By Bishop James Conley
In early January, the city of Lincoln reported that there had been no homicides in the city during the entire year of 2017. It had been 26 years since the last time the city recorded no homicides taking place.
This is great news for the city of Lincoln, and an accomplishment for which our police, first responders, and emergency room personnel can be proud. In fact, all of us can be proud to live in a city in which violent crime is on the decline, and the murder rate has declined all the way to zero.
But there is another reality that all of us must remember. In 2016, the last year for which data is available, 1,907 abortions were reported to have taken place in Nebraska, and 382 of those abortions took place in Lancaster County.
Abortion is the direct killing of an unborn child. Abortion is never justified, never morally permissible, never socially necessary. Abortion is a form of violence against women and unborn children. Abortion is always wrong.
Our state, and all of our communities, should be eager to see the abortion rate drop to zero, just as the homicide rate has. The Lord is calling us to continue to work hard and pray fervently for an end to abortion, and to believe that it is possible to bring to end the practice of abortion.
That is why the March for Life is so important. This week, I’ll join high school students, college students, priests, religious, and families from the Diocese of Lincoln to walk, pray, and witness to the sanctity of life in Washington, D.C. We will march because we know that abortion is wrong: it ends lives, harms women, and disrupts communities. We will march because we believe that we can bring an end to abortion in this country.
The theme of the March for Life this year is that “Love Saves Lives.” It’s true. Pope St. John Paul II said that to end abortion, we must build a “civilization of love.” That is the mission we share. A civilization of love recognizes the dignity of mothers, fathers, and their children. A civilization of love provides support to the poor, the uninsured, the unemployed, the lonely, and the hopeless. A civilization of love believes that everyone is worthy of being loved, and that everyone is called to love generously.
A civilization of love will bring an end to abortion.
I’m proud of the five buses of high school students from the Diocese of Lincoln who will travel to the March for Life. I’m proud of the college students who will join them. I’m proud of the priests, religious, teachers, organizers, and parents who will join them. I’m proud of the families who will travel to the March for Life. And I’m proud of every Catholic in the Diocese of Lincoln who is committed to building a culture of life.
This week, I ask every Catholic in our diocese to ask the Lord how he might be calling you to new, or deeper, or more generous work to build a civilization of love. Ask the Lord, as I will, how we can build a stronger culture of life. Ask him what act of love he might be calling you to. And ask him for the courage to follow that call. We can do better for women, children, families and society.
This week, I also ask each one of you to pray for an end to abortion: to offer a rosary, or some time before the Blessed Sacrament, or a small penance or mortification. Our prayers beget love. And Love Saves Lives.