AUSTIN, Texas – In a speech at the state Capitol on Tuesday, Daniel Flores, the bishop of Brownsville, focused on the sanctity of life.

He said the inspection of facilities run by abortion providers need to be increased and parental consent needs to be strengthened when a minor is contemplating the termination of a pregnancy.

“There is no issue which is more significant to us as Catholics and as contributing members of our society than the importance of protecting the life of the unborn,” said Flores, at a rally entitled Faith in Action.

The rally was organized by the Texas Catholic Network and attracted more than 1,000 people from across Texas. Among those participating were many parishioners from the Diocese of Brownsville. They left on buses from Brownsville and San Juan in the early hours of the morning Tuesday. In addition to attending the rally, the parishioners visited the Capitol offices of state lawmakers to advocate for legislative issues adopted by the Texas Catholic Conference.

Daniel Flores, bishop of Brownsville, speaks at a Faith in Action rally at the state Capitol in Austin. (Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)
Daniel Flores, bishop of Brownsville, speaks at a Faith in Action rally at the state Capitol in Austin. (Photo: RGG/Steve Taylor)

A number of bishops spoke at the rally. Bishop Curtis J. Guillory of Beaumont spoke about the importance of expanding Medicaid. Bishop Plácido Rodríguez of Lubbock spoke about the importance of promoting school choice. Bishop Flores focused on the rights of the unborn.

In his speech, Flores said Catholics are constantly “called to witness” to the goodness of life from the moment of conception to natural death.

“We look at our society today not only here in the state of Texas but throughout the nation and many parts of the world and we see violence, violence against the elderly, sometimes violence by youths against youths, we see an increasingly violent world,” Flores said.

“And sometimes one can get the sense that many, many people in the society we live in are losing confidence in the goodness of life as a gift, as something to be cherished, as something to be encouraged, as something to be supported.”

Flores said it is vital that followers of Lord Jesus bear witness to the goodness of life, to believe in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and to believe that “God affirms that life is a great gift and in the end life always wins.” For this Flores won applause for the audience.

However, Flores said the belief that life always wins is coming under attack. “We know in our heart if the state and the city, the society, I should say, permits violence in the womb then we cannot be surprised if there is an outbreak of violence everywhere else in society,” he said, again to widespread applause. “That is why it is so important that our efforts in support of unborn children and the pro-life movement.”

Flores said government should be working to support the goodness of life from the moment of conception to natural death. “This includes, of course, working against violence, working against poverty, seeking to offer assistance to the poor, especially when it comes to the need for food or medical attention. But most fundamentally, the state should work in favor of supporting the bringing of life into the world as a sign of the goodness of life,” he said.

Flores said that during the current legislative session, support should be thrown behind Senate Bill 537 and House Bill 2816. Senate Bill 537 is authored by Sens. Robert Deuell, R-Greenville, Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, and Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown. House Bill 2816 is authored by Reps. Cindy Burkett, R-Sunnyvale, Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, Pat Fallon, R-Frisco, and Marsha Farney, R-Georgetown.

Flore said SB 537 and HB 2816 require that clinics now legally approved to provide abortion be inspected sufficiently well enough that they be held to the same standards as other medical institutions. He said this should be done for “the sake of the woman who makes a tragic decision and for the sake of the protection of life.” He said such clinics should not be allowed to “continue to traffic in this manner of procedure without being subject to strict regulation and accountability to the medical standards which we require of other institutions.” The audience applauded Flores for these remarks.

Flores said it is also important to support HB 3243, which is authored by Rep. William A. “Bill” Callegari, R-Katy, and Patricia F. Harless, R-Spring. He said this legislation would make parental consent “more effective” when a minor is contemplating terminating a pregnancy. “Strict judicial bypass laws to protect parental rights are essential to the current process. We must strengthen judicial bypass statutes to prevent easy access to court orders that undermine a parent or a guardian in their responsibility to exercise oversight and discretion because if these loopholes are not filled in then a young person who is confused and perhaps distraught may not have the chance to think about the decision that they make,” Flores said.

Flores concluded his speech by asking parishioners not to forget the importance of helping the most vulnerable throughout their time on this earth. “We are witness to the fact that we are connected to each other by virtue of sharing the same Father in Heaven,” he said.

Earlier in the day, state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, had introduced a resolution in the Senate honoring the Roman Catholic Bishops of Texas. Among those on the Senate floor to hear the resolution was Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.