A Shepherd's Message - Sept. 24, 2013

September 24, 2013

The month of October each year is observed as Respect Life Month by the Catholic Church in the United States, and Sunday, October 6, is Respect Life Sunday. We dedicate these times to a renewal of our own thinking and acting, and a renewal of a revivified memory of the meaning and beauty of the human person.

Each person is a singularity made in the image and likeness of God. No government endows persons with respect and dignity: persons are conceived and born with it. All other institutions, governments and peoples acknowledge the right to life; they do not create it. It is that simple, that profound.

Our memories need to be revivified because the beginnings of human life have been violated in our country for more than forty years since the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Dalton decisions of the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. These decisions put abortion on demand as the law of the land. Individual states have been able to carve some adjustments, but these laws in all their horror remain today. The decisions act as an affront to the protection and care for human life that marked our beginnings as a nation. They continue to define the majority of our people when they intuitively think of the common good and the support we owe to the most vulnerable. Our memories can become vague and we can be lulled into complacency.

The Catholic Bishops of the United States and the pro-life majority adamantly insist on the protection of persons at the vulnerable and delicate stages of the beginning and end of human life. We cannot, and will not, cease our efforts at all levels to return a sense of justice to our culture, in prayer, in action and advocacy. Additionally, our efforts to intervene at the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government cannot end. We must re-saturate the culture with pro-life professionals and non-professionals, with pro-life artists and teachers, with pro-life young and old, people at all levels – so that the beauty of the human life and the human person is reawakened among the slumbering.

The timing and the opportunity to renew our memories and act decisively is particularly urgent now. The past few years have seen a trickling increment of judicial actions and government decisions against religious liberty and moral conscience. For example, under the guise of health care, the federal government has utilized directives to narrow the meaning of religiously exempt institutions and religious non-profits that are able to claim conscience exemptions to certain health services like abortion and sterilizations. The government has completely obliterated exemptions for for-profit institutions and businesses. This coercion is to be reinforced by penalties and sanctions, the trickle upon trickle of endless pages of directives that eventually will be a flood of much greater magnitude stifling or ending religious and conscience liberty.

God needs no opportunities, but we do! This is a time to let the Holy Spirit remind us anew of the meaning and worth of the human person, of the public square and of our place as pro-life people in it! We must be civil, but clear, and as relentless as our foes and some members of our government are against us. Some members of the household of the faith seem like zombies, tranquilized, unable to see or act with conviction in regards to the value of the human person. We need to pray….and to act….NOW.

May we all have a blessed Respect Life Month this year.