Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

This week, the Virginia General Assembly continues to put forward bills with direct influence on promoting the culture of death in our Commonwealth. Again, I urge all of us to subscribe to the Virginia Catholic Conference Action Center to remain informed about all of the bills with direct consequences on what we hold dear as Catholics and to respond to our elected representatives to let our voices be heard. 

One of the several grave items of legislation proposed is one that will directly affect Christian adoption agencies, as it is meant to eliminate the conscious protection of religious organizations that they may not hold fast to their belief that children have a right to a mother and a father. If this legislation passes and the protection of faith-based adoption agencies to place children based on the understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman, these agencies will be forced to close, resulting in fewer parents available to be foster or adoptive parents and fewer children finding the love and protection they desire and need. To let our representative know of our opposition to this legislation, please respond here.

One battle that has already tragically been lost is the expansion of abortion coverage, legislation that passed today in the Virginia Senate. Our own Bishop Michael Burbidge and Bishop Barry Knestout, the Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, have prepared a statement expressing their extreme disappointment in passing this legislation. That it is passed on the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision makes it even more tragic, as it is seen as a promotion of the evil that was made legal by that monumental and misguided Supreme Court decision. Last night we gathered for a Holy Hour for Life to pray for the legal protection of children in the womb. May we continue to pray for an end to violence against the most vulnerable and voiceless among us.

Again, I urge you to subscribe to the Virginia Catholic Conference Action Center to remain informed and join your voice with Catholics throughout the Commonwealth to fight the culture of death in Virginia. For the past three weeks, I have made this request for the reason that it is a vital means of opposing evil and promoting good here in our state. I desire to make this newsletter more about parish issues, but also my desire that we act in faith on these legislative matters. In the future, I will turn more of my attention to the news of St. Andrew's Parish, but I urge you to remain informed and active for our sake and the sake of the residents of Virginia.

The March for Life last week announced that it would be a virtual event this year. While we will not be traveling downtown to march with tens of thousands of our fellow Americans, I encourage us to participate in the virtual March for Life to show our solidarity for the cause of the legal protection of children in the womb. The virtual March will be live-streamed at 11:00 AM on Friday, January 29, and will include speeches from pro-life leaders as well as other entertainment and information. Later in the day, the Annual Rose Dinner organized for the support of the March for Life will be live-streamed at 7:00 PM with speakers Tim Tebow Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson. Tickets to participate in this Rose Dinner livestream are $25. Please RSVP here to join these events

Also on Friday the 29th, there will be a Life Chain from 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM at St. Veronica Church in Chantilly. This will be a prayerful protest on the sidewalk on Centreville Road in front of St. Veronica’s. St. Veronica will have two events to follow: an 11:00 AM Holy Hour for Life in their church prior to their 12:15 PM Weekday Mass, and then a 1:00 PM Rosary for Life on Centreville Road after the Mass. More information can be found here. I encourage everyone interested to join these events at our neighboring parish.

You may have noticed that last week we put up posters promoting the 2021 Bishop's Lenten Appeal (BLA). This weekend, our sacristan Mark Sobczynski will speak after all of the Masses about the ministries that rely on the BLA to evangelize, provide formation, and bring assistance to men and women throughout our diocese. Mark is in formation for the permanent diaconate, and as this program is directly supported by the BLA, it is fitting he should speak on its behalf and I thank him in advance for his willingness to do so. 

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden was inaugurated in Washington. He is the second baptized Catholic to serve in this, the highest office of our nation. In response, Pope Francis offered a message to the new president, saying, "I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice." Archbishop José Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also released a statement in which he shared his optimism in working with the President on some priorities in which he shares a common interest with Catholics but also warned of his concerns about the legislation promoted by President Biden: "I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences."

Yesterday, on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the President issued a statement in which he said, "The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe. We are also committed to ensuring that we work to eliminate maternal and infant health disparities, increase access to contraception, and support families economically so that all parents can raise their families with dignity. This commitment extends to our critical work on health outcomes around the world." Harmfully and falsely equating abortion with healthcare, the President showed just how opposed his policies on this issue are with respect to the consistent teaching of the Catholic faith into which he is Baptized. The Pope and the Bishops are correct to preach that as a Catholic, he must strive for justice and protecting the dignity of the unborn. 

This is a reminder to all of us to pray for our leaders that they may seek to do the will of God in administering their duties to bring about peace and justice in the world. It is also a reminder to us that we must be Catholics first and foremost as citizens of this world. Archbishop Gomez, speaking about the U.S. Bishops but also portraying a truth that applies to all of us, said, "On some issues, we find ourselves more on the side of Democrats, while on others we find ourselves standing with Republicans. Our priorities are never partisan. We are Catholics first, seeking only to follow Jesus Christ faithfully and to advance his vision for human fraternity and community."

Let us pray that we may always live out our faith to the fullest, fighting every injustice and promoting every good according to the wisdom and love of God, and not according to any political agenda. In this is our salvation. In this is the salvation of our country.

As we pray for our leaders, let us pray for each other, that we may have the wisdom and courage to know and do God's will.

In Christ,
Fr. Wagner