By John-Henry Westen

WASHINGTON, February 1, 2008 ( – For the diocese and archdiocese of Kansas City, the focus for 2008 in terms of the battle for life are similar. Beyond the presidential election, the focus is fighting against research which destroys human embryos. spoke with Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann and Kansas City, Missouri Bishop Robert Finn at the March for Life in Washington.

Side by side, but separated by the Missouri River, the dioceses both have to deal with the Stowers Institute on the Missouri side, which spends tens of millions on promoting embryonic stem cell research. 

As they discussed what seemed most pressing to them at the dawn of 2008, they both noted the Presidential election. Bishop Finn told that he hopes to have a “strong pro-life president,” adding, however, that the “the likelihood of it seems less than we hope for.”

Nevertheless, he said, “We have to be full of hope, we have to persevere, keep praying.  We have to realize that it’s many little things that accomplish the goal. It’s not just the president, it’s not just an obvious victory, but the perseverance and trust in Almighty God and asking and inviting Him to use us again and again to accomplish this great goal – protection of human life.”

Archbishop Naumann said similarly: “The elections are going to be very important because so much depends on electing good people, particularly the President.”  The Archbishop continued, “That always has to be undergirded with prayer.  It has to be complemented with the alternatives of love.  Those that we can’t save by law we can save by love.”

Both Church leaders also plan to continue initiatives to combat destructive research on human embryos in their dioceses. “We continue to work in my state of Missouri especially for a ban on human embryonic stem cell research and human cloning, because this is fundamental and foundational,” Bishop Finn told “This should not be allowed to go forward because it is in effect the destruction of human life, the regarding it as a commodity and using it for very vicious and violent gain.”

Archbishop Naumann noted that his archdiocese would be renewing a “statewide initiative in Kansas on stem cell research,” which the church undertook last year. He noted that the battle in the area is intense because of the Stowers Institute. “They have a lot invested in the type of research that destroys human embryos,” he said, “so I don’t think the other side is going to go away easily on this.”

For the Catholic spiritual leaders of the Cities of Kansas, however, it is primarily a spiritual battle. As Bishop Finn put it: “We’re going to work on prayer. We’re trying to promote in the diocese a greater use of the sacrament of confession, because there is so much alienation and need for reconciliation. This gives power to our prayers. We have to live in the life of Jesus Christ in supernatural grace and then these little things we do become that much more powerful and God can use them.”