Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bishop Finn on March for Life / Pilgimage to Rome

Following is Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn's column from the upcoming edition of The Catholic Key:

A Pilgrimage to Rome in the Year of St. Paul

During recent travels I had the opportunity to participate in some meaningful events. As I reported in a previous column, I met up with our local Pro-Life witnesses, and a few hundred thousand others in Washington D.C. for the observance of the January 22nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As I had feared, President Obama rescinded the Mexico City policy which until now had prohibited the use of U.S. foreign aid to other countries for abortion services.

Notwithstanding the President following through on his promised abortion agenda, I was encouraged by reports I received from parishes throughout the Diocese participating this past weekend in the U.S. Bishops’ postcard campaign against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) and other similar efforts aimed at removing limitations on abortion. I want to thank many of our pastors who preached about these potential threats to life. I pray we Catholic citizens will have a powerful and positive influence on our elected leaders in this necessary advocacy.

From Washington I went to Rome. My trip there came in time for me to celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul (January 25), in this “Year of St. Paul,” marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of the apostle and fearless preacher to the Gentiles. I was privileged to be able to participate in Second Vespers at the Basilica of “St. Paul outside the walls” with Pope Benedict XVI. The Sunday celebration of Evening Prayer also came at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and involved representatives of the Orthodox churches and some Christian denominations.

The day was historic in another way. It was exactly fifty years earlier, January 25, 1959, that Pope John XXIII, in the same basilica, announced his intention to convene the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. A half century later, Pope Benedict is completely dedicated, as were his predecessors, to the substantive and authentic implementation of the Council. In so many ways the “ups and downs” of the last generation have begun to reach a serene equilibrium. With the next years we will see a more faithful translation of the Roman Missal. The embrace of our rich heritage in the reintroduction of the extraordinary form helps us to understand better our roots, and recapture the beauty and sanctity of the Holy Sacrifice which the Council affirmed as the “source and summit” of the whole Christian life.

While in Rome I was able to spend some time with three of our seminarians at the North American College. Matthew Bartulica is in his third year of theology. Adam Haake and Adam Johnson are completing the first semester of their first year of theology. They are working hard and preparing, as are our 23 other seminarians, for service to the Church in accord with God’s call. I assured them of our thoughts and prayers and I ask you to pray for all these men, that they will be generous and trusting in the pursuit of their vocation. Pray for more vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

On Wednesday, January 28, I was able to greet the Holy Father personally at the General Audience. I extended greetings from our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in Missouri and promised him our prayers and fidelity. He is a great inspiration to the world, and as Successor to St. Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ, he remains a true source and sign of our unity.

Having renewed my allegiance to Peter, and drawn strength from the example and prayers of Paul, I was glad to return home and take up, with you God’s faithful people, the work of the Gospel in the midst of our community.