Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I went to college in 1968 with the idea of becoming a doctor, like my father. College campuses in the late ‘60’s and throughout the 70’s were places of turmoil. I didn’t practice my faith much in the first three years of college and I certainly never imagined that the Lord would one day make me a bishop.
I spent my first three years of college working as a hospital orderly and assisting in the emergency room, at a university student health center and in a hospital in California during summer break.
When I began the job, I hadn’t thought much about human suffering, or about human dignity.
But during my employment in hospitals, something changed. At that time, some states had approved abortion laws that I wasn’t even aware of. Because of those laws, when I was in college I witnessed the results of two abortions.
The first was in a surgical unit. I walked into an outer room and in the sink, unattended, was the body of small unborn child who had been aborted. I remember being stunned. I remember thinking that I had to baptize that child.
The second abortion was more shocking. A young woman came into the emergency room screaming. She explained that she had had an abortion already. When the doctor sent her home, he told her she would pass the remains naturally. She was bleeding as the doctor, her boyfriend, the nurse and I placed her on a table.
I held a basin as the doctor retrieved a tiny arm, a tiny leg and then the rest of the broken body of a tiny unborn child. I was shocked. I was saddened for the mother and child, for the doctor and the nurse. None of us would have participated in such a thing were it not an emergency. I witnessed a tiny human being destroyed by violence.
The memory haunts me. I will never forget that I stood witness to acts of unspeakable brutality. In the abortions I witnessed, powerful people made decisions that ended the lives of small, powerless, children. Through lies and manipulation, children were seen as objects. Women and families were convinced that ending a life would be painless, and forgettable. Experts made seemingly convincing arguments that the unborn were not people at all, that they could not feel pain, and were better off dead.
I witnessed the death of two small people who never had the chance to take a breath. I can never forget that. And I have never been the same. My faith was weak at the time. But I knew by reason, and by what I saw, that a human life was destroyed. My conscience awakened to the truth of the dignity of the human being from the moment of conception. I became pro-life and eventually returned to my faith.
I learned what human dignity was when I saw it callously disregarded. I know, without a doubt, that abortion is a violent act of murder and exploitation. And I know that our responsibility is to work and pray without ceasing for its end...
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to remind you of the power of prayer. Our prayer and sacrifice for an end to abortion, united with Christ on the cross, will transform hearts and renew minds. In prayer we entrust our nation to Jesus Christ. In doing so, we can be assured of his victory.
Today I ask you to join me in a new resolve to build a culture which sees with the eyes of God—which sees the dignity of the unborn, of women and men, of the poor, the elderly, the mentally ill and the disabled.
Our forefathers saw with the eyes of God when they recognized in the Declaration of Independence that “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to join me in building a culture of life which ends the brutal killing of the unborn—the smallest and least among us. There is no greater task we can undertake. I pray that the words of Scripture may burn within our hearts, “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila, STL
Archbishop of Denver
(Excerpt from here.)