October is known as Respect Life Month, a time when the church shines a special light on the life issues. Can you tell us more about that?
Respect Life Month is very important to reinforce the reality that we as Catholics are strong voices for life from conception to natural death. As a church – the people of God – we always give attention to and offer prayers for the life issues, but it’s also critical that during this month we continue to educate ourselves on pro-life issues. Statistics indicate that the number of abortions in the United States has decreased greatly from its peak of about 1.6 million in 1990 to under 1 million last year. Some would say that’s because of artificial contraception. However, I’ve had several young couples mention to me how they are using Natural Family Planning (NFP) and how that has made a significant difference in their marital love. We are blessed that our archdiocese offers training in three different methods of NFP – the Couple-to-Couple League teaches the Sympto-Thermal method; our Family Life Apostolate teaches the Sympto-Pro method; and the Hope Woman’s Clinic teaches the Creighton model. (For more information, you can call the Family Life Apostolate at 504-861-6243.)
Recently you made a decision asking Catholics in the Archdiocese of New Orleans not to raise funds for or donate to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Why is that?
According to the Komen Foundation’s own documents, for the fiscal year 2016, “eight Komen affiliates (in the U.S.) are funding eight grants totaling approximately $363,290 for screening and education services at Planned Parenthood clinics in communities served by those affiliates.” While Komen insists that “under no circumstances” were the funds used “for abortion procedures or other non-breast health services,” it is not morally possible to compartmentalize the use of such funds. Every dollar given to Planned Parenthood, even for “non-abortion” procedures, creates a financial benefit for an organization that each year performs the most abortions in the U.S. The moral teaching of the Catholic Church does not allow us to support abortion or any organization that funds abortion. If we support an organization that violates our pro-life stance, we, in turn, share morally in the unethical behavior.
You have spoken many times about the array of pro-life issues.
Yes. Protecting the life of the unborn child in the womb is of utmost importance to us in the Catholic Church, but we must continue to do all that we have done in the past and more to call people to respect human life across the board. In the creation story, God reminds us that we are made in his image and likeness, and as we are created, he breathes his life and spirit into us and calls us by name. As Catholics, we remember there are other pro-life issues such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, the death penalty, human trafficking, immigration, racism, pornography and the environment. These are hot-button issues of our time. The immigration issue calls us to find a way to show not only justice but also charity to those who are seeking a new and safer life.
Many people don’t realize the scope of human trafficking, especially in the Greater New Orleans area, where women and minors are sold for sex. Human trafficking is modern-day slavery. It’s important that we are not pro-life on just one issue. To be Catholic and pro-life means that we embrace all these issues and work toward a respect for life and human dignity. It’s not like going into a cafeteria and picking which issues we will support. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, calls us to foster respect for human life in all of these circumstances.
You’ve also got some great news about the opening later this month of the Woman’s New Life Center and Hope Woman’s Clinic on South Claiborne Avenue directly adjacent to the Planned Parenthood facility.
This is such wonderful news. The Woman’s New Life Center and Hope Women’s Clinic will be a two-pronged approach to help women in unplanned pregnancies and women with other health issues. The 5,800-square-foot facility at 4612 South Claiborne is two stories and has off-street parking underneath. All of the services at the Woman’s New Life Center will be free – let me repeat that, all services will be free. That includes professional counseling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and post-abortion counseling. Hope Woman’s Clinic, which will be directed by Dr. Susan Caldwell, will offer medical services to women through private insurance, Medicare or at low cost. The fact that this center for life is located directly across Planned Parenthood’s fence is a great blessing. We are grateful to Angie Thomas for her leadership and her service as CEO of the Woman’s New Life Center. There is so much being done in our archdiocese to promote life. I thank God for everyone who has made this possible.
What’s your prayer for this month?
We should never forget to pray for women who have had an abortion, that they may come to ask for and to know God’s mercy. Let us also raise to the Lord those who are contemplating abortion. We must pray for those who perform abortions or assist women in having an abortion so that they will come to a change of heart.
Questions for Archbishop Aymond may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.