Archbishop Richard Smith, assisted by Ukrainian Bishop David Motiuk and Fr. Paul Kavanagh at the annual Mass for Life May 17.
EDMONTON – A conscience that's active, alert and is properly formed will never justify the killing of an innocent life, said Archbishop Richard Smith.
In a homily at the May 17 Mass for Life at St. Joseph's Basilica, Smith urged those present to pray for the sanctity of human life in all stages and in all circumstances.
As president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he spoke on the conference's recent pastoral letter on freedom of conscience and religion.
The letter says believers must be allowed a role in formulating public policy and in contributing to society as a way of living their faith.
It also says when religious freedom is threatened, all other rights are weakened and society suffers.
Such conscience rights apply to Canada's law that has allowed for three million pre-born children to be legally killed in Canada since 1969, he said.
The Gospel for May 17 described Jesus telling his apostles that he would soon leave them, and that they would lament his absence. Jesus did not deny the grief, but he wanted the apostles to look beyond the grief to the joy that would soon come.
This same grief still applies today, but in a different way, Smith said.
"We grieve not because the Lord is absent but because much of society has chosen to eclipse from its consciousness the truth about God and the demands of God's love."
Like the apostles grieving Jesus' death, modern-day Christians grieve the marginalization and killing of the unborn.
We grieve the needs of women who need our support during pregnancy but get none. We mourn the needs of families who are under pressures from drugs, infidelity, pornography, and other strains, he said.
Jesus likened the difficult transition from grief to joy with the process of giving birth. A woman, when she gives birth, feels pain. But when she delivers her child, she does not remember the anguish; she experiences joy for the new life she has brought into the world.