My friends, I want to welcome you tonight to St. John Seminary, and I want to thank the University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and the Vita Institute. I am grateful for this partnership we are developing here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Recently someone shared with me an article that was published by Mother Jones magazine and the group, Pro Publica.1
This article talked about how private foundations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to create what the article called an “abortion-research complex.”
What the article described is a kind of “community” of academics, scientists and donors — all committed to promoting research aimed at expanding abortion and contraception in our country.
And their work has been influential. The Supreme Court relied on their “research” in striking down the Texas law on women’s health and abortion clinics. The Food and Drug Administration used it to loosen regulations on abortion-causing drugs. Here in California a few years ago, legislators used the work of these researchers to justify a law that allows midwives and nurses to perform abortions.
Many of you probably saw this article that I’m talking about. But it struck me that this is why we are here tonight.
We are living in a society that has become rapidly secularized and hostile to religion and traditional family and community values.
More and more, those who teach and govern and shape our culture are using the raw power of public policy and the media to impose their viewpoints. And they are not afraid to deny our religious liberty and freedom of conscience if we disagree with them.
We see this in the aggressive promotion of abortion and contraception and physician assisted suicide. We also see this in the debates about same-sex marriage and gender identity.
To build a culture of life in this society — it’s going to take more than the conversion of hearts. It will require the conversion of minds. The conversion of our secular elites — our intellectuals and our political and cultural leaders.
My point is this, my friends: Your work and your witness are absolutely essential to the future of our society. We need men and women of faith and professionalism in our universities and colleges and high schools. In our parishes and ministries. In our research facilities and hospitals.
So thank you for your witness. I know it can be lonely trying to be a Christian, trying to be pro-life, in some of your institutions.
And I also know — as you do — that the legislature here in California is trying to make it harder for Christian colleges to stay true to their identity and values.
So we need to come together. We need to be more organized and more intentional about the work we do and why we do it. And we need to stand strong and insist on our freedom to serve God and follow Christ — in our own lives and in our institutions.
That is why I am excited about this partnership with Vita Institute and our Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
Our vision here in Los Angeles is what we call “OneLife LA.” In everything we do — in all our advocacy, education and works of service — we are trying to proclaim God’s beautiful vision for creation and for human life.
One key to this vision is creating a new intellectual community. It is the only way we are going to evangelize this culture and convert this culture.
My friends, we need a new Christian intellectual community and we need a new Christian humanism that is rooted in our beliefs. Our beliefs about creation; about the Providence of God; and about the sanctity and dignity of the human person created in the image of God.
So this is exciting tonight — to see these new beginnings.
I pray that this will be a time when we can build friendships and fellowship and find new ways to collaborate to build the culture of life.
May Our Blessed Mother Mary watch over you and your families. And may God bless you.
1. Nina Martin, “Behind the Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision, More than a Decade of Privately Funded Research,” Pro Publica (July 14, 2016). At https://www.propublica.org/article/supreme-court-abortion-decision-more-than-decade-privately-funded-research