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Tenth-grade winner, archdiocese’s pro-life essay contest - 2018

“You will know the Truth and It will set you free,” Pope John Paul II said to a group of earnest onlookers during a homily in Baltimore, Maryland. With deep concern and passion in his eyes, the Pope went on to say, “Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” But what do these words mean and what do they mean in relation to the moral issue of abortion?

What Pope John Paul II meant was that God has given us the gift of free will. We have each been individually blessed by our allowance to make our own choices, whether toward God or away from him. This is truly an amazing gift, and this quality gives us our personhood – we are not robots, we are conscious beings that are able to reason and act on accord of our own will. While this is our greatest gift, unless we act in accord with God’s divine plan, fulfillment is impossible. God is love, and true self-fulfillment is found in the ever merciful and loving presence of God, not in the pleasures of the earth and flesh. So truly, it is a God-given right to search for his presence, which means we have a right “to-do what we ought.”

Because this God-given right is only maximized and fulfilled when we do what we ought, the decision made by the Supreme Court case in Roe vs. Wade made humanity less free by guiding us away from the fulfillment found in the presence of God. We stray far from our true freedom when we are not only led down a path of sin but told that it is just.

In C.S Lewis’ work The Screwtape Letters, Wormwood, a devil in training, and Screwtape, Wormwood’s uncle and mentor, have a conversation on how best to tear humanity away from God and lead them to Hell. One proposed idea was to convince humanity that their sins are justified, and even good. This is visible in the “right” to abortion that convinces humanity that abortion is fine. These sins lead us away from God and toward Hell, the absence of truth and love. As humans, we have the right to pursue God, a right “to do as we ought” that leads us to perfect freedom in Heaven. What freedoms truly lie in separation from God, in utter suffering and pain?

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