National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Speakers Address Attacks on Human Dignity
Ongoing attacks against human dignity were the focus of this year’s event, from Ukraine to U.S. schools and the unborn in the womb.
Ongoing attacks against human dignity were the focus of this year’s National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, which took place in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning.
Addressing an audience of more than 1,000 people, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archbishop Borys Gudziak brought attention to the human toll of the continuing war in Ukraine.
“What is the worth of our dignity?” Archbishop Gudziak asked during his keynote address. “Ukrainians are sacrificing their lives for the land, justice, truth and dignity that God gives us.”
“In the 21st century … when truth is transactional, when media, politics, diplomacy and popular culture are by a post-truth anti-ethic,” Archbishop Gudziak said, “Ukrainians have been saying, ‘No, not so fast. There is good and there is evil. There is truth and there are lies.’ And they are doing it at the risk of their own lives.”
In a moving moment, Archbishop Gudziak brought up to the stage a Ukrainian father whose son was killed while fighting against the Russian invasion in the Ukrainian armed forces.
“Last June his son … gave his life for human dignity,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “Like the Heavenly Father, he blessed his son on a mission that led to the sacrifice of his life.”
Archbishop Gudziak thanked the American Church for its support and asked for continued prayers as Ukraine fights Russian aggression.
Speakers at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast also addressed violations of human dignity occurring within the United States.
Catholic bioethicist Carter Snead, director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, spoke about the continued threat of abortion to the unborn and mothers.
Snead called for a compassionate Catholic response to attacks against human dignity through abortion, especially now in a post-Roe v. Wade world.
Abortion, Snead said, divides the world into “persons who bear human rights and nonpersons who live on the sufferance of others based on their interests and desires; and in doing so, isolating the woman in her moment of need and absolving us of our obligation to care for her and her child. ‘Her body, her choice, her problem.’”
“We are made for love and friendship,” Snead said. “We as Catholics are specially equipped and called upon and have a special obligation to build a culture of life and a civilization of love.”
“[Catholics must] respond with love — radical, unconditional, self-emptying love,” Snead added. “Love of neighbor; love of mothers, fathers and their babies; love of our enemies … locking arms to care for moms and babies and families, seeking to put women and children and families first as we rise to build a culture of life and civilization of love in a post-Roe world.”
Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, accepted the 2023 Christifideles Laici Award honoring the work of the laity. She is the co-founder and director of the Person and Identity Project. In her speech, Hasson brought attention to the increasing gender-ideology indoctrination in public schools, yet another form of attack against human dignity facing children outside the womb.
According to Hassan, 80% of Catholic children attending non-Catholic schools are inundated by an “LGBTQ+” ideology that is both antithetical to Catholic teaching and human dignity.
“It’s impossible for 40 hours a year of religious education to overcome 1,200 hours of being saturated in an anthropology that is false, that renders [children’s] hearts and minds inhospitable to the Gospel,” Hassan said. “Drawn in by this false anthropology, burdened with a false freedom to have to create themselves, young people don’t know who they are.”
“But there’s hope. Our hope is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This moment, where gender ideology is flooding our culture is a tremendous opportunity,” Hassan added. “Young people are seeking meaning; they want to know who they are. And we have an answer to give them: ‘You are a son or daughter of the Lord. You are loved incredibly. God has a plan for your life.’”
Since 2004, the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast has gathered politicians and Catholic leaders from across the country for a morning of prayer and fellowship.
Other key leaders in attendance this morning included Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Nebraska; former U.S. Attorney General William Barr; and the apostolic nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre. The event was broadcast live on EWTN.