Many Parts, One Body

May 21, 2009

Pro-life efforts in the Diocese of Birmingham are diverse and widespread.  There are Crisis Pregancy Centers, educational efforts, prayerful witnesses at abortion facilities, education efforts, as well as the normal every day living out of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in our institutions and by individuals, all of which are “Pro-Life.”

My efforts in this office will be focused on communication and support.

We want all Catholics and all individuals of whatever background who live within the Diocese of Birmingham to know, first of all, that when they are experiencing a crisis, difficulty, or challenge related to any aspect of life – at its beginnings to its natural end – the Body of Christ is ready to embrace them in that difficulty and support them in decisions that celebrate God’s gift of life.

But how can they know that unless they are told?

So I’ll be working, first of all, in developing a mailing list of pro-life coordinators from  every parish and Catholic high school in the diocese.

These coordinators – as well as anyone else who would like to be on the mailing list – will receive bimonthly emails of local and national news related to life issues, ideas, bulletin notices and encouragement.

One of my priorities will be to develop a pro-life speaker’s bureau for our diocese with the names of individuals with particular areas of expertise, both in subject matter and experience with various speaking formats and audiences. If you have any names you would like to suggest for this resource list, please let me know.

We will be encouraging all parishes to have Pro-Life Committees and providing training resources and opportunities for those interested in serving on those committtees.

We’ll be working with parishes and local media in giving wider publicity to opportunities for pro-life witness and shared prayer inside churches and out.

That’s only a partial list. Stay tuned to this blog for frequent updates on local activities and resources.



May 21, 2009

Welcome to the blog of the Office of Pro-Life Activities for the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama.

My name is Amy Welborn, and I am currently serving as the coordinator of the office, as a volunteer.

My husband, Michael Dubruiel was serving in this capacity as part of his position as Director of the New Evangelization for the diocese until his sudden death on February 3, 2009.

John Martignoni has assumed the position of Director of the New Evangelization.  Before he began the job on May 1, I had met with several pro-life ministry coordinators in the diocese and in listening to their sense of what the needs are in this area, I discerned that it would be helpful if there was someone in the diocese who could focus solely on the Pro-life office, even short term, and set some processes and programs in place to facilitate communication and strengthen the diocese’s active support for Pro-life ministries.

I presented the idea to Bishop Baker, and volunteered to work in this area as a volunteer. He readily agreed, and so here we are!

I have worked in and around the pro-life movement for years. In the early 1980s, I served as chapter coordinator for Feminists for Life, and then in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I worked as assistant director and media contact for Gainesville Right to Life in Gainesville, FL.

If you would like to learn more about me, you can visit my web page or my own personal blog.

In terms of communication with me, please feel free to contact me in any of the following ways:

By email –

By telephone, at the Chancery: 205-838-8322, and ask for the Office of the New Evangelization.

Please feel free to leave comments here in this blog, as well.

What Would Have Happened?

January 26, 2009

Bishop Baker’s Pro-Life Mass Homily

January 26, 2009

Today is the Feast of Saint Antony of the Desert. Saint Antony was born to wealthy landowners in 251 AD in Lower Egypt. When he was 18 his parents died and left him the care of his younger sister. When he was 34, he had a conversion experience while attending the Divine Liturgy and hearing today’s Gospel. The words that struck him were the words Jesus addressed to the rich young man, ““If you wish to be perfect,  go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matthew 19:21)

Antony took these words to heart, he gave away all of his material possessions, placed his unmarried sister under the care of a group of Christian virgins, and ventured out into the desert to follow Christ.

What we know about Saint Antony, we know from Saint Athanasius who wrote his life story. Saint Antony lived in a tomb, (he is the patron saint of grave diggers for this reason)—and local villagers sustained him by bringing him food. Here he was constantly harassed by the devil, who on one occasion beat him physically and left him unconscious. The villagers finding him in this condition carried him off to a nearby Church. When Antony regained his health, he left to go off to an abandoned Roman fort.

Here the devil came to him under the guise of wild beasts, snakes and scorpions—threatening to attack him and cut him into pieces. Saint Antony laughed at them and said scornfully, “If any of you have any authority over me, only one would have been sufficient to fight me.” As soon as he spoke these words they vanished like smoke and God gave him victory over the devil.

Anyone who sets out to follow Christ more perfectly is going to encounter the evil one. They will experience opposition, criticism, even threats against one’s well-being and life. Our Lord promised his followers that they would be persecuted, and the countless list of martyrs that we reverence as saints reminds all of us of this truth.

 To follow Jesus Christ in our day, one must embrace the cause for the right to life from the moment of conception to natural death.  Those of us who have engaged in this battle have encountered evil along the way in one form or another, and if like Saint Antony we have placed our trust and faith in God we have witnessed the evil vanishing like smoke at the very moment that it seemed to be winning the upper hand.

On this 36th  anniversary of the legalization of abortion in this country, we have seen many battles. These battles have wearied many—some out of fear, others from apathy, still others from guilt. And now we stand at a decisive moment in the history of the Pro-Life movement, but we needn’t  be wiled by the devil into thinking of it as a hopeless moment or moment of defeat.

Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that what is impossible for humans is possible for God, “for God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

In 1963 Lyndon Baines Johnson became the thirty-sixth president of the United States. When he assumed the office of the Presidency, due to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Johnson had a record of voting against legislation in congress that would have banned lynching, denied federal funding to segregated schools,  and eliminated poll taxes that effectively kept poor people from being able to vote. At the time it looked as though what ever advances had been made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and those who had been marching for civil rights throughout this nation were doomed to failure.

But LBJ will forever be linked to the greatest civil rights reversal to occur in this country—when he helped persuade fellow southerners to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Congress, which he later signed into law.

Please God , we will one day look back at this time and say the same about President –elect Barack Obama when it comes to the issue of Life. We know that during his campaign he vowed to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law—an act that would be devastating to the cause of life, not to mention the future of Catholic hospitals and other charitable organizations within our church.  But we also know that with God “nothing is impossible.”

Saint Antony recognized the feebleness of the devils attempts to dissuade him from following Christ—we must learn from the example of this saint and all the saints that our God is more powerful than anything the devil might throw at us. Toward the end of this Liturgy, we will pray a prayer  that I composed for all of us to say for our soon to be president and all who serve us in the government. We need to have frequent recourse to prayer and implore God to move the hearts of those who govern us.

I have also asked that each parish in the Diocese of Birmingham participate in a letter writing campaign. Some parishes have already carried this out, writing letters to the President –elect, our Alabama senators, and congressional representative. We need to make our voices heard—for those who have no voice to cry out for help!

Later this morning we will March peacefully as a sign of our support for the unborn and their inalienable right to life. Birmingham is a city famous for marches, and this Monday’s holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. cannot help but recall to us the famous march from Selma to Montgomery and the  marches that involved school children here in our city. May our march and the march later this week in Washington, D.C. (which many of us will also participate in) be a resounding message to those both here in our community and to the nation that there is unfinished business in the civil rights movement—not all are equal yet, not all are free to live yet!

“What must I do to gain eternal life?” The rich young man asked.

“If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments,” Jesus responded.

“Which ones?” the rich young man continues. Let me close with the first one Jesus mentioned to the rich young man and in this morning’s Gospel to us:

“You shall not kill.”

May Our Lady of Joyful Hope intercede for us as we pray, write letters, march for the cause of life—giving us hope that we will trust as she did when she spoke her fiat, believing that with God all things are possible.



Sample Letter Against the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)

November 21, 2008



Dear (Mr. President Elect Obama, Senator, Congressman, or Congresswoman):

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would far exceed the codification of Roe V. Wade through its creation of a “fundamental right” to abortion. If enacted, this legislation would deprive states of their ability to limit and regulate abortion by invalidating laws that prohibit “partial-birth” and late term abortions. It would also limit measures designed to protect women from unsafe clinics and uninformed decisions, and undercut the conscience protections of physicians, hospitals and hospital personnel.

In addition, FOCA would subsidize abortion with the tax dollars of citizens who are morally opposed to abortion and committed to the protection of innocent human life. In each of these areas, as well as others, the “Freedom of Choice Act” is extreme and expansive in its reach, and I ask you to do everything in your power to prevent its passage.


                                    Sincerely yours,

Fight the Freedom of Choice Act

November 14, 2008

Just Look

October 28, 2008

From the Archdiocese of New York by Cardinal Egan:

The picture on this page is an untouched photograph of a being that has been within its mother for 20 weeks. Please do me the favor of looking at it carefully.

Have you any doubt that it is a human being?

If you do not have any such doubt, have you any doubt that it is an innocent human being?

If you have no doubt about this either, have you any doubt that the authorities in a civilized society are duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if anyone were to wish to kill it?

If your answer to this last query is negative, that is, if you have no doubt that the authorities in a civilized society would be duty-bound to protect this innocent human being if someone were to wish to kill it, I would suggest—even insist—that there is not a lot more to be said about the issue of abortion in our society. It is wrong, and it cannot—must not—be tolerated.


But you might protest that all of this is too easy. Why, you might inquire, have I not delved into the opinion of philosophers and theologians about the matter? And even worse: Why have I not raised the usual questions about what a “human being” is, what a “person” is, what it means to be “living,” and such? People who write books and articles about abortion always concern themselves with these kinds of things. Even the justices of the Supreme Court who gave us “Roe v. Wade” address them. Why do I neglect philosophers and theologians? Why do I not get into defining “human being,” defining “person,” defining “living,” and the rest? Because, I respond, I am sound of mind and endowed with a fine set of eyes, into which I do not believe it is well to cast sand. I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who “chooses” to kill it. In brief: I looked, and I know what I saw.


But what about the being that has been in its mother for only 15 weeks or only 10? Have you photographs of that too? Yes, I do. However, I hardly think it necessary to show them. For if we agree that the being in the photograph printed on this page is an innocent human being, you have no choice but to admit that it may not be legitimately killed even before 20 weeks unless you can indicate with scientific proof the point in the development of the being before which it was other than an innocent human being and, therefore, available to be legitimately killed. Nor have Aristotle, Aquinas or even the most brilliant embryologists of our era or any other era been able to do so. If there is a time when something less than a human being in a mother morphs into a human being, it is not a time that anyone has ever been able to identify, though many have made guesses. However, guesses are of no help. A man with a shotgun who decides to shoot a being that he believes may be a human being is properly hauled before a judge. And hopefully, the judge in question knows what a “human being” is and what the implications of someone’s wishing to kill it are. The word “incarceration” comes to mind.


However, we must not stop here. The matter becomes even clearer and simpler if you obtain from the National Geographic Society two extraordinary DVDs. One is entitled “In the Womb” and illustrates in color and in motion the development of one innocent human being within its mother. The other is entitled “In the Womb—Multiples” and in color and motion shows the development of two innocent human beings—twin boys—within their mother. If you have ever allowed yourself to wonder, for example, what “living” means, these two DVDs will be a great help. The one innocent human being squirms about, waves its arms, sucks its thumb, smiles broadly and even yawns; and the two innocent human beings do all of that and more: They fight each other. One gives his brother a kick, and the other responds with a sock to the jaw. If you can convince yourself that these beings are something other than living and innocent human beings, something, for example, such as “mere clusters of tissues,” you have a problem far more basic than merely not appreciating the wrongness of abortion. And that problem is—forgive me—self-deceit in a most extreme form.

Adolf Hitler convinced himself and his subjects that Jews and homosexuals were other than human beings. Joseph Stalin did the same as regards Cossacks and Russian aristocrats. And this despite the fact that Hitler and his subjects had seen both Jews and homosexuals with their own eyes, and Stalin and his subjects had seen both Cossacks and Russian aristocrats with theirs. Happily, there are few today who would hesitate to condemn in the roundest terms the self-deceit of Hitler, Stalin or even their subjects to the extent that the subjects could have done something to end the madness and protect living, innocent human beings.


It is high time to stop pretending that we do not know what this nation of ours is allowing—and approving—with the killing each year of more than 1,600,000 innocent human beings within their mothers. We know full well that to kill what is clearly seen to be an innocent human being or what cannot be proved to be other than an innocent human being is as wrong as wrong gets. Nor can we honorably cover our shame (1) by appealing to the thoughts of Aristotle or Aquinas on the subject, inasmuch as we are all well aware that their understanding of matters embryological was hopelessly mistaken, (2) by suggesting that “killing” and “choosing to kill” are somehow distinct ethically, morally or criminally, (3) by feigning ignorance of the meaning of “human being,” “person,” “living,” and such, (4) by maintaining that among the acts covered by the right to privacy is the act of killing an innocent human being, and (5) by claiming that the being within the mother is “part” of the mother, so as to sustain the oft-repeated slogan that a mother may kill or authorize the killing of the being within her “because she is free to do as she wishes with her own body.”

One please God, when the stranglehold on public opinion in the United States has been released by the extremists for whom abortion is the center of their political and moral life, our nation will, in my judgment, look back on what we have been doing to innocent human beings within their mothers as a crime no less heinous than what was approved by the Supreme Court in the “Dred Scott Case” in the 19th century, and no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin in the 20th. There is nothing at all complicated about the utter wrongness of abortion, and making it all seem complicated mitigates that wrongness not at all. On the contrary, it intensifies it.

Do me a favor. Look at the photograph again. Look and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of “legalized” abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.