Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on Saturday. Shannon Stapleton / AP
Stating that the Church is called to “proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life” at St. Patrick’s Cathedral today Pope Benedict paid tribute to two great Pro-life leaders, Cardinal Cooke and Cardinal O’Connor.
“The Church, as “a people made one by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Spirit” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4), is called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life. Here in this cathedral, our thoughts turn naturally to the heroic witness to the Gospel of life borne by the late Cardinals Cooke and O’Connor. The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must be the heart of the new evangelization. For true life – our salvation – can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love which are God’s gracious gift.”
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York
Saturday, 19 April 2008
We would like to document some of the pro-life efforts of these two great men who were early and courageous defenders of the unborn.
Terence Cardinal Cooke
In a May 22, 1972 article in Time magazine, entitled, The Abortion Issue, Cardinal Cooke’s early efforts to repeal the abortion law in New York are detailed. Issuing his own letter in New York against abortion from all of the pulpits in 1972, he supported New York citizens who were fighting this law. He also published a pro-life letter that President Nixon sent to him. The letter, endorsing the repeal (pro-life) movement and calling it a “noble endeavor,” was released by the Cardinal’s office-with tacit, if not explicit, White House approval. In 1972, Terence Cardinal Cooke was one of the first to describe abortion as “slaughter of the innocent unborn”.
Cardinal Cooke’s final letter read on October 8 and 9th, 1983, the weekend after his death was a letter on the sanctity of the gift of life.
And as many of you know, his successor, Cardinal O’Connor took up the pro-life cause and became another hero for the pro-life movement.
John Cardinal O’Connor
EWTN has a wonderful tribute to Cardinal O’Connor on his death which details many of his wonderful efforts on behalf of the unborn.
1. He was committed to the right to life and showed his concern by wearing on the lapel of his black clerical suit a tiny red rose with its stem spelling out “l–i–f–e“.
2. He participated at the annual Right to Life March held in Washington, DC.
3. He formed a religious community, the Sisters of Life who are dedicated to protecting the sacredness of all human life beginning with the infant in the womb to those vulnerable to the threat of euthanasia.
4. In addition, he repeated an offer many times to any woman in need: “go to him for help rather than abort her child”. The Archdiocese of New York and Catholic charities responded by providing hundreds of women with medical assistance, housing, adoption and legal services, as well as, the Cardinal himself counseling women in difficult situations.
These are the two men whom Pope Benedict held up as authentic pro-life heroes when he called on the Church to “proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life”.
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