Archbishop Lori’s Address from the Pro-Life Directors’ Meeting

July 16, 2022

Basilica of Assumption, Baltimore


It is a special joy to celebrate Holy Mass with you in this venerable Cathedral, the first Cathedral after the birth of our country.

Ground was broken for this Cathedral in 1806 by Bishop John Carroll and the architect was Benjamin Henry Latrobe, who also served as an architect for the Capitol.

It is said that Thomas Jefferson had a hand in designing the windows in the dome that capture as much natural light as possible.

This Cathedral was designed in neo-classical style, not Gothic, to reflect the spirit of the new republic and was dedicated by the 3rd Archbishop of Baltimore,  Ambrose Maréchal in 1821, 201 years ago, on May 31st 1821, to be exact.

For more than two centuries, this Basilica has stood as a symbol of religious freedom, and as a challenge to America to be true to its founding principles.

It is therefore most appropriate that we gather for Mass in this historic church so soon after the Dobbs decision, which has opened a new chapter in the struggle to recognize the humanity of the unborn and to recognize in law their God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In that spirit, I do welcome you!

 Saint Camillus

We have also gathered on the Feast of St. Camillus de Lellis.

I mention him now, not only because it is his Feast Day, but also because of the relevance of his life for us, and for our ministries of protecting and fostering the lives of the vulnerable.

Camillus, who hails from the 16th century, grew up in the Abruzzi region of Italy.

His early life was not edifying. He was a gambler who lost everything he had. Desperate, he sought and found menial labor at a nearby Capuchin friary. It was there that he made the gamble of his life. He fell in love with the Lord and decided to dedicate his life to him.

His conversion opened his heart to the Lord, & at the same time, to the sick and dying. Soon after his conversion, he began to work with the sick at San Giacomo hospital and shortly thereafter studied for the priesthood.

In 1582, he founded a religious order dedicated to care of the sick and dying. In his love for those he served, he pioneered life-saving procedures, including better nutrition and the quarantine of infected patients.

 The life of St. Camillus vividly illustrates

how turning to the Lord opens our eyes to our neighbors in need, and helps us become the Lord’s agents in repairing bonds of solidary that are broken through fear and indifference.

St. Camillus loved those on whom society had turned their backs.

St. Camillus loved those of whom society was afraid.

In his day, he was a champion of human life and dignity, just as we are called to be in our day and in our society.

 Today’s Scripture Readings

In fact, today’s Feast and today’s Scripture readings call us to undergo a conversion not unlike that of St. Camillus.

It’s not that we’ve gambled away our possessions or that we have otherwise led dissolute lives.

But we have taken a gamble. We have staked our lives on the truth that human life is precious and we have felt called by the Lord to foster and defend it, especially the unborn but also moms in need and other vulnerable persons.

This work of fostering and defending life is demanding – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – and it requires of us that we continually turn to the Lord, and to acknowledge our dependence

upon the One who is the Author of our life and the Lover of our souls.

Today’s reading from the Prophet Micah pulls us in that direction.

Confronting so many affronts to human life and dignity, we may be tempted to throw in the towel – we may feel that the mountains and hills are closing in on us – until we remember how powerfully God in Christ Jesus has delivered us from evil – not the slavery of Egypt and the tyranny of the Pharaohs, but rather the slavery of sin and the grip of death.

What more could the Lord have done for us? And what does he require of us?

“Only to do the right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly before [our] God.”

Rooting our lives in his saving love, we can & we will walk the paths of justice & love, the path which our Savior already walked, the path on which he still accompanies us.

Every day, as we open our hearts afresh to the Lord’s saving love, we grow in the wisdom and love needed to share the truth about human life with one and all – those who are receptive, those who are indifferent, those who are hostile.

Turning to the reading from the Gospel of Matthew, we see something similar.

Here Jesus encounters the Pharisees’ skepticism, a skepticism that cloaked their rejection of him and his saving mission.

After all the miracles Jesus performed, miracles that demonstrated his Lordship, the Pharisees asked him for a sign to prove his authority.

Jesus knew that no sign of his would convince them.

So using the figure of Jonah who spent three nights in the belly of a whale, Jesus foretold his Passion, Death, and his Burial in the Garden – followed by the judgment in which the Pharisees would be condemned.

In our work, we surely encounter skepticism and rejection, both from outside the Church but even from our fellow Catholics.

Nothing we can say or do, it seems, convinces some fellow citizens & co-religionists of the rightness and the goodness and the beauty of innocent vulnerable human life… nothing except the death and resurrection of Christ and power flowing therefrom.

This event, the Paschal Mystery, becomes contemporaneous with us at every Mass, and as it incumbent upon us to tap into the power of this mystery, so that our witness to the truth, goodness, and beauty of human life will indeed move hearts that seem unmovable and open minds that seem tightly closed.


Just as the Lord transformed the mind and heart of St. Camillus and made him an agent of healing and a witness to human dignity, so too, let us allow the Lord continually to transform our hearts, so that we will continue to be agents of a profound healing and transformation in our culture and convincing witnesses to the beautiful gift of human life.

And may God bless us and keep us always in his love!

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.