By Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan
Archdiocese of New York
It took place only a couple of days after I was ordained auxiliary bishop of my home archdiocese of St. Louis, back in 2001. De Smet Jesuit High School had invited me to offer the opening Mass of the school year, and I was very much looking forward to it.
Until, that is, the president of the student body rose to welcome me: “Bishop Dolan, we’re glad you’re here … even though you are a big loser!”
There were gasps! Saddened, concerned faces of the faculty and sweat from me. Then, he went on: “Yes, you are a loser. But, you’re in good company. So am I; so are all of us students here. The world thinks we’re all nerds, filled with stupid ideals about faith, morality, the church, prayer, virtue, love, and eternal life. And they can’t understand why we would follow the biggest loser of them all, Jesus, rejected and ridiculed on a cross, a big flop. It’s good to welcome another loser, Bishop Dolan. You remind us that, in reality, we are all winners, that Jesus is our victor, that the church is our first-place team.”
As is obvious, I’ve never forgotten that stunning welcome.
That comes to mind as our country has decided that our advocacy for the life of the innocent, fragile baby in the womb is a lost cause. Our exhilaration at the long-fought-for-and-awaited overturning of the calamitous Roe vs. Wade decision of January 22, 1973, has turned into depression as we watch state after state consider protection for the extremes of abortion on demand.
“You’re losers,” the well-oiled abortionists snicker, applauded by those who consider themselves “winners” — much of Hollywood, corporate millionaires, academics, the news media, and poll-reading politicians.
They have a point. It can seem pretty bleak. True, there are encouraging facts as well, like the strong preference of most Americans for limits on abortion, and support for lifegiving alternative measures such as adoption, and help for moms with a crisis pregnancy.
Still, it doesn’t look good. It actually kind of looks like Good Friday afternoon, with many passionate pro-lifers worried and frustrated, and well-intentioned allies wondering if we should give-up and just accept the reality that we’ve lost this noble cause.
It’s time for us “losers” to buck-up. In Nativity scenes all around us, we see the Holy Infant come into less than ideal circumstances and are reminded that our cause – – protection of innocent, fragile human life, the tiny infant in the womb – – remains the most pressing issue of justice and civil rights in our beloved country.
We “losers” know that abortion on demand — protected by law, for any reason or none at all — up to the actual birth of the baby, financed by our taxes (and forced upon the majority of physicians and nurses deeply opposed to it) is nothing less than a national shame and tragedy and it must be changed if civilization is to endure.
Why are we shocked when we read that the rate of suicides is so high; that high school students brag about using assault weapons on their classmates; that so many risk their health, and even their life, with illegal drugs; that aggression, weapons, slaughter, and war is commonplace, the convenient answer to any problem.
Why are we surprised? If, as Pope Francis reminds us, we can “throw away” the little baby in the sanctuary of the womb, or “hire a hitman to remove that life deemed inconvenient,” how can we shudder at the other examples — suicide, mass shootings, drugs, war, violence — of the “culture of death.”
Those who push abortion on demand are the actual losers. The baby aborted always loses; the mom — and dad — suffer a sense of loss, even when they deny or suppress it; countries lose as we enter a demographic winter; and culture is defeated as the sacredness of human life is jackbooted.
Ask no more why our society has become coarse, raw, vitriolic, violent, callous.
As Mother Teresa observed, “A nation that allows and promotes the killing of innocent pre-born babies is the poorest in the world.”
A new year is before us; in 2024 let us “losers” move from the grief of Good Friday to the resurrected Truth of Easter Sunday. Life wins. It’s time for the baby to win.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan is the archbishop of New York.