The following comes from a Jan. 22 story in the Washington Post.
….Last weekend, the five dioceses in Southern California held their first “One Life” event, a march and fair timed to this week’s anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, and highlighting not only abortion but also homelessness, foster care and elderly rights. More than 10,000 people attended the Los Angeles event.
On Wednesday, more than 100 Catholic leaders — including 31 presidents of Catholic colleges and universities — released a petition calling on Congress to pass immigration reform, which the document calls “a pro-life issue.”
Kathleen Domingo, coordinator of the Los Angeles Archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace — which organized One Life — said that Archbishop José Gomez created the idea for the event in response to Francis’s emphasis on all kinds of human issues.
“His vision was a celebration of the beauty and dignity of every human life,” Domingo said of Gomez.
“Absolutely, it takes place around Roe v. Wade, because abortion is the biggest civil rights issue of our time. But we aren’t making distinctions between different things. Every human life matters — that’s the point.”
In the same spirit, Gomez created Domingo’s office in 2011 by merging the “justice and peace” office with the “life” office, which had handled efforts on abortion, end-of-life issues and capital punishment.
Catholics have been debating the proper place of abortion in the hierarchy of issues since Roe v. Wade was decided, with some saying it holds the highest theological priority and shouldn’t be muddled in with other topics that may be less black and white and less fundamental. But Francis’s framing of such issues as care for the elderly, economic inequality and loneliness as urgent — rather than abortion and same-sex marriage — has forced Catholics to consider what being an advocate of “life” means.
“My suspicion is that a number of people have gotten what we’ve come to call the memo from Pope Francis,” said Terrence Tilley, a theologian at Fordham University. “That is, we want to be a church that is pastoral and welcoming and not to war against the culture but to work to convert those who have to live in the culture.” Working against abortion goes from being a litmus test, Tilley said, “to one of the things you do.”