By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
“Today we continue to commemorate the tragic Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion,” said Bishop Alfred Schlert, main celebrant and homilist of a Pro-Life Mass of Reparation Jan. 21 at St. Charles Borromeo, Ashland.
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973 Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Father Paul Rothermel, pastor of St. Charles Borromeo, concelebrated the 11 a.m. liturgy.
Bishop Schlert thanked Father Rothermel and parishioners for the warm welcome he received at the parish.
Reflecting on attending the March for Life in Washington, D.C., two days prior to the Mass, Bishop Schlert said, “It’s so inspiring to see tens of thousands of people, almost all of them young, rejecting the culture of death, and as good Americans using their conscientious and constitutional rights to march so that someday this scourge of abortion might be free of our land.
“Because as a society, as long as we labor under the scourge of abortion, we cannot be the great nation that God calls us to be. We can’t even be the great nation that our forefathers called us to be when they enshrined so many rights in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.”
Referencing “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” the Bishop said in our nation “life is not protected” due to the scourge of abortion.
“Abortion is painfully present in this country.”
“It’s good for us to come and ask God’s forgiveness,” Bishop Schlert said.
He spoke of Dr. Robert Spencer (1889-1969), who practiced medicine in Ashland and made the national news upon his death in 1969 for having performed 100,000 abortions there from the 1920s until his death.
“He killed about the population of a large American city,” Bishop Schlert said of the 100,000 victims.
“For almost 50 years, Dr. Spencer practiced here in Ashland, and at the time of his death in 1969, it made national news,” Bishop Schlert said. “People came from all over. We have to admit that in many ways it was an open secret of what was transpiring.
“So we come together today with humility of heart, with imploring God’s mercy and his forgiveness for all of us, not just this town, of course, because all of us bear the brunt of allowing abortion to be part of our American society.
“All of us have a vote. All of us can write to our legislators. All of us can pray that our justices on the Supreme Court would soften their hearts and understand that God’s laws as the creator supersede our human laws as a created people.
“Whenever we tinker with God’s laws we go astray – our nation has gone astray.”
Bishop Schlert said for those who say abortion is a woman’s “choice,” it’s not true. “Abortion has a tremendous effect on the father, family and entire society.”
“Ever since abortion became legal in our country in 1973, our society has not become more gentle, more loving or more friendly,” Bishop Schlert said, pointing out how society has been negatively affected by Roe vs. Wade.
“In fact, I think we would all agree it has become more coarse, more belligerent, more violent, more tending to fight with each other. It is a natural byproduct of abortion that when we, as a country, cannot guarantee the right to life of the most defenseless and innocent among us, there is no way that our lives, yours and mine, who are able-bodied people, are secure and respected.
The Bishop noted the importance of praying for mothers who chose abortion believing it was their only option.
“We pray for them in charity, not in condemnation or in judgement, but out of love,” he said. “We pray that the Lord will give them peace and that they would know his forgiveness. We pray for fathers and other family members who are caught up in the trauma of abortion. They are victims as well.”
Bishop Schlert noted the day’s vestments were purple, the color of penitence and reparation, “as we ask for God’s mercy.”
“Whenever the Church wears purple, it’s not for a small reason,” the Bishop said. “The Church wears purple for penitence. The Church wears purple oftentimes at funerals as a sign of mourning. So today is a day of purple. It’s a day to ask God’s forgiveness and mercy upon all of us.
“We ask him to forgive us and to also comfort us and encourage us so that one day we might, especially the youngest here among us this morning, put an end to this scourge that has overtaken our land, so negatively influenced our society.”
As the Mass drew to a close, Father Rothermel said, “It’s a day of sadness for the lives lost, but a day of gladness for our parish for the presence of Bishop Schlert.”
Bishop Schlert prayed “The Prayer of Reparation” at the end of the liturgy.
Members of the Ashland Knights of Columbus Sarto Council 1322 and Girardville Knights of Columbus Father Sheridan Council 748 provided an honor guard.
Bishop Schlert Prays at Pro-Life Memorial
Bishop Alfred Schlert had the opportunity to greet parishioners during a time of fellowship in the parish hall after the Mass.
Members of St. Anne’s Guild provided the refreshments.
After the reception, Bishop Schlert prayed a decade of the rosary with Father Paul Rothermel and members of the Ashland and Girardville Knights of Columbus at the Pro-Life Memorial at the parish cemetery of St. Charles Borromeo.