The Promise of Christmas

by Gail Quinn

December 16, 2005

One cold night I settled in to watch television. I was looking forward to a heart-warming Christmas movie. Or maybe a story about people feeding the hungry, buying toys for tots, or sheltering those who have no place to live.

As I channel-surfed what I found instead of Christmas good will and warmth were reports and discussions about killing.

Talk show hosts and news commentators talked about the number of men and women in uniform who have been killed in Iraq. It was as if the number was critical, and not the fact that each violent death took the life of human being who is painfully missed by loved ones.

Attention was also riveted on whether U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito should or should not be confirmed for the Supreme Court. People from across the country weighed in with their opinions: yes, Judge Alito will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout pregnancy; or, no, he won't. The discussions never even alluded to the reason why the issue of abortion is contentious, which is this: Every abortion kills a living human being. Sadly, our society not only tolerates but even promotes the taking of life in this way.

In early December, Maryland put to death convicted killer Wesley E. Baker. Days later Virginia's governor commuted the death sentence of Robin Lovitt. And on December 13, California executed Stanley Tookie Williams. (The following day Mississippi executed 77-year-old John Nixon.) News stories centered on which convicted killer would be the 1000th person put to death by the state since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted capital punishment. People were essentially placing bets; there just was no money on the table. The killing goes on and on.

Sadly, our culture has become coarsened as we accept killing as the way to solve problems, whether the problems are personal or global.

But the Christ Child came so that this world could be a better place. A place where love and human kindness could abound. And it is far from too late to turn the tide. We need only be determined to do so. We can find ways to solve global problems, no matter how difficult, without guns and bombs. We can provide women with real help to make pregnancy less overwhelming and abortion unthinkable. And we can stop allowing states to execute people in our names, making of us all, people willing to kill.

As we prepare for the coming of our Savior, please pray for peace in Iraq, for peace in the womb, and for an end to the use of the death penalty.

May the promise of Christmas bring peace and joy to you and to your family.

And may His love change human hearts to value and reverence His gift of life.

Gail Quinn is Executive Director of the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, D.C.