Assembly of Bishops News
Monday, January 21, 2013
Forty years ago the Supreme Court of the United States
handed down a decision, known as Roe v. Wade, granting a “right” for women of
the United States to terminate the lives of their children in the womb. This
decision has resulted in some 54 million children’s lives ending almost before
The Holy Orthodox Christian Faith is unabashedly pro-life.
The Lord Jesus Christ was recognized and worshipped in His mother’s womb while
yet unborn by the Holy Forerunner who was also still in his mother’s womb (Luke
1:44); St. Basil the Great (4th Century), one of the universal teachers of the
faith, dared to call murderers those who terminate the life of the fetus. The
Church has consistently held that children developing in the womb should be
afforded every protection given to those outside the womb. There is no moral,
religious or scientific rationale which can justify making a distinction
between the humanity of the newly-conceived and that of the newly-born.
Abortion on demand not only ends the life of a child, but
also injures the mother of that child, often resulting in spiritual,
psychological and physical harm. Christians should bring the comfort of the
Gospel to women who have had abortions, that our loving God may heal them. The
Orthodox Church calls on her children, and indeed all of society, to provide
help to pregnant mothers who need assistance brining their children safely into
the world and providing these children loving homes.
On the occasion of this sorrowful anniversary, and as we
mourn the violence we all too often visit upon one another, as exemplified by
the recent mass killings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, we pray
for an end to the violence of abortion. Surely the many ways in which we as a
people diminish the reverence and respect for human life underlie much of this
violence. The disrespect for human life in the womb is no small part of this.
Let us offer to Almighty God our repentance for the evil of abortion on demand
and extend our hearts and hands to embrace life.
On the occasion of this 40th Anniversary of “Roe v. Wade,”
we republish the following “Agreed Statement” issued in 1974 by the
Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral Consultation in the United States (composed
of representatives from the former SCOBA and the US Conference of Catholic
Bishops) a statement as timely now as it was then:
An Agreed Statement on Respect for Life
We, the members of the Orthodox-Roman Catholic Bilateral
Consultation in the United States, after extensive discussions on the sanctity
of marriage, feel compelled to make a statement concerning the inviolability of
human life in all its forms.
We recognize that human life is a gift of God entrusted to
mankind and so feel the necessity of expressing our shared conviction about its
sacred character in concrete and active ways. It is true that the Christian
community's concern has recently seemed to be selective and disproportionate in
this regard, e.g., in the anti-abortion campaign. Too often human life has been
threatened or even destroyed, especially during times of war, internal strife,
and violence, with little or no protestation from the Christian leadership.
Unfortunately, the impression has frequently been given that churchmen are more
concerned with establishing the legitimacy of war or capital punishment than
with the preservation of human life. We know that this has been a scandal for
many, both believers and unbelievers.
We feel constrained at this point in history to affirm that
the "right to life" implies a right to a decent life and to full
human development, not merely to a marginal existence.
We affirm that the furthering of this goal for the unborn,
the mentally handicapped, the aging, and the underprivileged is our duty on a
global as well as a domestic scale.
We deplore in particular the U.S. Supreme Court's decision
failing to recognize the rights of the unborn--a decision which has led to
widespread indiscriminate early abortion.
We affirm our common Christian tradition with regard to the
right of the unborn to life.
We acknowledge our responsibility to mediate the love of
Christ, especially to the troubled expectant mother, and thus make possible the
transmission and nurturing of new life and its fully human development.
We urge our churches and all believers to take a concrete
stand on this matter at this time and to exemplify this evangelical imperative
in their personal lives and professional decisions.
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