Bishop's Column

Bishop Bruskewitz: apostle of joyful hope

Last Friday, Bishop Emeritus Fabian Bruskewitz was honored by Human Life International for his long-standing pro-life leadership. Bishop Bruskewitz received the Cardinal von Galen award, named for Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen. It was a privilege to be with him when he was honored.

August Graf Cardinal von Galen was a count, a bishop, and a hero. He was known as the Lion of Münster. Cardinal von Galen was the bishop of Münster, Germany, at the time of the Second World War. When National Socialism came to prominence, he spoke out against the horrible atrocities committed against Jewish people, against Catholics, and against the mentally ill and handicapped. Despite the persecution of the Nazi party, Cardinal von Galen advocated tirelessly for an end to Germany’s culture of death. "As a German," he famously preached, "and as a decent citizen, I demand Justice."

Bishop Bruskewitz was honored with the Cardinal von Galen award because throughout his priesthood he has demanded justice for the unborn. Bishop Bruskewitz thinks clearly and precisely, and he expects others to do the same. If a hospital, or university, or a political leader, claims a Catholic identity, Bishop Bruskewitz expects them to act like a Catholic person, or a Catholic institution. Bishop Bruskewitz, like Cardinal von Galen, has never feared persecution, or rejection, or even mockery. He’s stood for the truth, and most especially for the unborn —because that’s what the Lord asks all of us to do.

In so many ways, I’m honored to follow Bishop Bruskewitz as the ninth bishop of Lincoln, but this is particularly true with regard to his pro-life convictions. I pray regularly that I might be the same kind of witness to the dignity of all human life that Bishop Bruskewitz is. And, like you, I often wonder how people like Bishop Bruskewitz or Cardinal von Galen retain their commitment to our cause, even when it seems like all is lost.

I think I’ve come to understand the answer. Lately, I’ve been praying on Tuesday mornings with a group of college students, out in front of Lincoln’s only abortion facility. This is the day the abortionist travels to Lincoln to kill babies. We pray the Sorrowful Mysteries, appropriately.

It is a dreadful place—a place that profits from misery and despair. But I’ve been praying in solidarity with mothers and fathers, with priests and sisters, with students and children. And I’ve watched the hope and inspiration in their eyes. They have hope because they know that when we pray at a place of depravity, we’re praying at Calvary. And because we’re at Calvary, we know that the resurrection is at hand.

Like Calvary, the abortion clinic is a place where pure innocence and the dark of evil collide. But our faith reminds us that Christ has already claimed victory over evil through his cross and resurrection. At the epicenter of the culture of death, life—blessed, holy, sanctified life, will be the victor. Why? Because Jesus Christ has conquered Calvary. He’s conquered the culture of death. Our part is to join our prayers to his, to join our suffering to his, to join our work to his—and to wait, with joyful hope, for the triumph of Christ’s resurrection.

Cardinal von Galen hoped in the resurrection. So does Bishop Bruskewitz. I pray that each of us hopes in the resurrection. And I pray that you’ll join me in prayer each Tuesday, at the abortion clinic. Together, we can follow after the example of Bishop Bruskewitz and Blessed August von Galen. We can wait at Calvary with out Lord. And, together, we can hope for the goodness that God will bring.

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