Thursday, October 20, 2011

Archbishop Nienstedt: How one pro-life decision changed the world


October has been designated as Respect Life Month. As Pope Benedict XVI has so often reminded us, abortion is a violation of the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church — a lack of justice for the child who is killed; a lack of justice for the society deprived of that child’s contribution.

Here is a real story about a woman who respected life, and her choice made a difference in virtually every one of our lives:

In 1954, Joann Schiebel, a young, unmarried college student, discovered that she was pregnant. At the time, her options were very limited. She could have had an abortion — but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.

She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and did not want to interrupt her education. Thus, Joann chose instead to give birth to the baby and put him up for adoption. And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.

Yes, this is the same Steve Jobs who died on Oct. 5 from pancreatic cancer. He was, as a reporter from the Washington Post commented, “The brilliant, material co-founder of Apple, who introduced simple, elegantly designed computers for people who were more interested in what technology could do rather than how it was done.”

If you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod, or anything remotely resembling these, you can thank Steve Jobs. If you have had an Apple or Macintosh computer in the past, you can thank Steve Jobs.

But at the same time, you can also thank Joann Schiebel for giving the gift of life.

The theme of this year’s Respect Life program is, “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Here, Jesus refers not only to the hope of eternal life, but life in this world as well.

Our culture and even our own government promote policies that are opposed to the true good of individuals and families (see my column of Sept. 15).

The media assist this agenda by promoting a distorted view of sexuality that is “free” of any commitment to the reproductive end of the act of sexual intercourse. In this view, contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good, and abortion becomes a necessary back-up measure when those same contraceptives fail.

While the number of abortions in the State of Minnesota continues to fall, it has consistently risen at Planned Parenthood, which now performs 35 percent of all abortions in the state.

And, unfortunately, the greatest number of Hispanic abortions has regularly occurred there as well. It has been recorded that 41 percent of abortion clients at Planned Parenthood admitted to using contraceptives at the time of conception (see Prolife Action News, October 2011). Yet, because of the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling of 1995, taxpayers like you and me continue to pay for elective abortions as well as the availability of contraceptives.

Some conscientious and courageous witnesses are making a difference in this area by joining in the 40 Days for Life campaign that began outside of Regions Hospital in St. Paul on Sept. 28 and will continue until Nov. 6. Various church groups will “Adopt-a-Day” to lead prayers and to keep vigil. I will be present for the closing hour of these 40 days on Nov. 6.

Of course, the respect we are called to show human life in the womb is the same respect we are called to show human life outside the womb.

October is also, “Bullying Awareness Month,” a time to remind ourselves and one another of the inherent dignity of each person as a son and daughter of God. We must not tolerate derogatory remarks or physical abuse of persons who are deemed “different from others.”

“Might” does not make “right” and teachers, parents as well as others in authority need to be vigilant to any signs that a young person may be bullied by another or by others.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.”

That applies so appropriately to the person of Steve Jobs, now gone to God. Who could imagine our world today, if he had never been allowed to be born?

God bless you. The Catholic Spirit

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