By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Don’t let society succumb to the false idols of individualism, where nothing else matters but me, and materialism, in which lives are measured by their usefulness and productivity to me.
Instead, build communities of solidarity where even lives of the weakest, the most vulnerable and the most marginalized are deeply valued, Cardinal Sean O’Malley told pro-life leaders from 51 dioceses July 27.
Celebrating Mass at St. Peter Cathedral in Kansas City, Kan., for pro-life directors attending the annual Pro-Life Leadership Conference in Kansas City, Mo., the Boston prelate in his homily denounced the idea that “it’s my life and I can choose to do with it as I please.”
“It pushes people into isolation where they make terrible decisions,” he said.
A mother in a crisis pregnancy can then choose abortion. A sick and elderly person can choose suicide rather than to “be a burden on others,” said Cardinal O’Malley, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
All decisions deeply affect others, Cardinal O’Malley said.
“If someone moves into a neighborhood, paints his house purple and orange, and fills up his backyard with bathtubs would his neighbors say, ‘It’s his property and he can do what he wants,’” he said.
“It’s not a matter of we can do whatever we want and not have an effect on others,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “Abortion and euthanasia cheapen all human lives.”
Every life is a gift from God, as well as the planet we share together, Cardinal O’Malley said, echoing Pope Francis’ recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.
“There is a danger in becoming so fascinated by the gifts that forget the giver. We then allow God to become like an anonymous and distant benefactor in our lives,” he said.
“The culture of death is part of the materialism and extreme individualism of the day,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
“Pope Francis is offering us an antidote to these evils. The antidote is solidarity and unity,” he said.
“The pro-life community needs to go about building community (among people) and especially a community of caring and compassion,” the cardinal said.
“That is why we must not only change unjust laws, we must change lives and we will do that by building communities of solidarity and love,” he said.
Cardinal O’Malley praised the pro-life leaders for their work, but had special praise for Project Rachel, a nationwide ministry that reaches out to women and men who have gone through an abortion.
“Project Rachel is our field hospital,” reaching out to the spiritually and emotionally wounded,” he said.
“I applaud this outreach to men and women who have fallen into the abortion trap and now live in spiritual trauma,” he said.
He said post-abortive women are like the lost sheep in the parable of Jesus, in which the good shepherd leaves the flock of 99 to find and return the one that is lost.
“Who is more on the periphery than those who have experienced the tragedy of abortion in their lives,” Cardinal O’Malley asked.
“We are on this earth to take care of each other and to protect our gifts,” he said.