Archbishop Hebda ‘Confounded’ by ‘Abortion Providers Appreciation Day’

The city council of St. Paul, Minnesota voted 7-0 last week to declare March 10 “Abortion Providers Appreciation Day.”

Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota.
Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota. (photo: Shutterstock)

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul both celebrated March 10 as “Abortion Providers Appreciation Day.” Minnesota’s archbishop said he is “profoundly saddened” by those celebrations.

“I cannot help but be profoundly saddened and confounded that elected officials in both St. Paul and Minneapolis declared today ‘Abortion Provider Appreciation Day,’” Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

“Given that each human life is created in the image and likeness of God and has value, to honor those who purposefully end such life is an affront not only to our Creator but to the foundational values of civil society. There is no way around it – abortion kills children.”

The city council of St. Paul, Minnesota voted 7-0 last week to declare March 10 “Abortion Providers Appreciation Day.” The day was intended to recognize the March 10, 1993 killing of David Gunn, a Florida abortionist who was shot to death by 31-year-old Michael F. Griffin.

Griffin reportedly shouted “Don’t kill any more babies” just before he shot Gunn three times in the back.

Following St. Paul’s lead, Minneapolis’ Mayor Jacob Frey announced March 10 that his city too would celebrate “Abortion Provider Appreciation Day.”

After the St. Paul decision, the pro-life office of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis urged Catholics to send letters to city council members, to “show your disdain for this new day in Minnesota.”

“Be civil, but be direct and firm,” the office said in an email to Catholics March 9. “What they have done is unconscionable.”

The director of the state’s Catholic conference told CNA that Catholics need to get involved in politics at the local level.

“The day is an opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘How did we get to this point where we have elected officials who would do something so outrageous and divisive?’ Catholics have largely failed to engage politically at the local level, ceding the ground to others who often don’t share our viewpoint,” Jason Adkins, executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference, told CNA.

Adkins encouraged Catholics to make sure local leaders understand the work the Church does.

“Do our local elected officials hear from us? Are we telling our story, including telling them about the work of pregnancy resource centers in helping women in need? Those centers are doing great work, but if we are not in relationship with our elected officials and helping them work for human dignity and the common good, it’s easier for them to write people off for ideological reasons or engage in group think,” Adkins said.

“It’s why embracing a politics of encounter, as Pope Francis calls it, or the idea of civic friendship, is so necessary.  We can’t possibly expect good laws to be made if we don’t even know who represents us,” he added.

In 2017, there were 10,740 abortions in Minnesota, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 11 facilities in Minnesota performed abortions in 2017, 7 of which the Guttmacher Institute classified as clinics.

Adkins told CNA that Catholics should engage with civic officials respectfully in the face of issues like “Abortion Providers Appreciation Day.”

“We may not always agree with our elected officials, but we have no choice but to operate on the premise that for civic life to function, we must engage in respectful dialogue and conversation about what is good, rather than just sitting content with being reactive and outraged. We can light a candle or curse the darkness,” he said.

For his part, Archbishop Hebda said that the state’s Catholics are a source of encouragement to him.

“What gives me hope...are the countless women and men of goodwill who tirelessly give of themselves to accompany women in crisis pregnancies, love and assist moms and babies and work to create a culture of life in our communities and in our world. It is those people we should be honoring.”