My Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. We journey now through Holy Week as we have accepted our Lenten invitation for prayer, reflection and grace-filled action. I pray that you have taken this time to reconcile and deepen your relationship with God and with your brothers and sisters. Our Holy Father reminds us in his Lenten reflection, “When we live as children of God, redeemed and led by the Holy Spirit and capable of acknowledging and obeying God’s law, beginning with the law written on our hearts, we participate in the transformation and redemption of our world…Yet in this world, the harmony generated by redemption is constantly threatened by the negative power of sin and death” (Pope Francis, 2019).
These are troubled times in our world, our country, our communities and our families. Mass shootings, bigotry as it is manifested in religious, ethnic, or racial intolerance; scandals and corruption in the Church and in society, domestic and other forms of abuse, as well as, violence against all forms of human life, especially the unborn, are consequences of “the power of sin and death.” The recent tragic trend in state governments proposing or legalizing radical abortion laws, particularly late-term, and children born alive and left to die, under the guise of ‘healthcare’ shocks the collective conscience and genuinely redefines what it means to be human. There is no place in public policy for this level of disrespect for human life.
As we move, in great anticipation, toward Easter, let us use this time of preparation and renewal to pray for a deepening respect for life in our families and for all our brothers and sisters who have not recognized the dignity of life. May we reflect on our responsibility to respect and protect all human life, from the human embryo, the born and unborn, the sick and dying. May our action mobilize ourselves and others through respectful dialogue and advocacy to challenge unjust laws and policy. May we be an example of Christ to each other.
In Florida, we do this very effectively during Catholic Days at the Capitol (which recently occurred March 26-27) whereby the bishops of the Province of Florida join other Catholics during the Florida legislative session. Advocacy is critical to creating just relationships, holding law makers accountable for legislation that undermines the common good and does not protect the weakest and voiceless members of the human family. Fundamentally, we need a moral “revelation” to replace a culture of violence with a renewed ethic of justice, responsibility and community.
While these times may seem increasingly dark and without promise, let me leave you with the words of St. Oscar Romero, whose feast day we celebrated March 24. “Let us not be disheartened, even when the horizon of history grows dim and closes in, as though human realities deemed impossible the accomplishment of God’s plans. God makes use of human errors, even of human sins, so as to make rise over the darkness that Isaiah spoke of …The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. They walk in the lands of shadows, but a light has shone forth.” (Is 9:1)
May we pray for a well-trained tongue that we might inspire the weary to follow God’s Word and bring forth His goodness. As we journey to the Cross, may we accept His offering of life that we may rouse others to live through, with and in him.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop John Noonan