Pope Francis embraces a young woman during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 9, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People have a right to life, not to death, which must be welcomed but never provoked, Pope Francis said.

“The right to care and treatment for all must always be prioritized, so that the weakest, especially the elderly and the sick, are never discarded,” he said Feb. 9 during his weekly general audience.

The pope also criticized a problem he said is real for older people “in a certain social class” of not being given all of the medicine or care they need since they lack the money.

“This is inhumane. This is not helping them, this is pushing them more quickly toward death,” he said. They must be cared for and not marginalized.

The pope’s remarks were part of his series of audience talks about St. Joseph and his role as the patron saint of a “happy” death, a term used to describe a last stage of life that is peaceful and full of faith and hope.

Pope Francis praised a recent comment by retired Pope Benedict XVI, who, at nearly 95 years of age, recognizes his own presence before “the dark door of death.”

It is “good advice” for everyone, Pope Francis said, because today’s “so-called ‘feel-good’ culture tries to remove the reality of death.” People seek to ignore “our finite existence, deluding ourselves into believing we can remove the power of death and dispel fear.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the reality of death back into focus, he added, and so many people “have lost loved ones without being able to be near them, and this has made death even harder to accept and process.”

The Christian faith is not about removing the fear of death; “rather, it helps us to face it” with trust in Christ’s promises, he said. Christians know for certain, he said, that Christ is risen and “awaits us behind that dark door of death.”

“We cannot avoid death, and precisely for this reason, after having done everything that is humanly possible to cure the sick, it is immoral to engage in futile treatment,” the pope said, referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the legitimacy of refusing “overzealous” treatment not to cause death but to accept it (paragraph 2278).

When it comes to the experience of death itself, of pain or of suffering, he said, “we must be grateful for all the help that medicine endeavors to give, so that through so-called ‘palliative care,’ every person who is preparing to live the last stage of their life can do so in the most human way possible.”

However, the pope warned against confusing such care with unacceptable interventions that lead to killing people. “We must accompany people toward death, but not provoke death or facilitate assisted suicide.”

This ethical principle, he said, applies to everyone, “not just Christians or believers.”

At the end of his main audience talk, the pope reminded people of the church’s celebration of the World Day of the Sick Feb. 11. He asked that all people experiencing illness be guaranteed health care and spiritual accompaniment.

He urged people to pray for those who are ill, their families, health care and pastoral workers, and everyone who helps care for their needs.

Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati, left, and Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles are seen in this composite photo. (CNS composite; photos by Bob Roller)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati are rooting for their home team in Super Bowl LVI, but they also have placed a friendly wager on the outcome of the Feb. 13 showdown between the Rams and the Bengals.

The prelates announced the wager in a joint video posted online Feb. 9.

For his part, Archbishop Gomez offered baked treats from the City of Angels beloved Porto’s Bakery. On his end, Archbishop Schnurr offered a case of Cincinnati’s own Graeter’s ice cream.

“I look forward to celebrating the Rams’ victory with the delicious Graeter’s ice cream that Archbishop Schnurr will be sending my way,” commented Archbishop Gomez.

“One of the best parts of the Bengals’ triumph will be digging into the famous Porto’s pasteles and cookies provided by my friend Archbishop Gomez,” responded Archbishop Schnurr.

The prelates also are encouraging Catholics to get involved in this friendly exchange by donating to each archdiocese’s Catholic Education Foundation, or CEF, in the spirit of the big game by going to www.bishopsbiggame.com.

“Or follow #BishopsBigGame on social media to see how you can be a part of the excitement and donate to support Catholic school students in the name of your favorite team,” said a news release about the episcopal wager.

“The CEF of the ‘winning’ archdiocese will receive 60% of the total fund and the CEF of the other archdiocese will receive 40% of the total fund,” it said. “All proceeds collected will go directly to the respective CEFs, which provide needs-based tuition assistance for students attending Catholic schools.”

To get things started, each archbishop has made of a donation of $1,000 to the joint fund set up to receive all donations.

“I am so proud of the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the work of the Catholic Education Foundation. Through the generosity of the faithful, the CEF is providing millions of dollars of financial assistance each school year,” Archbishop Schnurr said.

“We may disagree on the winning team, but on Catholic education, our bet is on our Catholic schools in both archdioceses all the way,” added Archbishop Gomez.

“I’m proud of the great work of our students, teachers, staff, families and parish communities that make our Catholic Schools great,” he said, “and for the generous support of the faithful through CEF so that our students have the opportunity to learn and grow to become the leaders of tomorrow.”



On Monday, February 14 at 8 p.m., CTV will debut the special on Rev. Jeffrey J. Walsh’s appointment as the sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan.  Entitled “Bishop-elect Walsh: Living the Call to Servant Leadership”, the special will look back on Fr. Walsh’s early years growing up in Scranton and how his parents and grandparents played a critical role in nurturing his Catholic faith.

We’ll see how the seed for Fr. Walsh’s priestly vocation was planted during a retreat he attended his junior year at the University of Scranton.

Fr. Walsh reflects on how blessed he has been over his 27 years of service to the Church of Scranton and how his varied experiences across the Diocese of Scranton have prepared him for the next chapter in his life.

Fr. Walsh talks about the phone call he received from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States when he first learned that he was appointed as the Sixth Bishop of the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan.

We’ll talk with several of Bishop-elect Walsh’s parishioners at Saint Rose of Lima and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Carbondale regarding their excitement over his appointment as Bishop.

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera and brother priests share their own thoughts on what makes Bishop-elect such a special priest and why they feel is well prepared to take on his new role as Bishop of Gaylord.

We’ll look back on the many ways that Bishop-elect Walsh has used his love for the outdoors to benefit the many parishes he has served here in the Diocese of Scranton.

And finally, Bishop-elect Walsh reflects on God’s divine providence and how it has lead him to this moment in his life where he will soon share the Gospel message with the faithful of Gaylord.

“Bishop-elect Walsh: Living the Call to Servant Leadership” will also air on February 15 at 10:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.; February 21 at 10:30 a.m.; February 24 at 2 p.m. and February 25 at 10:30 a.m.



Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen has launched its 2022 Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign, which is the primary means of financial support for the Kitchen’s mission to provide a free daily meal to area needy. Pictured are Kitchen Advisory Board member Maria McCool, campaign chair; Kitchen Executive Director Rob Williams; and Kitchen Advisory Board President Melissa Pavlowski.

They come for a hot, nutritious daily meal. Some return for a supper served three nights a week. All enjoy a friendly atmosphere and socialization with their fellow guests, and being treated with dignity and respect by staff and volunteers.

Many visit the Client-Choice Food Pantry and Free Clothing Store, getting what they need for themselves and their families.

Approximately 200 men, women and children of all ages benefit from these services provided by Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen in Scranton each day. This includes those who are offered meals through the Mid Valley Outreach Program at parish locations and high-rise housing buildings in Carbondale and Olyphant.

Founded in 1978, the Kitchen has been able to do all of this due to the dedicated service of staff and volunteers, and with financial support from the community – primarily through the annual Host‑for‑a‑Day campaign. The 2022 campaign is now underway.

For a donation of $100 or more, an individual, family, business, community organization or faith-based group can help to sponsor the day’s meal. Recognized sponsorships begin at the $500 contribution level.

Frank Marek (left) picks up food from Father Scott Sterowski, pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Olyphant, at the weekly lunch offered through the partnership with Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen.

In effect, each contributor becomes a “host” for a day. Contributors may then select a date on which they, or someone they designate or memorialize, will be recognized as the provider for that meal.

Through its partnership with the Kitchen, lunch is provided each Wednesday at Holy Cross Parish in Olyphant, where Father Scott Sterowski serves as pastor. Frank Marek is among those who is grateful for this service.

“This is a great opportunity for those in our area to receive a well-balanced meal, especially now, during these financially challenging times,” he said, adding that donations to the Host-for-a-Day campaign are “greatly appreciated and go directly toward providing a hot, nourishing meal to anyone who could use one.”

There has been a significant increase in the number of individuals and families who take advantage of the Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen Client-Choice Food Pantry in recent months. In this photo, pantry volunteer Claire Bannon (foreground) helps a mother and her daughter wrap up groceries they selected.

Sue Ann Edmunds, a resident of the Carbondale Housing Authority North High Rise, loves the meals provided by the Kitchen “because they are tasty and convenient. My income is limited and this is a big help!”

In addition, she is a member of the Housing Authority Team that helps to deliver the meals to other residents. And when she recently had an extra $20 she donated it to the Kitchen “because it’s a great cause!”

While many are familiar with how the Kitchen provides these meals, they might not be aware of just how important the Client-Choice Food Pantry is.

According to Kitchen Executive Director Rob Williams, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals and families who take advantage of the pantry in recent months – well over 1,000 individuals and 503 family servings in January alone. He noted that pantry offerings have expanded to include cleaning supplies and ensure fresh produce each day of operation.

Sue Ann Edmunds, a resident of the Carbondale Housing Authority North High Rise, is grateful for the weekly meals provided by the Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen and is a member of the team that helps to deliver the meals to other residents.

“We see individuals and people with children coming to our food pantry every week,” he said. “They need these items to help feed their families. They are so grateful that we offer this service.”

Maria McCool, a member of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board, is chairing the Host-for-a-Day campaign and leading the effort with her fellow board members.

“We are fortunate to be able to help our sisters and brothers in need even with all the challenges of the pandemic,” she said. “And we are truly blessed by so many in our community who continue to support our mission.”

Past contributors to the campaign are receiving an appeal directly from the Kitchen through the mail or will be contacted by members of the Kitchen’s Advisory Board.

Anyone who does not receive an appeal through the mail can make a Host‑for‑a‑Day gift by calling the Kitchen at 570-342‑5556, or sending a check to Saint Francis of Assisi Kitchen, 500 Penn Avenue, Scranton PA 18509. Donations can also be made online at: www.stfranciskitchen.org or facebook.com/stfranciskitchen.

Also, out of continuing concern for the health and safety of benefactors and board members, the typical Appreciation Reception that concludes the campaign will not be held in a gathered way again this year. Instead, the culmination of the campaign will be marked with a Virtual Celebration consisting of a pre-recorded program. The release date will be Wednesday, April 27, at 6 p.m. on www.facebook.com/stfranciskitchen.

This year the Virtual Celebration will honor Monsignor Constantine V. Siconolfi, founder of the Kitchen, and Toyota of Scranton for outstanding support.

Those who would like to sponsor the Virtual Reception are asked to call the Kitchen at 570-342‑5556.


Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar mosque and university, sign documents during an interreligious meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in this Feb. 4, 2019, file photo. The pope, Sheikh el-Tayeb and U.S. President Biden marked the International Day of Human Fraternity Feb. 4 on the anniversary of the 2019 meeting in Abu Dhabi. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The time has come to live in a spirit of fraternity and build a culture of peace, sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity, Pope Francis said.

“Now is not a time for indifference: either we are brothers and sisters or everything falls apart,” he said in a video message marking the International Day of Human Fraternity Feb. 4.

The international celebration is a U.N.-declared observation to promote interreligious dialogue and friendship on the anniversary of the document on human fraternity signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019 by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Al-Azhar in Egypt.

The pope, the sheikh and U.S. President Joe Biden all issued messages for the commemoration.

“Fraternity is one of the fundamental and universal values that ought to undergird relationships between peoples, so that the suffering or disadvantaged do not feel excluded and forgotten but accepted and supported as part of the one human family. We are brothers and sisters,” the pope said in Italian in his video message.

People must walk together, aware that, “while respecting our individual cultures and traditions, we are called to build fraternity as a bulwark against hatred, violence and injustice,” he said.

“All of us must work to promote a culture of peace that encourages sustainable development, tolerance, inclusion, mutual understanding and solidarity,” he said.

People of different faiths all have a role to play, he said, because “in the name of God, we who are his creatures must acknowledge that we are brothers and sisters.”

And all of humanity lives “under the same heaven,” so believers in God and all people of goodwill should journey together, he added.

“Do not leave it to tomorrow or an uncertain future,” he said. “This is a good day to extend a hand, to celebrate our unity in diversity — unity, not uniformity, unity in diversity — in order to say to the communities and societies in which we live that the time of fraternity has arrived.”

“The path of fraternity is long and challenging, it is a difficult path, yet it is the anchor of salvation for humanity,” the pope said. “Let us counter the many threatening signs, times of darkness and mindsets of conflict with the sign of fraternity that, in accepting others and respecting their identity, invites them to a shared journey.”

The pope encouraged everyone to dedicate themselves to “the cause of peace and to respond concretely to the problems and needs of the least, the poor and the defenseless. Our resolve is to walk side by side, ‘brothers and sisters all,’ in order to be effective artisans of peace and justice, in the harmony of differences and with respect for the identity of each.”

In his video message, Sheikh el-Tayeb said, “This celebration means a quest for a better world where the spirit of tolerance, fraternity, solidarity and collaboration prevails. It also indicates a hope for providing effective tools to face the crises and challenges of contemporary humanity.”

“We have embarked on this path in the hope for a new world that is free of wars and conflicts, where the fearful are reassured, the poor sustained, the vulnerable protected and justice administered,” he said.

In Biden’s written statement commemorating the day, he encouraged everyone to work together to overcome the global challenges that no one nation or group of people can solve on their own.

“For too long, the narrowed view that our shared prosperity is a zero-sum game has festered — the view that for one person to succeed, another has to fail,” he wrote. “This cramped idea has been a source of human conflict for centuries.”

Problems such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and increased violence, “require global cooperation from people of all backgrounds, cultures, faiths and beliefs. They require us to speak with one another in open dialogue to promote tolerance, inclusion and understanding,” and to guarantee that “all people are treated with dignity and as full participants in society,” he wrote.

“On this day, we affirm — in words and in actions — the inherent humanity that unites us all,” the president wrote. “Together, we have a real opportunity to build a better world that upholds universal human rights, lifts every human being and advances peace and security for all.”

Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and member of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, said in a statement that the day “is an opportunity to advance the sense of responsibility toward the poor, vulnerable, homeless and oppressed.”

“I hope human fraternity will turn into a global movement of promoting moral values shared by all peoples from all walks of life,” the cardinal said.

The Diocesan Offices for Parish Life and Vocations will begin the winter/spring Eucharistic Adoration series on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022, in Williamsport, at Saint Boniface Parish, 326 Washington Blvd.
All are welcome to join at 7 p.m. for prayer, a dynamic talk from Father Alex Roche, Diocesan Director of Vocations and Seminarians, praise & worship music, opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and a social.

SCRANTON – All people, including those with special abilities, have gifts to contribute to the life of the Church. The Diocese of Scranton embraces and welcomes the talents of all individuals in building up the Kingdom of God.

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as principal celebrant for a Mass for Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Awareness on Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton.

The Mass is open to everyone. It will be broadcast live on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton. A livestream will also be made available on the Diocese of Scranton’s website and YouTube channel and a link provided on all Diocesan social media platforms.

Partners in the annual Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities Awareness Mass include Saint Joseph’s Center in Scranton, the Diocesan SPRED community (Special Religious Education), The Arc of Northeastern Pennsylvania, Order of the Alhambra and the Catholic Deaf Community of the Diocese of Scranton.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some people who would have traditionally attended the Mass may not be able to participate in person, but are encouraged to take part in the televised broadcasts.


Clara Simrell, a sixth grade student at All Saints Academy in Scranton, places a piece of duct tape on her principal, Brittany Haynos-Krupski on Feb. 3, 2022.

SCRANTON – As the 19 Catholic Schools across the Diocese of Scranton continue to celebrate Catholic Schools Week – one event at All Saints Academy was “stickier” than the rest.

On Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, students had the opportunity to duct tape their principal, Brittany Haynos-Krupski, to a cafeteria wall. The event was a fundraiser for the school’s Parent Teacher Organization.

“We were researching and found this idea on Pinterest and she (Haynos-Krupski) was like, ‘Sure, I’ll do it,’ and the rest is history,” JoAnn Lameo, All Saints Academy PTO President, said.

For a two-dollar donation, students got a two-foot strip of duct tape to help hold their principal in place.

“It was something interesting. It was an out-of-the-box idea, not something I was expecting but the school is always about new things. I think the kids really enjoyed it,” eighth grader Jacob Roberts said.

Offering students the unique opportunity to tape their principal to the wall is just one of the many activities that students at All Saints Academy took part in this week.

“Catholic Schools Week is when we really have fun and everyone enjoys it,” eighth grader Allie Romanchick explained.

“There have been a lot of fun activities like duct taping our principal, we painted earlier today, last year we tie-died t-shirts and had movie days,” eighth grader Ariana Cabelly added.

Since 1974, Catholic Schools Week nationwide have been celebrating the importance of Catholic education. This year’s theme is, “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service.”

Each one of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Scranton have a series of week-long activities planned, which include Masses, open houses in many cases and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.

As he prepares to go to transition to a Catholic high school, Roberts said he would not trade his Catholic school experience for anything.

“It’s definitely a lot more focused. It’s a lot more hands on. It is definitely something that parents should be considering when sending their kids to school. Personally, I think Catholic Schools are one of the best experiences you could have,” he explained.

Cabelly just started at All Saints Academy last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and said she couldn’t have felt more welcome.

“All the students and teachers are nice and welcoming. For me, I went to a public school for almost all my life and when switching I was very nervous, but it was a nice and welcoming community,” she said.

Through its duct tape fundraiser, the students raised $670 for the All Saints Academy Parent Teacher Organization. The group has many other fundraisers planned to help support its annual Fun Day and Teacher Appreciation Week.


Allie Romanchick, an eighth grade student at All Saints Academy, helps duct tape her principal, Brittany Haynos-Krupski, to a cafeteria wall as part of a fundraiser Feb. 3, 2022.
Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 2, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis said that when he was little, he thought the phrase “the communion of saints” in the Creed meant that the saints in heaven were receiving Communion.

Instead, the communion of saints expresses how “every member of the church is bound to me in a profound way and this bond is so strong that it cannot be broken even by death,” he said Feb. 2 during his weekly general audience.

Concluding his series of audience talks about St. Joseph, Pope Francis recited a prayer he said he has recited every day for more than 40 years.

But while he was reading it, a man in the back of the audience hall began shouting, including about wearing masks. Vatican police escorted him out of the building.

As soon as he finished his prayer, Pope Francis told the people in the hall that the man had a problem; “I don’t know if it is physical, psychological or spiritual, but he is our brother with a problem. I would like to finish by praying for him, our brother who is suffering, poor man. If he’s yelling it is because he is suffering, has some problem. Don’t be deaf to the needs of this man.”

The pope then led the crowd in praying a Hail Mary for him.

In his main audience talk, Pope Francis said he wanted to be clear about the difference between devotion to a saint, even to St. Joseph or Mary, and superstition or idolatry.

“Sometimes even Christianity can fall into forms of devotion that seem to reflect a mentality that is more pagan than Christian,” he said. But “the fundamental difference is that our prayer and the devotion of the faithful people is not based on trust in a human being, or in an image or an object, even when we know that they are sacred.”

“It is not the saints who work miracles, but only the grace of God that acts through them,” he said.

A man holds a mask as he yells while Pope Francis speaks during the general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Feb. 2, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The saints, whether canonized or not, he said, are part of the community of the church, a gathering not of the perfect but of “saved sinners.”

And just as a person can have a friendship with another parishioner, he or she can have a relationship “with a brother or sister in heaven,” the pope said. “The saints are friends” and devotion “is actually a way of expressing the love that comes from this bond that unites us.”

“In Christ no one can ever truly separate us from those we love,” he said. “Only the manner of being with them changes, but nothing and no one can break this bond. The communion of saints holds together the community of believers on earth and in heaven.”

LAFLIN – As a new mother, Rosemary LaBar of Dallas feels it is important to share her belief that all human life, including that of the unborn, is sacred.

That is why she bundled-up her four-month-old daughter, Josie, putting the infant in a baby stroller to join more than 100 other people at the Diocese of Scranton’s Vigil Mass for Life on Jan. 20, 2022, at Saint Maria Goretti Parish in Laflin.

“It was important for me to come because I think that being pro-life isn’t just about changing the law, you have to show up and be there for mothers and I wanted to show up and be here,” LaBar said.

Born and raised Catholic, LaBar is hopeful the U.S. Supreme Court might reverse its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion by upholding a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks. A decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is expected this summer.

“I’m definitely hopeful. I’m part of a couple pro-life groups online. It’s not just a religious thing anymore. I see a larger number of secular people who just understand that human life begins at conception and it should be protected,” she added.

Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Mass for Life. He was just a junior in high school when the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down.

Even though the battle to end abortion has been challenging and long – almost 50 years – Bishop Bambera agreed this past year has given people a reason to be hopeful.

“While the battle is far from won, with states like our neighbor to the east in New Jersey that recently codified into state law an individual’s right to an abortion, including late-term abortions, the United States Supreme Court has engaged the question of abortion rights more intensely than ever before,” the bishop said. “As we wait for a determination by the Court, we would do well to keep ourselves focused on the goal of our journey and the example of Jesus. Otherwise, we risk losing our way by engaging perspectives that distract from, rather than serve, the noble ends of our efforts to preserve the sanctity of human life.”

The Vigil Mass for Life was scheduled on the eve of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Recognizing that some people might not want to travel because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the diocese organized the Mass as a special prayer opportunity for all those who believe that every life has value, dignity and worth.

“The theme for this year’s march, ‘Equality Begins in the Womb,’ emerged in response to the national dialogue about the nature of equality that our country has continued to engage, particularly in the last few years. Citing the tragic reality of inequality that has impacted our land as a result of race, country of origin, disability status, age and economic background, organizers of the event sought to build upon the vital need for our country and people to finally put to rest divisions among us. They stated, ‘What matters is the fact that each of us is a human being. What matters is that life is precious, and that because it has inherent human dignity, it should be protected from the moment of conception,’” Bishop Bambera said.

Reflecting on all three readings from the Mass, the bishop noted that the sacred scriptures are filled with words that command us to reverence every life that comes into our world.

“What they expect from us as Christians is clear and unambiguous … Our welcome into God’s eternity will be determined by nothing short of our willingness to reverence, respect and serve the poorest and most vulnerable among us in whom Christ is present,” he explained.

During his homily, Bishop Bambera also shared the personal story of his grandmother who refused the advice of doctors to have an abortion after becoming sick during the pregnancy of her sixth child in the 1920s.

The bishop recounted the words that his grandmother said, words the bishop said have always spoken powerfully to him about life, faith, trust and God: “Any mother would give her life for her child. How can I chose who lives and who dies. I’ll leave that choice to God.”

While her baby was born healthy, the bishop’s grandmother continued to get sicker following childbirth. She died one month later.

“If we have learned nothing else during the past two years in which we have had to confront the deadly coronavirus pandemic, I hope we have come to appreciate the value of human life as never before. I hope we’ve also come to understand that so much of life is beyond our ability to control and, on our own, we are helpless to address the challenges that confront us,” the bishop added. “Only by handing ourselves over to the power of God – by trusting in his wisdom, grace and mercy – and only by working together to care for the lives that have been given to us will we ever discover a way forward filled with peace and hope for all.”

The bishop ended his homily by thanking those in attendance for their witness to the sanctity of human life – God’s greatest gift to the world.

“On this day in which we recall a tragic moment in our history that legalized the taking of innocent, unborn lives, may we resolve through our prayers and actions to set aside the divisive behavior that has plagued us as a people, a nation and a Church. In so doing, may we begin to carve a way forward together first as brothers and sisters who believe in and treat every human being with equality and reverence, from the moment of conception in the womb until God, in his providence, takes us home at the end of our journey of life,” Bishop Bambera said.