Events surrounding 48th annual March for Life held virtually amplify priority of protecting life

Laura Keener, Editor.

“I set before you today good and evil, a blessing or a curse, life or death. Choose life.”

“We just heard those words from the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy,” said Bishop Roger Foys as he began his homily, Jan. 29.

The Mass, celebrated by Bishop Foys at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption and live streamed for Catholic school students in the Diocese of Covington, was for the legal protection of life in the womb. Typically at this time, Bishop Foys would celebrate this Mass with hundreds of high school students in Washington, D.C., just moments before the March for Life.

This year, due to the pandemic and civil and political unrest, organizers of the 48th annual March for Life transitioned the events surrounding the March to a virtual platform and encouraged demonstrators to pray and witness at home. About 50 people representating the thousands of would-be marchers, marched peacefully in Washington, demanding the reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, essentially on demand, in the United States.

Acknowledging the changes that have taken place in the lives of everyone, especially teachers and students as they have navigated online learning this past year, Bishop Foys reminded students that not everything has changed.

“Our faith is one of those things and the right to life is another,” he said. “The right to be born and the right to live, that has not changed — at least it should not. For the last 48 years people have been battling for the right to life — for the right to be born.”

Bishop Foys shared a 20-year-old commentary about a news article describing the slaughter of 30 range horses. In the article, investigators rightly expressed shock and outrage at the killing of the innocent animals. He then shared some statistics. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, over 60 million babies have been killed in the womb in the United States. For every three children born, one child is aborted.

“The names of those 60 million children would fill the Veterans Memorial Wall over 1,400 times,” Bishop Foys said. “Where is the national outpouring of shock, of anger, for these slaughtered innocents in the womb?”

Referencing the Gospel reading from St. Luke, Bishop Foys said that the apostles were arguing over who would be first in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus called over a child, who in those times had no stature or standing or rights.

“Jesus told his apostles, unless you become like one of these — a precious child — you won’t even enter the kingdom of God,” Bishop Foys said. “Jesus held children in great esteem; not because they were smart or had any talent or special degrees or special heritage, but because they were innocent. They had not yet been corrupted by the values, or lack thereof, of the world. What do we do in our country? We legalize their death.”

The pandemic, Bishop Foys said, has offered a unique time for everyone to reflect and prioritize what and who is most important in life.

“Abortion of course has to be first,” he said. “How can we talk about priorities and what is most important if we snuff out life itself? That is why it must be our priority. God gives us life and God decides when to take it back. God is the creator.”

Bishop Foys said that the pandemic, itself, is another pro-life issue. People are being asked to do simple things — wearing a mask, social distancing, washing hands, not having non-essential meetings and groups and events, not traveling — in order to protect themselves and others — in order to protect life, most often the elderly and those with frail health.

“Being pro-life is more than just being against abortion, it is doing something positive to respect life at all its stages,” Bishop Foys said. “So we gather here, in this magnificent church, to pray for an end to the scourge of abortion, but also to pray for the courage to protect life at every stage of life, to do those things that protect the life of everyone. We pray that almighty God will have mercy on us and on all those who have led us to this dreadful time in our country, where for nearly a half century now, 60 million innocent lives have been snuffed out. If a life of a baby in his mother’s womb is not precious to us, then no life is.”

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As Deanery Pastoral Council discuss annual plan, Bishop Foys encourages patience and unity

Laura Keener, Editor.

At the annual diocesan Deanery Pastoral Council convocation, Jan. 23, Bishop Roger Foys encouraged the Curia staff and DPC members to embrace the times we are living in and to strive for unity during this challenging year.

“These have been strange months, these last 11 months,” Bishop Foys said as he began to address the 143 attendees, 103 of whom were joining the meeting virtually. “I hear a lot about getting back to normal. Normal is relative. What we are doing here, this morning, is normal for a pandemic.”

The DPC convocation is held each year so that Curia directors can present their offices plan for the upcoming fiscal year, July 1, 2021 — June 30, 2022. Jamie Schroeder, chancellor, organizes and leads the convocation. She and diocesan directors were meeting in Bishop Howard Memorial Auditorium while the rest of the Curia staff and DPC members logged in from home.

In her opening remarks Mrs. Schroeder reminded the DPC that while the Curia staff meets three times a year to discuss the annual plan, this convocation is, “the one meeting that we bring everyone together to discuss the plan … today’s meeting is truly a unique opportunity for the DPC to interact with the Curia staff.”

Sometime between Jan. 24 through March 21, each DPC member will meet with his or her Parish Council to discuss the diocesan annual plan and to gather feedback. Mrs. Schroeder acknowledged that with the ongoing COVID-19 protocols, meetings will be more of a challenge this year but that each parish’s feedback is needed and appreciated.

“Get in touch with your pastor and talk to him about the best way for you to communicate with your Parish Council and generate feedback,” she said.

Also before March 21, the dean of each deanery will meet with the DPC members in his deanery to gather each parish’s commentary. That feedback will be sent to the diocese in one document.

As diocesan staff and DPC members meet the challenges of this year, Bishop Foys encouraged them to live in the present moment and to take comfort and peace in those things which have not changed.

“We have to put ourselves in the times in which we live — to live in the present moment. If we keep trying to live the way things were before March 2020, we will get very frustrated and anxious and angry,” he said. “What we have to do now is what is normal for living during a pandemic — wearing a mask, safe distancing, washing hands, not gathering in groups — that’s all normal for now. And remembering that not everything has changed — our faith has not changed, God has not changed, the sacraments have not changed, the love we have for our friends and family has not changed.”

Bishop Foys said that he is often reminded of Pope Francis’ March 2020 comments about the pandemic. Addressing an empty piazza as Italy and most Europe was shuttered due to the pandemic, Pope Francis said, “This is not a punishment from God; but it is God telling us we have to live differently.”

“I keep going back to this because, I think it was a profound moment in the life of the Church and the life of this pandemic,” said Bishop Foys. “God is telling us we have to live differently. I believe that — I believe that with all my heart. God is telling us to live differently, not only spiritually but also practically.”

Bishop Foys also encouraged patience and wisdom as vaccinations against the coronavirus begin to be administered in the diocese, ushering in what is hoped to be the end of the pandemic.

“The pandemic is going to end eventually, but it’s not going to be a like a light switch going off,” he said. “Anyone who thinks the vaccine is a magic bullet, that I will be completely immune and I can do whatever I want once I’m vaccinated — that’s not what’s going to happen. We use the time we have now to do the best we can, certainly to protect our own lives but also the lives of those around us. The Holy Father also said, ‘This is a time when people need to come together and to emphasize the things that unite us not the things that divide us.’”

In his closing remarks, Bishop Foys thanked the Curia staff and DPC members for coming to gather virtually.

“It is only by working together that we can make a difference,” he said. “Remember Jesus’ prayer that all may be one. Jesus’ prayer was not for division or disunity or dissent but that all may be one.”