By Fr. Kevin Magner

This Friday, January 22, is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States in 1973. Since then, the degradation of American society has continued in a downward spiral. We are now living in a time in which rudeness is regularly practiced. We have lost any semblance of civil discourse. People no longer discuss or debate. They yell at each other and try to shout down their opponent. The Trump-Biden presidential debate this past year was a classic example of this kind of behavior. We have become a godless society. We no longer respect or acknowledge God and we no longer respect each other.

Last year at this time I wrote a parish bulletin article in which I quoted Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review. She suggested that legalized abortion has created a “national misery” in our culture that has seriously impacted how we behave. I think she is absolutely correct. One of the worst effects of Roe v. Wade, besides the obvious killing of innocents, is the way it has seriously warped our collective mindset. When we begin to accept inhumanity at its most basic level, that is, the right to life itself, then we begin the gradual disintegration of everything else that we consider to be decent and humane. This is what Pope John Paul II very fittingly referred to as the culture of death.

One of the most horrific sins of humanity is the ability and willingness to accept certain human lives as being disposable. This has always been seen throughout the history of mankind. Slavery, wars, human trafficking, and abortion are all examples of this willingness to believe that some people are not really people and, therefore, are expendable.

This mentality has brought about the “cancel culture”, a term that refers to the public shaming and ostracism of public figures that say or believe something that other individuals believe to be objectionable. This is usually done via social media by calling for the general public to “cancel” an individual or company so that their career or business is ruined. It is just another way of deciding that this individual does not “count” as a person and does not deserve a place in society.

If we are going to continue as a functional society then we must embrace the idea that we are obligated to show respect for every person’s life. Respecting human life is not only about allowing a person to have life, but the recognition that there is an inherent goodness and dignity in every human life. We must bring back to the collective cultural consciousness the belief that there is dignity and goodness in each and every person. As Catholics we believe this because we know that we are each created in the image and likeness of God. We must continue to pray and speak out about respecting human life in order to bring about this change from a culture of death to a culture of life.