OneLife LA was an amazing day. I was so happy to see so many of you come out to be with us at Exposition Park.
It really was a moving and memorable day for me, a joyful and inspiring celebration of human life and human dignity.
From the start with OneLife LA, we wanted to show the deep connections of the Church’s vision for life. And now in our third year, I really feel that we are making that happen.
Because every life is loved by God, every life must be welcomed and loved and protected — from the moment that life is conceived in the womb, until the time the person dies a natural death.
These are simple truths. But it is taking our society a long time to learn these truths.
There is no question that abortion is the fundamental injustice in American society. If a child has no right to develop in the womb and be brought into this world — then there is no foundation for any human rights in society.
So we need to stick together for the cause of life. We need to keep praying and we need to keep working. We need to keep standing up for those who have no voice in our society — especially the child in the womb, the elderly and the terminally ill, the disabled. We need to always bear witness to the holiness and beauty of life — every life.
This weekend we kick off Catholic Schools Week. I will be marking the day with a special Mass at our Cathedral High School.
Our schools are strong, thanks be to God. Our school system is one of the largest in California, public or private and it is one of the great services that we provide to our people and to the wider society.
Numbers do not tell every story, but in our case the numbers illustrate our commitment to serve all of our people and ensuring that no one who wants a Catholic education will be turned away.
This year in our elementary schools we have about 53,000 students — 47 percent are Latino and 10 percent are Asian and Pacific Islanders. In our high schools we have about 26,000 students — 37 percent Latino and 14 percent Asian and Pacific Islanders. And thanks to the generosity of our Catholic people and our Catholic Education Foundation, we are providing scholarships totaling more than $13 million to more than 10,000 elementary and high school students.
And the success of our Catholic schools, especially in educating lower-income and minority students, remains one of the great untold stories in American education.
For our Catholic schools, education means more than simply communicating facts or developing skill sets. Education is about enabling students to know what is real and to be able to engage with that reality.
We live in a culture that is profoundly skeptical that anything is objectively true or that there is any objective “reality.” We here a lot of talk about “fake news,” “reality TV” and “virtual reality.” This reflects the larger sense in our culture that reality or truth is whatever we perceive it to be — that you have your “truth” and I have mine, that what is “real” depends on our own personal point of view.
In this cultural environment, a Catholic education is more important than ever. Because at the core of Catholic education is Jesus Christ who reveals God’s plan of love for the world and for every person.
Catholic education is based on certain assumptions about what the human person is for and what the world is about. We teach our students to know that the created world speaks to us of God’s love and truth and that our existence is part of God’s plan of loving goodness.
We know that God has created us with reason and freedom to enable us to discover the truth about reality and to live according to that truth. So the proper function of education is to be transformative. It is to help form young men and women so they become the people whom God created them to be.
We are educating for the truth about life. We want to help students develop the interests, the knowledge and skills and the habits of behavior they need to engage reality as Catholics. We want them to be able to truly live in reality and through that reality be united with the God who loves them.
Pray for me this week and I will pray for you. Let’s pray together this week for the mission of our Catholic schools — and for the students, teachers, administrators and benefactors who make our schools possible.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother to help all of us to keep working for a society of love and truth, solidarity and service. A society where no one is a stranger and everyone is loved and cared for.