Archbishop Naumann: COVID response showed we still treasure the lives of the vulnerable

January 23, 2020: Archbishop Naumann gives the homily during the 2020 Mass for Life Credit: Peter Zelasko/CNA

Washington D.C., Jan 29, 2021 / 08:39 am (CNA).- Protecting vulnerable persons was a “bright spot” in the country’s COVID-19 pandemic response, the U.S. bishops’ pro-life chair said on the eve of the March for Life.

“Perhaps, the greatest bright spot in our nation’s response to COVID-19 was the extraordinary measures that we have taken to protect the most vulnerable, those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City stated in his homily at the Vigil Mass for the March for Life on Thursday evening.

“In a culture where euthanasia and assisted suicide have gained traction,” he added, “it has been heartening that our COVID protocols are not based on a biased Quality of Life ethic”–restricting care for the elderly and disabled based on an assumption about their “quality of life.”

Archbishop Naumann is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB) pro-life committee. He celebrated the March for Life Vigil Mass on Jan. 28 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

While the National Prayer Vigil for Life is normally attended by thousands on the eve of the annual March for Life, the 2021 Mass was closed to the general public due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The March for Life is an annual pro-life demonstration around the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Normally attended by tens of thousands of pro-life advocates, the 48th annual March for Life is closed to the public and will be live-streamed on Friday as pro-life leaders walk through the streets of Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, Archbishop Naumann emphasized that the COVID precautions taken by society “have communicated to our elderly that their lives are important and treasured.”

Naumann also exhorted pro-lifers not to be discouraged after President Joe Biden, in his second week in office, allowed for U.S. funding of international pro-abortion groups. On Jan. 22, Biden—a Catholic—also pledged to codify Roe v. Wade on the 48th anniversary of the Roe decision.

“We must not yield to discouragement, much less despair. We must also not indulge in anger or attacking those who disagree with us,” Archbishop Naumann said.

“Our weapons to defeat the culture of death are not bricks, guns or, Molotov cocktails, but prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” he said, asking Catholics to “pray and fast” for President Biden to have a change of heart on his support for legal abortion.

“We must pray and fast that the President will cease attempting to confuse people about Catholic teaching by trampling on the sanctity of human life while presenting himself as a devout Catholic,” Naumann said.

At the end of his homily, the archbishop explained the Church’s teaching on reception of Holy Communion is not meant to be “inhospitable” or “exclusive.” When a Communion recipient replies “Amen,” he said, it “is an affirmation that we believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.”

“We do not want non-Catholic Christians to profess something that they do not believe,” Naumann said of non-Catholics being instructed not to receive Communion.

“Similarly, integrity requires a Catholic not receive the Eucharist while acting in a manner incoherent with fundamental Catholic teaching,” he said.

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