#YesOn115: Voting as a Catholic Means Voting for a ‘Culture of Life’

Brittany Vessely

November 3 is drawing near for arguably one of the most vitriolic presidential races in the United States’ history, but the presidency is not the only ballot measure of utmost concern for Coloradans. This year, the people of Colorado have the opportunity to ban late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ fetal gestation, promoting the value of life for our culture and affirming the countless preborn children whose lives came to a brutal end before their first breath.

As Catholics and as Coloradans, we must vote YES for Ballot Proposition 115, banning late-term abortion after 22-weeks’ gestation. And we must encourage our family, friends, and neighbors to do the same. This is literally an issue of life or death.

Colorado is one of seven states with no legal restrictions on the gestational age of a child for an abortion, allowing preborn children to be killed at any moment until birth. According to the Guttmacher Institute, most states have imposed restrictions on abortion at 20-weeks of gestation or at viability of life outside the womb, which is generally regarded as 22- to 24-weeks’ gestation.1  A May 2020 Gallup poll shows that 70 percent of Americans believe there should be some restrictions on abortions. Despite this public support, the Colorado Department of Public Health reports that approximately 300 babies are aborted per year after 21-weeks’ gestation in the Centennial State. Colorado is far behind the rest of the country in protecting lives of preborn children.

In June, the Colorado bishops released a letter imploring Coloradans to support the Proposition 115 Late Term Abortion Ban. They wrote,

“Ending the legal protection for abortion is the most important political objective of Colorado Catholics because these children are deprived of their right to live. While the late-term abortion ban will not ban abortion entirely, it does protect children who are older than 22 weeks’ gestation. This is a positive change from the status quo and promotes a ‘culture of life’ that values preborn children. It is a step in the right direction.”

The Catholic Church teaches, and human reason based on the findings of science affirms, life begins at conception. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago, 96 percent of biological scientists attest to life beginning at the fertilization of an embryo.2 By 20-weeks’ gestation, a human fetus demonstrates all the fundamental characteristics of more developed humans, including the ability to perceive pain and perform sophisticated behaviors. This makes second trimester dilation and evacuation “D & E” abortions, which dismember babies and crush their skulls while they are still alive, even more horrific. Many abortion clinics, such as Planned Parenthood, have even profited off selling the organs of these late-term aborted babies.3

Furthermore, medical advancements have increased infant-survival rates outside of the womb at 22-weeks’ gestation. A recent study by the University of Iowa shows that 64 percent of babies born at 22 weeks and 82 percent of babies born at 23 weeks survived with hospital resuscitation.4 A majority of premature babies born between 22 weeks and 25 weeks are able to be treated by specialized healthcare professionals and live happy, healthy lives. With each week in utero after the 22-week mark, the survival rate outside of the womb increases. 

Opponents of Proposition 115, including Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion lobbyists, argue that the restriction on abortion limits accessibility for women, especially in cases of rape and incest or unviable pregnancies. But abortion for women who have been sexually assaulted would only add trauma to trauma and create yet another innocent victim by killing the preborn child. In these cases, rapists should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law and society should support both the woman and her infant child. Groups like Catholic Charities’ Marisol Health are licensed medical centers, fully equipped to help women with their reproductive health in any circumstance, even the most difficult pregnancies.

It is the duty and obligation of faithful Catholics to take part in shaping the moral character of our community, our state and our country. At the heart of the Church’s moral and social teachings are the truths of human dignity and sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. Because we are people of both faith and reason, it is necessary for Catholics to advocate for these truths in the public square. One important way to do this is through our civic responsibility to participate in the political process by voting, both for Proposition 115 and for elected officials who value life. It is imperative, in this election more than ever, that Catholics hold lawmakers accountable – particularly those who profess to be Catholic but reject Catholic social teaching.

Our involvement in public life, especially in a time of so much civic unrest and a need to address wrongs of the past and present, including abortion, will ultimately help shape the moral character of our society for the future and our posterity – especially for the children whose lives will be saved by your vote for Proposition 115.

Remember to Vote YES on Ballot Proposition 115 this election, and vote for candidates who value a “culture of life.” The lives of Colorado children depend on you!

Visit Online

For more information on Prop. 115 and other election resources, visit cocatholicconference.org

COMING UP: Five tips for reading the Word of God

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Sunday, Jan. 24 marks “The Sunday of the Word of God,” instituted by Pope Francis last year and to be held every year on the third Sunday of Ordinary Time. This may strike us as odd, as we might think to ourselves, “but isn’t the Bible read at every Sunday Mass?” Certainly so. Not only that, but every daily celebration of the Mass proclaims the Word of God.

What’s different about “The Sunday of the Word of God,” however, is that it’s not just about hearing the Bible read on Sundays. As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith notes, it “reminds us, pastors and faithful alike, of the importance and value of Sacred Scripture for the Christian life, as well as the relationship between the word of God and the liturgy: ‘As Christians, we are one people, making our pilgrim way through history, sustained by the Lord, present in our midst, who speaks to us and nourishes us. A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak his word and to break bread in the community of believers. For this reason, we need to develop a closer relationship with Sacred Scripture; otherwise, our hearts will remain cold and our eyes shut, inflicted as we are by so many forms of blindness.’” This gives us a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect on the Sacred Scriptures. 

There are two means by which God Divinely reveals truths to us: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. As such, the Bible is not merely a human document, nor simply a collection of amazing stories that call us to do heroic things, or a collection of wise sayings. Rather, the Scriptures are “inspired.” St. Paul has a beautiful teaching about this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice, That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work.” By “inspired” we mean that God is the principle author of the Bible.

Certainly there were different men who physically wrote the words on the papyrus. Yet these men were influenced by the grace of inspiration to write, not just their own words, but God’s. And so the Scriptures are a mysterious congruence of Divine and human authorship – the human writers capably made full use of language, literary forms, creativity, and writing style to communicate their message, yet they did so under the grace of Divine inspiration. This means that while they wrote in such a way that they had full freedom to write as they wanted, what they wrote was also, “to a tee,” exactly as God wanted written. God is the principle author of the Bible, the human author its secondary writer. Such inspiration is how, despite the various human authors, events, and historical and cultural contexts behind the 73 Biblical texts, we’re still left with only one story since they all have the same one primary author. 

Given that the Bible is the written word of God, I’d like to offer a few “tips” for reading the Bible, since it certainly cannot be read like any other text. 

1. Pray! We must pray before opening the Scriptures for enlightenment from God. We must pray after reading in thanksgiving to God. And we must pray throughout reading in order to encounter God in Scripture and apply it to our life. Of course, the tried and trusted practice of praying the Scriptures is Lectio DivinaThe Ladder of Monks by Guigo II is the ancient resource for Lectio Divina, while a helpful book to get you started is Dr. Tim Gray’s Praying Scripture for a Change: An Introduction to Lectio Divina

2. Remember that you are in no rush. The important point is encountering Christ in the Scriptures, not racing through them. Speed reading isn’t reading, after all, much less when applied to the Word of God. It’s not about getting through the Bible, but encountering Christ therein. That may be a few chapters at a time or may actually be only one verse that you pray with. Whatever the case, slow and steady wins the race, as Aesop reminds us. 

3. We have to read the Scriptures regularly, daily if possible. We read in Psalm 1, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Meditating day and night. A good way to start would be to read one Psalm a night as a part of your nightly prayer. Ever better would be praying that one Psalm with your spouse, if married. 

4. Do not worry about starting on page one and reading from cover to cover. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the text. We all know about Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Moses and the Plagues. But how many understand animal sacrifices in the Book of Leviticus or its purity laws? It’s very easy, starting from page one and flipping straight through, to lose sight of the story of salvation history. Start from page one if you’d like, but don’t feel like you can’t start with whatever book (especially the Gospels) that you find yourself drawn to. 

5. Come take classes with the Denver Catholic Biblical School! In chapter eight of the Book of Acts, we read of an Ethiopian Eunuch reading from the Prophet Isaiah. When the Deacon Philip asks him if he understands what he’s reading, the Eunuch responds, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” This is what we at the Biblical School are here for – to guide you in your encounter with Christ in the Sacred Scriptures. We’re in the middle of our Scripture classes already for this year, but we always start new classes in the fall every September. And in the meantime, we have plenty of things still coming for this year – a class on Catholic Social Teaching that begins on Jan. 27 a lecture series for Lent that starts on March 1, a conference on the Sacred Heart being offered on May 15 and Aug. 28, and a six-week class on St. Joseph in the summer starting in July. We have something for everybody – just reach out to us!