Statement from Catholic, Lutheran leaders expresses dismay over harvesting body parts from abortion

Erik Lunsford/The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, have issued a statement against the harvesting of body parts from aborted babies.

Issued Oct. 5, the statement refers to the undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress, which depict Planned Parenthood officials and others discussing the transfer of body parts from aborted babies, to be used for research. Since July, the Irvine, Calif.-based organization has released 11 videos, which in turn have prompted an investigations into Planned Parenthood’s activities in numerous states, including Missouri.

“Like millions of Americans, including those in the Roman Catholic Church and The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, we have been shaken to the core by what we have witnessed: intact babies, at
times still alive, having their body parts harvested as a commodity,” the statement from Archbishop Carlson and President Harrison read. “We are shocked at the image of tiny hands and feet seen in a glass pie
plate. We are horrified at what we have seen and heard. Such actions and attitudes have no place in our society.”

The statement described the videos as “offensive” but pointed out that they have only dealt with aspects of abortion, not abortion itself, which became a constitutional right after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision.

“Over 57 million unborn children have been lost to abortion in our nation since 1973,” the statement reported. “The toll of these lives lost is enormous. We are missing sons and daughters, siblings, spouses, coaches,
scholars, mentors, and friends. This loss is symptomatic of a loss of respect for human life in our society today. In so many ways, our culture seeks to deny the humanity of the unborn, of the elderly or of
someone with a disability.”

Archbishop Carlson and President Harrison also affirmed their continued commitment to offer resources to
help parents, regardless of faith background, who need medical, financial or social service assistance during pregnancy and afterward. Both churches also stand ready to assist parents who make an adoption plan for their child. (The archdiocese’s Good Shepherd Children and Family Services and the Synod’s Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri provide adoption services.)

Cardinal John J. Carberry formed the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate in 1973 in response to the Roe vs. Wade decision. It was the first agency of its kind in a U.S. Catholic diocese and became recognized as a model for respect life offices in other dioceses across the nation. The apostolate promotes the Catholic Church’s teachings on respect for human life from conception until natural death, based on the four pillars of spiritual support, pastoral care, education and public policy.

The apostolate’s resources include its monthly Helpers of God’s Precious Infants Mass and Rosary procession to Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, Project Rachel and Project Joseph post-abortion healing
ministry, financial assistance to parents in crisis pregnancies through the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund and LifeLine Coalition, the annual convention (this year on Oct. 25) and education outreach, including the
Right START chastity education program.

“It’s been exciting and uplifting to work with the LCMS as together we witness to the deepest truth of our convictions and our common commitment to life," said Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the apostolate. “I am confident that working together to create a culture of life will inspire more people of faith
and good will to unite and end abortion.”

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) is a mission-oriented, Bible-based, confessional Christian denomination headquartered in St. Louis. Founded in 1847, The LCMS has more than 2.2 million baptized members in about 6,100 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors.

Over the past few months, the Synod has responded to the undercover videos, including statements from President Harrison and other members of leadership, and released a video calling for an end to abortion. The Synod’s Life Ministry has numerous resources, including, “What is This? Looking at Life in the Womb,” an ultrasound education project, an annual life conference and a speakers’ bureau.

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