My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,It is very providential that last month, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson, thereby overturning the infamous and wrongful decision of Roe v. Wade, which had declared abortion to be a constitutional right. Although the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was celebrated this year on June 24, because it always occurs in the liturgical calendar on the Friday after Corpus Christi, normally June 24 is the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist. How fitting that in future years the anniversary of the United States declaring in Dobbs v. Jackson that abortion is not a constitutional right will be observed on the birthday of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Our Lord and Savior! The decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson marks an important moment for our nation, lifting a cloud that has hung over our country for nearly a half century. There is no way to undo the tragedy of tens of millions of innocent lives lost or the decades of division sown by the Roe v. Wade decision. But, for the sake of future generations, we can now move forward with a more honest debate and efforts to advance policies and support programs that protect innocent life and promote stability and security for vulnerable mothers. Much work remains to be done on both fronts, and that work will now necessarily have more of a local focus, particularly in our own home state of Illinois. Importantly, these efforts must include prayer and concerted attentiveness to preserve peace in the face of recent violence, anti-Catholic bigotry, intimidation, and criminal vandalism against churches and government officials. We must also pray for the conversion of those who continue to deny that the right to life of unborn babies should be protected from the moment of conception. Such conversion comes through God’s grace, with which we generously cooperate by giving an example of our care for children and adults throughout life until the moment of natural death. In this regard, we in the Catholic Church — clergy, religious, as well the lay Christian faithful — must redouble our already robust efforts to help mothers and their children. This includes volunteering and giving to crisis pregnancy centers, Catholic Charities, Catholic food banks, St. Vincent de Paul Societies, and organizations like the Catholic Children’s Home in Alton, and the St. Martin de Porres Center in Springfield. The people of the pro-life movement must increase their commitment to helping organizations like these, as the Dobbs ruling and a culture that more and more is recognizing the dignity of human life inside the womb will mean that more support is needed. That support will also be needed in our area specifically because Illinois politicians passed laws in recent years making the killing of human life in the womb a “fundamental right” and providing for taxpayer funding of abortion. These politicians are already advertising around the Midwest that Illinois will welcome mothers here for abortion. As of this past June 1, Illinois politicians repealed parental notification, which had been required when a minor was seeking abortion. So, with abortion becoming more pronounced in Illinois, our work to defend human life and help mothers and their children must become more pronounced. For nearly 50 years, the guise of catchphrases like “choice,” “reproductive rights,” and “women’s health” has normalized the killing of innocent children in the womb, so it is not unexpected that pro-abortion activists will spread lies and turn to violence. When evil loses its grip on something, it uses evil to fight back. So, we in the pro-life movement must stand strong and faithful, but always peaceful, as we promote civility and common concern for our neighbor, so our culture can prosper. Science has proven that a unique human being is present at the moment of conception. The sound of a heartbeat and image of the child on an ultrasound machine proves just that. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. Our prayers now should be to thank God for the Supreme Court’s ruling and for more people to embrace the greatest gift, the gift of life. May God give us this grace. Amen.