Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Matt Malone, S.J.January 22, 2021
A young woman is seen with her child during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

The March for Life will look different this year. Because of the threat of Covid-19, the annual march and rally in Washington, D.C., will be smaller and livestreamed. Pro-life activists, clergy and civic leaders across the country are being encouraged to participate in virtual events to pray and witness against 48 years of legalized abortion in this country. 

But America’s pro-life commitment is unchanged. We are allied with the sentiments expressed in the statements by the Society of Jesus of the United States, “Standing for the Unborn,” which was published in America on May 26, 2003, and “Protecting the Least Among Us,” published on Jan. 18, 2018. As is our annual custom, we republish excerpts from these texts here as an expression of our solidarity with the women and men who will bear witness against the evil of abortion this month, whether online or in the nation’s capital

As we Jesuits survey our culture, we cannot help but see abortion as part of the massive injustices in our society.... Since the January 22, 1973, Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, more than 55 million American lives have been ended by abortion. Among all the justice issues we as a society should view with grave concern, abortion is a key social evil. We approach this topic as pastors, scholars, social activists, and educators. There is no part of our ministry that is untouched by the devastating consequences of abortion and there is, therefore, no environment in which we find ourselves that does not have some role to play in addressing this complex issue.

Pope Francis writes, “No one must say they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas…. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and social justice” (Evangelii Gaudium, 201). In the same way, the Society of Jesus today asks its members and collaborators to find ever new and creative ways to bring the protection of the unborn and solidarity with mothers in difficult situations into whatever mission they serve.

There is no part of our ministry that is untouched by the devastating consequences of abortion. 

As we continue to engage on the topic of abortion, we wish to proceed in a way that rests on the following insights:

First, the foundation of the Catholic moral tradition is the dignity of the human person. The second key insight of Catholic moral life is that we are social beings and that solidarity matters. The social acceptance of abortion is a profound moral failure on both counts. It undermines the claim that every life is infused with God-given dignity, and it often pretends such decisions can be relegated to individual choice without having negative consequences on society as a whole. Sacred Scripture, the witness of early Christianity, Catholic social teaching, and the magisterium consistently teach that we cannot in good conscience ignore this tragedy.

Second, Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit history offer unique lenses through which to view the topic of abortion that should deepen our resolve to work in this area. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are motivated from beginning to end by the laboring presence of God in creation and redemption. We are invited to co-labor, not because we are perfect, but because we are loved, and in recognizing God’s love for us we cannot but act on it. Jesuits throughout history have lived out this insight to transform the world, and we are asked to do the same today.

Success will not come through force of will; it will only come by changing hearts.

Third, beyond the actual content of “what” we say in making a case against abortion, it is critical to pay attention to “how” our defense of the unborn takes place. As St. Paul reminds us, we must “speak the truth with love” (Ephesians 4:15). Success will not come through force of will; it will only come by changing hearts. Therefore, we must always keep watch over our own hearts and ensure they are filled with the love and hope needed for this holy work.

Our Jesuit brother and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, highlights our concern: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this” (Evangelii Gaudium, 213). May we always listen to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and use our voice on their behalf.

More from America

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

The choice by Pope Francis to release “Laudate Deum” eight years after the publication of “Laudato Si’” is an unusual one, signaling an imminent climate crisis.
Peter KnoxNovember 30, 2023
Speaking International Theological Commission at the Vatican, Pope Francis told theologians that "One of the great sins we have witnessed is ‘masculinizing’ the church.”
A Reflection for the Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, by Cecilia González-Andrieu
Cecilia González-AndrieuNovember 30, 2023
Gloria Branciani alerted church authorities about Father Rupnik's behavior years ago, but her fight with the church system was, as she recalled, a lost battle.
Federica Tourn- OSV NewsNovember 30, 2023