The juxtaposition of the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and the March for Life has prompted Bishop John G. McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire to reflect upon American society. While President-elect Obama’s status as the first African-American elected president marks victorious progress to overcome racism, he said it also marks the further political defeat of the pro-life movement.
"The impending change is momentous," Bishop McCormack wrote in a message released Wednesday on the Diocese of New Hampshire’s web site. "President-elect Obama’s election reflects the encouraging fact that racism is diminishing in our country."
He wrote that the incoming administration was elected by voters who desired that the federal government be more responsive to working and middle class people. The change of administration also creates the expectation that there will be an end to the war in Iraq.
"Whether we voted for President-elect Obama or not, he is to be the President of the United States, a president for all of us," Bishop McCormack continued.
In light of the economic crisis and the expansion of global terrorism, the bishop added, President-elect Obama and his administration "deserve our prayers and respect." He cited St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy in which the Apostle asked for prayers "for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity."
"Given the fact that there remain pockets of racial hatred in our country and deep divisions around important issues, Saint Paul’s words apply to us as well," Bishop McCormack wrote.
The bishop said he and a priest friend had noted the irony of the Presidential Inauguration’s "practically simultaneous occurrence" with the March for Life.
"The irony lies in the recognition that as the struggle to overcome racism moves forward toward victory, another struggle for the right to one’s life faces the threat of further political defeat. In light of this, people of every race, faith, and age will gather in prayer as well as in protest to lift up a cry for the right to life for all human life," Bishop McCormack remarked.
"As the inauguration symbolizes another step away from the reprehensible concept that one person can own another as a slave, we witness the tragedy and grave injustice that abortion implies that the child in the womb is the personal property of another human being. With such a mindset, a person can choose to extinguish this life for about any reason."
"Removing protection for the innocent is not progress," he continued. "Racism and abortion are grave moral evils. As progress is made on one front, we cannot stand idly by while protections for the unborn slip away."
He called upon Catholics and all people of goodwill to "remain steadfast" in their opposition to abortion and their commitment to building respect for life. He also lamented the lack of political leaders who speak out against abortion.
"Change is wonderfully manifest in Barack Obama as the first African-American president in our country," Bishop McCormack’s message closed. "May change now come to our nation’s attitude toward human life so we all will increase the respect for all human life, from conception to natural death."