Bishop's Column

Divine Mercy and the Culture of Death

By Bishop James Conley 

On Good Friday, I joined Christians from around the city of Lincoln to pray at the Planned Parenthood abortion facility on south 48th Street, for an end to abortion, and for a flourishing of the culture of life. In the grey and rainy mist, we prayed for those who are involved in the abortion industry, for women and families in unexpected or crisis pregnancies without a sense of where to turn, and for children in the wombs of the mothers, being formed and nurtured for life.

Together, we prayed that our world would become a place in which the dignity and humanity of the unborn is respected, and in which women and families can come know the love and mercy of God, through the love of his Church, especially in situations of crisis or challenge.

We prayed that the unborn would be safe in the refuge of their mothers' wombs, and that their mothers would bask in the joyful and live-giving light of hope. Fittingly, we concluded our prayers with the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. “Where, if not in Divine Mercy,” asked Pope St. John Paul II, “can the world find refuge and the light of hope?”

God’s mercy is exactly what is needed to combat the culture of death, and to build a culture of life. “How greatly today’s world needs God’s mercy! In every continent, from the depth of human suffering, a cry for mercy seems to rise up,” wrote Pope St. John Paul II. “Wherever respect for life and human dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being. Mercy is needed in order to ensure that every injustice in the world will come to an end in the splendor of truth.”

We gathered on Good Friday to pray at a place which represents abortion, the profound evil of our time—which takes the life of an innocent child, and causes grave harm to its mother. We gathered at a place which has become a modern day Calvary, where pure innocence meets deadly evil. Abortion is disguised in the language of choice and empowerment, but abortion disempowers, objectifies, and wounds. And that is exactly why we prayed for the Lord’s mercy.

“The cross,” wrote Pope St. John Paul II, from which Divine Mercy flows, “is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence.” At Planned Parenthood, we prayed for a touch of eternal love upon the painful wounds which cause abortion, and which are caused by abortion.

Many of you have read that as we concluded praying, there was a terrible accident. A pickup truck skidded on a slick road, jumped the curb, and drove onto the sidewalk where we were gathered. Five people were hit by the pickup, and another was knocked down by those thrown by the truck. Some suffered serious injuries, though, thank God, none were life-threatening. There were two of us priests still on the scene, and we had the opportunity to pray with those who were injured before they were treated. Those who gathered with us also, quite immediately, began to pray.

After I got home that evening, I found myself wondering why something so terrible had happened. I don’t think we’ll have a full answer to that question until we are in heaven with God. But I do think that God might bring, from that terrible accident, “a touch of eternal love” upon very painful wounds.

Accidents are unsettling. When the accident happened, our entire city took note. Media crews arrived almost immediately. Many people expressed concern for the injured. That accident was a reminder that life is precious, and that human dignity is innate, and undeniable. Perhaps it might remind people that all life is precious—even unborn life. Perhaps the sense of unsettledness caused by the accident might lead some to consider why some lives seem so naturally worthy of protection, while the lives of the unborn, and their mothers, are so casually disposed of, disregarded or dismissed.

Perhaps that unfortunate accident outside of Planned Parenthood, and on Good Friday, might be a reminder that there is nothing accidental about abortion.

Perhaps the love and concern expressed by so many people for those who were injured might be extended through the quiet prompting of Divine Mercy, to the unborn and to their mothers, who are sorely in need of love, concern, and respect.

The accident which occurred at Planned Parenthood was very unfortunate. For some, it will have lasting effect. We must pray for the young driver of the truck. But unified with the cross of Jesus Christ, perhaps it might take on a different meaning. Perhaps, unified with Christ’s cross, it might bring about “a touch of eternal love,” and a “light of hope” for a world longing for Christ.

This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday. Please join me in praying for the unborn, for their mothers, and for those who were injured on Good Friday. Please include in your prayers, the driver of the truck. Please also join me in praying that the Lord might use something, even a frightening accident, as an occasion of Divine Mercy—through the power of the Cross—which heals every wound and frees every heart.

See also: Pro-lifers hit by truck in accident after prayer vigil

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Bishop Conley

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