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Mahony preaches life as 'seamless garment' to pro-life marchers.

WASHINGTON -- When New York Cardinal John O'Connor addresses the Right to Life Movement, "he comes on strong on life issues," said Ernest Lapre recently. Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, he said, was "too gentle."

Lapre, with his wife and three children, had traveled from Rhode Island to the annual Mass in Thanksgiving for the Gift of Human Life Jan. 22 at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Mahony was celebrant and homilist.

The basilica was packed with thousands of people who heard Mahony give a "seamless garment" homily in which he challenged all to see "how the gradual diminishing of the values of human life is transforming us into a nation which institutionalizes violence to rid itself of its problems."

Such violence, he said, discriminates against the unborn and appears in the increase of street killings, execution of prisoners and support for physician-assisted suicides. Mahony, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, said "no single life issue, whether regarding the dignity of birth or of death, can be addressed independently in our culture."

Mahony called for solutions to institutionalized discrimination against families that results in social and economic barriers erected "against a woman's choice to bear and raise children." Future national pro-life efforts, said Mahony, should engage all people in the "essential national dialogue on the respect for human life."

Areas of particular focus should include:

* The medical community, which must answer the positions of geneticists and perinatologists who would advocate abortion and which must challenge family planners who encourage abortion as a form of birth control.

* The legal community, which must address the need for more just laws and policies to defend the rights of families, the unborn and the poor.

* Educators, who must develop comprehensive programs current with developing issues in genetics, family planning and human rights.

* Local parishes, which must intensify prayer programs and work with other Christian churches in actions to promote change in public social policy and legal rights to protect all created human life.

Just before the blessing and dismissal, Mahony said he was struck by the large number of young participants. "Those of us in the old ranks can find hope in the young people here tonight," he said.

Lorraine Jamieson, 21, told NCR: "It's important for this nation to see that college students are willing to sacrifice by being present for mothers' sidewalk counseling and offering assistance in any way."

Jamieson is on a year's leave from Indiana University to work with a national group, Collegian Activists To Liberate Life.

Joyce Yusi, Sherborn, Mass., said: "I am so happy that the cardinal emphasized respect for all life. Making abortion so easy leads to other abuses in destroying life." Her companion, Mary Onorato from Boston, said: "The world is so out of kilter. Thirty million babies never get a chance to be born or realize the mission God intended for them."

Said Sue Villaric, a New Hampshire abortion protester and mother of four: "The cardinal spoke the truth tonight. Very few priests and bishops speak the truth today. I just say to him, straight on."

Sacred Heart pastor Father Roger K. Arnsparger, Corbin, Ky., said Mahony's homily was "magnificent, forthright, encouraging." Arnsparger, who works in mission parishes at the Appalachian border, agreed that specific programs are needed to promote prayer, dialogue and self-responsibility among the people.

Many of the pro-lifers who had received presidential support over the past 12 years from the Reagan and Bush administrations expressed fears similar to those of Mary Burkey, Columbus, Ohio, veteran antiabortion marcher and mother of eight.

Said Burkey, "We know we have to work much harder. The new Clinton administration needs careful watching."
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Title Annotation:includes related article on Catholic reaction to Pres Clinton's relaxation of U.S. abortion rules; Cardinal Roger Mahony
Author:Vidulich, Dorothy; Jones, Arthur
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Feb 5, 1993
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