The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. is a treasure to Catholics. The place of prayer and worship dedicated to honoring the Blessed Mother, however, was used this week as a projection screen for those opposed to Church teaching but call themselves Catholic.
While Catholics gathered for the National Prayer Vigil for Life, held annually during the March for Life, at the basilica, another group was planning a defamatory act toward the basilica and the pro-life movement. Catholics for Choice, an organization that stands opposed to Church teaching of the sanctity of life in the womb and the need to protect unborn life, turned the outside of the basilica into their own movie projection screen. While Catholics inside were praying for an end to abortion and offering the Eucharist for the protection of life, Catholics for Choice plastered the outside of the basilica in multiple locations with a sign reading “Pro-choice Catholics, you are not alone.” Before the night was even over, they were on social media boasting about their actions. What kind of Catholic boasts on social media about desecrating and defaming a basilica that honors the Blessed Mother?
The message was spread across the front of the basilica and was done by a small group of Catholics who support abortion. But, they were not satisfied with just the sign that Pro-Choice Catholics were not alone. They continued to defame and desecrate the sacred basilica by projecting another message up and down the bell tower which read “1 in 4 abortion patients is Catholic.” They alternated their messages and defamation with other statements such as “Stop stigmatizing, Start listening.”
Although the group claims by getting proper permits by the city and following all local laws that they did it in a respectful manner, some Catholic leaders are speaking out condemning the actions and would likely argue it was anything but respectful.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory issued a statement regarding the events, stating those responsible were not true Catholics:
“The true voice of the Church was only to be found within The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last evening. There, people prayed and offered the Eucharist asking God to restore a true reverence for all human life. Those whose antics projected words on the outside of the church building demonstrated by those pranks that they really are external to the Church and they did so at night – John 13:30”.
The statement from Cardinal Gregory references the scripture where Judas betrays Jesus.
“So he (Judas Iscariot) took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.” (John 13:30)
The actions of those claiming to be part of the Church yet conducting attacks of this nature are certainly a modern day Judas within the Church.
San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone did not hold back when he retweeted a photo of the desecration posted by one of the protesters. He stated, “the attempted desecration is enormous. Diabolical. Mother Mary, pray for them, now and at the hour of death. Amen.”
I would have to disagree a small bit with the archbishop in that it is still desecration, not attempted desecration, when they use the basilica for our Holy Mother to spread an anti-Catholic message. Bishop J. Strickland of Tyler, Texas joined in condemning the actions by retweeting it and stating:
“If this is real it is an atrocity. Support of murder projected on the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception??? I pray that it is a fake photo photoshopped for evil purposes. If it is real it is horrible & even faking it is evil.”
Sadly, it certainly is true and is not a fake. Bishop Strickland is correct in calling it evil.
Ashley Wilson, one of the protesters who proudly promoted her involvement in the actions, tweeted “Before the night gets too far away from me, let me say a bit about why Cathlic4Choice did what we did tonight. I know that my faith teaches Catholics to honor personal conscience. And yet, the Catholic hierarchy seeks to polarize pro-choice Catholics and villainize people who make the moral choice to have abortions. I am tired of feeling shame and stigma for being a pro-choice Catholic. And I’m not here for people to judge my own personal relationship with God.”
Wilson, as you can imagine, received a lot of backlash and calls for her to repent. Joining the voices asking for her repentance was Fr. Mike Palmer, CSC, Holy Cross priest and Army Chaplain at Fort Benning, Georgia. He wrote on her tweet:
“My sister, I am begging you to listen to the people here and go to Confession to receive God’s forgiveness. You are – and I mean this with all my heart – quite literally putting your immortal soul in grave danger by disobeying Christ and attempting to lead His people astray”
The problem that Wilson, and many others claiming to be Catholic yet advocating for the murder of innocent babies, apparently does not understand is that the Catholic Church has opposed abortion and affirmed the right to life of every unborn child from the 1st century. The dignity and sanctity of unborn life is not a new issue.
“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.” (CCC 2258)
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life. Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (CCC 2270-2271)
The Church teaching is backed up by Scripture. The Word of God affirms the value and dignity of life from the moment of conception and therefore, is unchangeable, regardless of how someone feels. To be Catholic is to be pro-life. To be Catholic is to be pro-truth. Truth does not change just because you do not like it or because your feelings are hurt that you cannot commit a grave sin and pretend that it is acceptable to God.
In this moral relativistic society, abortion is touted as acceptable if you feel like it’s the right choice for you. It is never acceptable by God, no matter how much you pretend or lie to yourself. Desecrating basilicas that honor our Blessed Mother is never acceptable either and I pray God has mercy on your souls and you repent before its too late. With all my heart, I am begging those responsible to go to Confession and repent of their actions.