By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3, 2009 ( – On the eve of the March for Life last month, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City delivered a hard-hitting homily against those who place pro-life concerns below economic issues, and called for a return to chastity as the antidote for the twin evils of contraception and abortion. (See the complete homily here:

The archbishop, who addressed an overflow congregation in Trinity College’s Notre Dame Chapel from the main vigil mass at the National Shrine, began by warning against attempts to downplay the pro-life movement.  He criticized those who want the abortion issue to “just go away,” but propose as a solution that pro-lifers “get over it and just accept the state-sanctioned killing of unborn children in our nation.”  

Others, he said, argue that pro-life concerns are less urgent than the economic crisis and the war on terror – but such people “are terribly mistaken.”

“In fact, how we resolve abortion and other fundamental moral issues will largely determine the character of our nation and our ability to contend successfully with external and internal threats to our nation,” said the archbishop.  “How we settle the abortion issue will determine if we choose to be a nation of self-indulgence, willing to pay any price, even the deaths of our own children, for our insatiable pursuit for pleasure or a nation who will sacrifice heroically to protect and provide for the weakest and most vulnerable.”

He also decried the “well orchestrated campaign, by some prominent Catholics, to encourage Americans to accept abortion as a ‘settled’ legal issue.”

“As we celebrate the inauguration of our first President of African-American descent, I say: Thank God that the abolitionists, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and other heroes of the Civil Rights Movement did not acquiesce to the acceptance of injustices that seemed so entrenched in law and society,” said Naumann.

Naumann acknowledged that, given the enormous sway of pro-abortion advocates, “If we trusted only in our own human power and ingenuity, we would despair.”  But rather than succumb to compromise, Naumann said pro-lifers should compare their struggle to the Old Testament story of Gideon’s army, which God diminished to remind the Israelites of their dependence on divine aid.

“If we feel weak against the power of abortion advocates, if we feel not well connected with those in power, if we feel despised and looked down upon then we should rejoice because we are perfect for God’s army,” he said.  “The weaker, the more incompetent, the more ill-equipped we seem in the world’s estimation, the better suited we are to make it clear that it is God that is working through us.”

Naumann also reflected on Saint Agnes, whose feast it was that evening, as an apt patron for the pro-life movement because of her remarkable youth, chastity, and courage. 

The renewal of chastity, he said, is key to the pro-life movement, as abortion is a corollary of the contraceptive culture.  “The sexual revolution’s attempt to redefine the meaning of sexual intimacy – as being exclusively the pursuit of pleasure and the failure of contraceptives to always prevent the conception of new life – made abortion a necessary back-up for failed contraception,” said Naumann.

“We will never be able to completely correct abortion and its surrounding issues without re-establishing the true meaning of sexual intimacy: namely that it is only authentic when the complete physical gift of oneself to another corresponds to the complete and permanent commitment to the welfare of the other as expressed in the marital vows,” said Naumann.

“We come to rescue the soul of our nation – to challenge it … to be true to its own principles of protecting the most fundamental right, a right that no state has the authority to deny and a right that every state has an obligation to protect,” he concluded. 

(See the complete homily here: