Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

‘We Too Are Engaged In A Struggle For Justice And For The Life Of The Innocent’

Published January 27, 2005

The following is the text of remarks made by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta on Jan. 21, 2005 at the state Capitol.

My Dear Friends,

I am honored to stand before you this afternoon for the first time, not just as the leader of North Georgia’s four hundred thousand Catholics, but proudly as a fellow citizen of Georgia, a friend to all men and women of good will, and a collaborator with all those who advocate for justice and peace in our time. I am especially aware that I stand here in the heart of a city, and on the very ground where many persons suffered frequent indignities in the cause of freedom—so that all Americans might enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness preciously enshrined in our Constitution.

I am also profoundly aware that I am in the city where life for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. began, where his mortal remains now rest, and where he waged a great and noble struggle for justice. The significance of our cause fits the nobility of this place perfectly. We too are engaged in a struggle for justice and for the life of the innocent. In the same way that the work for which Dr. King gave his every effort was not always seen as popular, as fundamental or even important to this nation, or little more than the concern of a small but vocal group of activists.

Those same expressions have often been attributed to our work and efforts that seek to protect the life of the unborn. Public opinion, many suggest, is against our efforts in much the same way as public opinion was often highly critical of the work of Civil Rights. But our challenge is not simply to counter dubious or hostile public opinion but essentially to restore the conscience of a nation that has been numbed by the misinformation that suggests that we can ignore the dignity of a life that has begun within the womb but is not recognized as worthy of our respect, protection, or concern.

There are so many analogous comparisons that ought to be and must be made between the struggle for Civil Rights and the right to life of the unborn that it seems that we are engaged in a struggle that has already been waged but not adequately acknowledged nor applied widely enough. The righteousness of this struggle is validated in the sacred texts of Jews, Christians, and Moslems, although it is not exclusively a religious opinion since people with little or no religious faith have joined us in seeking to respect and protect the life of the unborn.

We have been engaged in this struggle for 32 years. We are willing to continue our efforts for as long as it takes to secure the safety of all the unborn. We do not condone or support violence as a means to achieve our end. In fact, those who advocate or who enact violence as a strategy have already violated the very principles that they suggest that they seek to uphold. We shall not go away. We shall only grow stronger and more determined to make certain that some day a human life within the womb will not be considered a choice to be made, but a child to be loved.

God and Creator of all life, listen to the prayer of Your
People. Help us to secure for all those You deign to
give Life a secure future. Bless our country with a
Renewal of Reverence for all life. Strengthen
Our resolve to work with Men and Women of
Good Will to bring an end to all abortion and
A return to the principles of Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness for all people –
Those who have been born
And those waiting to be born. Amen.