protect every citizen of this country.HoH_Listecki3-Color

There are many Catholics who will rightly proclaim adherence to the principles of social justice. When I am asked to respond to a social dilemma, be it the rights of workers, or issues of education or poverty, Catholics will often quote to me the words of various popes and explicate the applicable social principle.

The church has been and continues to be a world leader in protecting the rights of all men and women. It calls all individuals and nations to responsibility. They do not have to be Catholic. The church, interpreting “natural law,” reminds all men and women of their obligation to respect the moral rights of all persons.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade is so devastating because the highest court of our land afforded no protection to the most vulnerable among us, the unborn. If the weakest among us are not afforded the protection of the laws of our society, then our own rights are diminished. Our rights are only as strong as are the rights afforded the weakest among us.

The right to life is just not one of many rights; it is the right. Without life, all other arguments become meaningless. Unfortunately, since the Roe v. Wade decision, we have become calloused as a people. Abortion has become an acceptable practice by many in our society and the deaths of the unborn are ignored. We don’t see the unborn, we don’t hear the unborn and they don’t vote. But one can rarely disguise the truth and the truth is that this is LIFE.

It is this truth of LIFE that has motivated so many Catholics and the various pro-life organizations to take up the cause and be prophetic champions of the unborn. This witness is changing the attitudes of an entire nation.

In the beginning, pro-lifers were considered a fringe movement made up mostly of over zealous and pietistic Christians. They were dismissed by the general public as fanatics who wanted to invade the personal lives and decisions of women who were thought to be merely exercising their rights over their bodies.

However, there was another person involved and another body whose rights were ignored. These brave pro-life individuals wrote letters to their legislators, formed organizations, prayed in front of abortion clinics and weathered the criticisms of those who were pro-abortion and even those in their own communities who did not want to be involved.

But change has occurred and today most Americans consider themselves pro-life. Many advocate the overturning of the Roe v. Wade. But the most exciting aspect is that more and more young people understand the importance of the pro-life message and are willing to work for the eradication of these unjust laws.

Hundreds of thousands of people – many of them young people – will gather in Washington, D.C. and participate in the March for Life on Jan. 23. They will be largely ignored by the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court and the media. However, they are speaking out now and will do so in the future. They will be seen; they will be heard; and they will vote.

On Friday Jan. 20, 2012, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, through the ministry of the Nazareth Project (Lydia LoCoco) and Catholics 4 Life, will host “Ignite! Youth Rally for Life”

This title is taken from the Gospel quote of Jesus: “I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing” (Lk 12:49). The event will begin with Mass at 5 p.m. for nearly 700 high school students and will include a blessing for those continuing on to Washington D.C. to the March for Life, and encouragement and support for those remaining in Milwaukee.

Bishop Donald J. Hying will preside at a rally from 7 to 9 p.m., which will feature eucharistic adoration. He will be joined by Vicki Thorn (Rachel Project) and 16 priests from around the state. This event required pre-registration and is full; please pray for those gathered for this rally.

On Sunday the deacons of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will provide a Holy Hour for Life. This will take place in nearly 90 parishes between 7 and 8 p.m. Through the deacons’ Holy Hour for Life, we will have the opportunity to be in solidarity with all who are seeking to protect the dignity of all human life. Check the Archdiocese of Milwaukee website,, for the HHFL nearest you.

And on Monday, Jan. 23, as an archdiocese we will observe the National Day of Prayer and Penance. I invite you to a Respect Life Mass celebrated at St. Jerome Parish, 995 S. Silver Lake St., Oconomowoc at 7 p.m. The seminarians of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary will lead the recitation of the Rosary for Life at 6:30 p.m.

Many of us would like to participate in everything that is offered, but it is impossible. However, we can all do something. We can pray and put life issues on the agenda of our parishes. It is the church’s teaching. We all know that life is fragile. Life needs to be protected in order to have an opportunity to fulfill what God wills for us all. Jesus came among us and joined us in all things except sin. We see the face of Christ in the unborn and know that life is sacred.