May Our Gaze Be Ever On The Poor & Most Vulnerable Among Us

I offer a special word of thanks to the schools in the Cape Girardeau area that collected donations for the All Schools Mass held Oct. 10 in Notre Dame Regional High School. Altogether, $1,458 was collected to support LifeHouse in Cape Girardeau.

At a recent pro-life gathering in Cape Girardeau, the speaker hailed the fact that Missouri is a “pro-life state.” This is the third time I’ve heard that comment made and I’m getting a little nervous. We cannot be lulled into a false sense of security. The forces promoting abortion are focusing their efforts on petitions to amend Missouri’s constitution. While each of the 11 initiative petitions varies in its scope, any amendment to the state constitution involving a pro-abortion initiative would be devastating to life.

The 11 initiative petitions would amend Missouri’s constitution to provide in part: that the government shall not deny or infringe upon a person’s fundamental right to reproductive freedom, which entails the right to make and carry out decisions about all matters relating to reproductive healthcare, including but not limited to prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, birth control, abortion care, miscarriage care, and respectful birthing conditions.

In addition, each petition would provide in this or very similar language that: no person shall be penalized, prosecuted, or otherwise subjected to adverse action based on their actual, potential, perceived, or alleged pregnancy outcomes, including but not limited to miscarriage, still birth, or abortion. Nor shall any person assisting a person in exercising their right to reproductive freedom would that person’s consent be penalized, prosecuted, or otherwise subjected to adverse action for doing so.
The 11 petitions vary in other ways. Some would allow Missouri to require parental consent before an abortion while others would not. Some would allow restrictions on government funding of abortion, while others would not. Some purport to restrict abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy or after viability, while others do not, but only as long as the government does not deny or restrict abortion “to protect the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant person.”

How should we respond? Again, we cannot think that the issue is said and done. I think we can learn from the mistakes made in Kansas. We need to rally our troops. I envision our parishes being centers for voter registration to get out the Catholic vote. We need to study the language of these initiative petitions, so we clearly know what they are proposing and for what we are voting. It’s not just abortion at this point. It’s also about parental consent and government funding.

The difficulty is that we do not know which of these 11 initiative petitions to amend Missouri’s constitution will actually move forward. But the reality is this: we cannot rest on what has been done in the past. This truly is a battle for life. Depending on the proposal, Missouri could become a state with extreme abortion. Depending on which proposal, we know that even the most basic medical and safety protections will be removed. Depending on the proposal, late-term abortions will be allowed for virtually any reason. Depending on the proposal, parental consent will be removed. Depending on the amendment, taxpayers would be forced to pay for elective abortions, including late-term abortions. The November 2024 election cycle is going to be ugly, a battle, but it is a battle worth fighting because it is the battle for life.

You’ll notice in the center of this edition of the diocesan newspaper, details surrounding the 2023 Bishop’s Collection for Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, the annual collection for the important charitable arm of my ministry. Each year, the weekend before Thanksgiving, we have the opportunity to come together as a Catholic community and put our faith into action through the annual Bishop’s Collection for Catholic Charities, November 18-19, this year. This date also coincides with the Seventh World Day of the Poor, established by Pope Francis. The 2023 theme: “Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor” (Tob 4:7). As the Diocese’s charitable apostolate, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri makes certain that our gaze is ever-steady on the poor and most vulnerable among us. Offering more than just a one-time hand out, Catholic Charities works one-on-one with individuals and families to provide the help and hope they need to achieve long-term success. Each year, thousands of people are assisted through the many programs and services of Catholic Charities, due in large part to the goodness and generosity of donors such as yourself. I am proud of the work Catholic Charities provides in the name of all Catholics across southern Missouri. Every family deserves a home, every veteran deserves restored pride, and every homeless mother deserves a new beginning. As we look to this Thanksgiving, let us recall our many gifts and blessings. Then, sacrificially and prayerfully, make a gift to Catholic Charities. Together, through your generosity, we will continue to Reach Out, Provide Hope, and Change Lives.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”  

Published in the November 10, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: CCSOMO