Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, installed Jan. 13 as as head of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind., delivered a speech Feb. 8 at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business on the occasion of a week-long discussion of the "ethics and economy of abortion."
Bishop Rhoades, 52, who describes himself as a "John Paul II priest," quoted heavily from the late pontiff in his 2,700-word talk. In fact, about a third of his speech was direct quotes from Pope John Paul's encyclicals and other writings.
His speech centered on the fact that protection of the dignity of human life was written on the human heart, in natural law, as envisioned even by the founding fathers of the United States of America.
We might ask: How is it that we in our great nation, the most famous example in the world of the democratic ideal, came to the point of authorizing, legalizing abortion and are moving in the direction of authorizing euthanasia? How has this happened? By fiat of the Supreme Court? But what about laws enacted by legislatures supporting abortion and euthanasia? What about the pro-choice opinions of many voters who support abortion or euthanasia, at least in certain circumstances? I believe that Roe v. Wade has in some respects erroneously led many people to accept that if something is declared legal, it is therefore right. Laws and Supreme Court decisions have a moral influence in forming people’s opinions. That is why the educational efforts of the Church and of Catholic universities like Notre Dame are so essential and important.Bishop Rhoades said the abortion issue was tied to the problem of "ethical relativism and a distorted notion of freedom in our society and culture." And he noted that the consequence of the abuse of human freedom in "choosing" abortion resulted in the "slavery of sin."
“Pro-choice” advocates not only deny the fundamental moral truth about the inviolability of the life of every human person (ethical relativism), they also distort the truth about human freedom. The choice to kill an unborn baby is an abuse of freedom and brings harm, not only to the innocent child whose life is taken, but also to all who participate or cooperate in the evil act. So many women who have had abortions have suffered as a result, many having been deceived into thinking that the choice to abort was an exercise of their rightful freedom, to later discover that they were anything but free after the destruction of their unborn child. The Church’s ministry to women who have had abortions is vitally important so that the wound left in their hearts is healed and true freedom restored through repentance and God’s merciful love.Bishop Rhoades has visited Notre Dame several times since his installation. The university gave him a crosier bearing his coat of arms and an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom he has a special devotion. The crosier has become the one he regularly uses.