Message from Bishop Christopher J. Coyne to the Catholic Community of the Diocese of Burlington
Today, Friday June 24th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This image of Christ recalls the love and mercy that flowed from the pierced heart of Jesus as he hung on the Cross and the love and mercy that continues to flow from the heart of the Church. Out of love for each of us, God through His only begotten Son and through the power of the Holy Spirit, continues to nourish the gift of life in creation and in the life of each person created in His image and likeness, whether in the womb or in hospice care. We are a people of life and a people formed in God’s love. The image of the Sacred Heart compels us to be bearers and sharers of the love that flows from Jesus Christ.
I believe it is helpful for us as Catholics to ponder the mystery of Christ’s love in light of today’s ruling of the US Supreme Court which overturns Roe vs. Wade and to use that image as a means of forming our response amongst ourselves and in the greater community. While we can rightly applaud the decision of the Court, we must also be vigilant to avoid any language that will further inflame the present public response. I am reminded of the words of the Prayer of St. Francis:
Make me a channel of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love …
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is despair in life let me bring hope
Where there is darkness only light …
Here in Vermont, today’s ruling has no effect on the present legal right to abortion. Our state already has the most liberal of laws allowing for abortion on demand right up to the moment of birth. Additionally, there is a strong effort to amend the State Constitution this November under Article 22, enshrining these laws within the State Constitution. I will soon be issuing two pastoral letters, one to address the serious issues raised by the effort to amend the State Constitution, the other as to how we as Catholics need to continue to promote a culture of life in which we seek to protect all human life from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death, and, in particular, to provide pregnant women and families with the support they need to always choose life.
In the meantime, my prayer today is that each of us will continue to abide in the river of love that flows from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, reveling in the gift of life that has formed us in the image of God and recreated us in the waters of baptism.
May the channel of love that flows from Jesus Christ help us to be channels of His peace.