It wasn’t until 2002, when Latvia’s parliament was moving to legalize abortion, that a newly ordained priest broke his silence, writing a dramatic letter to a mainstream newspaper revealing how he himself had almost been a victim of abortion.
Titled “Why I was lucky,” the now Archbishop of Riga Zbigņevs Stankevičs explained that if his mother had listened to his aunt in 1954, he would not be alive today.
“When my mother was pregnant, my aunt, who was a doctor, she proposed [an] abortion. My mother was 40 years old. [But] my mother was a believer, a Catholic, and she rejected this proposal,” he told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive interview in Rome during the Vatican’s Synod on the Family.
“And so I could share this experience that I was lucky because I was not aborted.”
In an online abridged version of his original 2002 letter, Stankevičs passionately defends human life from the moment of conception based on biological and theological arguments.
“The Church has a duty to defend everyone's right to life and cannot remain silent when the most vulnerable are wronged,” he wrote at that time.
Stankevičs made it clear in his letter where the Catholic Church stood on the issue, writing: “The Church has always held that any intentionally induced abortion is morally evil.”
Despite the priest’s efforts, abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy became law in 2002. At the same time, due to pro-life efforts, the country’s abortion rate has fallen from 44,886 abortions in 1991 (compared to 34,633 births) to about 7,000 abortions in 2011.
Stankevičs was appointed Archbishop in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. He has made outspoken comments during the Synod on the Western world’s continued push to mainstream homosexuality around the world.