HOUR OF PRAYER FOR LIFE CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 5 OCTOBER 2008 AT 12.15PM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Together with other Christian leaders, I warmly welcome you to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for this Hour of Prayer to God, the Author of all life, that we his creatures will respect the sacredness and unique value of each life from conception to natural death.
Our service is to acknowledge God as Author of life, to praise and thank him for his gifts and to beg him fervently that we creatures will enact laws which are based on truth and are one with the Creator’s plan.
Our Readings will speak of the loving personal care of God, his guidance from the womb of our Mother, the plan of God in Jesus Christ that redeemed us and the challenge given to us to follow the spirit of truth. We pray especially for the members of Victorian Parliament as they confront proposed legislation imperilling life, endangering freedom of conscience and rejecting the dignity of each human life.
United with each other, let us stand as we praise God, the Author of all goodness, in the famous prayer of Saint Francis, All Creatures of our God and King.
“Man fully alive is the glory of God.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Gospel we have just read speaks of the unity we have in the Holy Spirit, the accompanying grace of God and the mutual love of Jesus and the Father, which should accompany each of our actions.
Writing in the second century, Saint Irenaeus, the Bishop of Lyons, said:
“The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason God who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life and the actualisation of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness. People will therefore see God if they are to live. To the vision of God they will become immortal and attain to God himself.”
We are here as brothers and sisters because we value the great gift of life. Through prayer, witness and service we seek to go forth from this celebration of life, to testify to the unique value of each human without distinction from conception to natural death. We serve our community by offering witness to the truth of life and undertake a commitment to serve those whose lives are endangered or weakened.
A particular challenge to that compassionate vision is legislation to be introduced into the Legislative Council on Tuesday. Contrary to respect for life at all stages, it allows an abortion up to twenty-four weeks gestation performed by any doctor. A pharmacist or nurse is permitted without the involvement of a doctor to administer an abortifacient drug to a female up to twenty-four weeks.
More than this it permits abortions from twenty-four weeks up to childbirth for a female if two doctors reasonably believe the abortion is appropriate having regard to the woman’s relevant medical and current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances. It repeals the offence of child destruction and compels a pharmacist or nurse employed or engaged in public or private hospital or day procedure centre if directed in writing by a doctor to administer or supply an abortifacient drug to a female who is more than twenty-four weeks pregnant. In addition to this, it imposes a legal obligation on doctors, nurses, pharmacists and psychologists, who have a conscientious objection