Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller, pictured in this Register file photo, took aim at politicians and others who defend abortion and euthanasia at the annual Mass for Life at Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Archbishop slams modern-day ‘Herods’

By  Terry O’Neill, Canadian Catholic News
  • January 7, 2022

VANCOUVER -- Amid the bleakness of the culture of death that debases modern society, Catholics can find hope in the zealous and relentless commitment of pro-life advocates working “to foster in our country a culture of life,” said Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver.

“That is truly a blessing,” the archbishop said.

Miller’s celebration of Catholics’ pro-life work was a key part of a powerful homily delivered Dec. 28 during his annual Mass for Life, marking the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

But while congratulating those who are “promoting and encouraging the sacred dignity of human life,” Miller also had harsh words for defenders of abortion and euthanasia.

He drew a direct line between Herod’s slaughter of the innocents two millennia ago and present-day “governments, professions (and) the media” who support “crimes against life in Canada.”

“In Herod we see the darkness of a tyrant who wants to control life and death,” Miller said. “Insecure, pitiless and power-hungry, he reacts to the news that the wise men tricked him by ordering the massacre of all the children of Bethlehem under the age of two. In our fallen world, then and now, even the innocent can be ruthlessly eliminated in order to satisfy the will of the powerful.”

Yet, “even though there are bloody Herods in our own day,” he continued, “there are still joyful angel choirs who sing the majesty of our Saviour and of our God.”

This theme — of supporting the Christian commitment to life amidst a bleak anti-life landscape — was also advanced before the Mass when Michele Smillie of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s Office of Life, Marriage and Family addressed the Holy Rosary Cathedral congregation. Noting that the feasts of martyrs St. Stephen and St. John the Apostle were also being commemorated that week, Smillie said, “We are reminded that to be Christians and to defend life comes with a price.”

She said it is her hope that, “with prayers and public witness, we can change hearts and minds (to) ensure that every life is precious and meaningful, whether it is a crisis pregnancy at the beginning of life or a loneliness or fear at the end of life” that might lead to assisted suicide.

Miller said in his homily that such witness is at the core of the Christian faith, explaining, “To be Christian is to opt for life against the dominion of death.”

He quoted Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who said earlier this year, “the ancient Christian community’s radical unwillingness to tolerate assaults on life was a key factor in attracting people to the new movement. This is why, even today, the Church stands against any attempt to attack human life at any state of its development.”

Miller also noted that when Pope Francis was asked in September about “a woman’s right to choose” abortion, he declared, “Abortion is more than a problem, abortion is murder … whoever does an abortion, kills.”

During the same interview, Pope Francis stated that science clearly shows the embryo is fully human.

“And this human life must be respected,” Pope Francis said. “This principle is clear, and to those who cannot understand it I would ask two questions: Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Scientifically, it is a human life. Second question: Is it okay to hire a hitman to solve a problem?”

The “moral tragedy of abortion” is especially distressing when contemplated during Christmas, Miller said.

“Amidst the joy and the wonder of birth, we have to open our eyes and ears to what is going on around us, and to be attentive to the muted cries of the unborn,” the archbishop said.

“And this requires that we work to persuade others to face the truth, to face the truth about the social and, of course, the moral tragedy of abortion. The Christmas season is a time that challenges us to protect life.”

Included in this Catholic commitment to life is ministry to women who have had an abortion, Miller said. He quoted St. Pope John Paul II’s “Gospel of Life” encyclical, which addressed such women, stating, “The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost, and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.”

Monica Roddis, of St. James Parish in Abbotsford, B.C., was among scores of pro-life volunteers who attended the Mass. She said that she was especially pleased to hear Miller’s outreach to women suffering from a past abortion.

“Too often, pro-life people are accused of only caring about babies,” said Roddis, who, along with her husband, Malcolm, received the Medal Benemerenti in 2010 for their service to the family and pro-life cause.

“But these words from our Holy Father show that our movement of love has always cared for women also and that, in fact, we have always endeavoured to ‘love them both.’ ”

She also said she was heartened by Miller’s urging of Catholics to become true evangelizers of life.

“These words of his are what we must all listen to at this time in our country’s history,” Roddis said. “Take on the culture, be brave, make our voices heard.”

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