Heart of the new evangelization — Respect Life work

March 10, 2015

At the heart of the new evangelization in the Catholic Church, is Respect Life work — helping others understand Christ's fundamental message that all human life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death. It is God, and He alone, who gives life and only He may take life away.

Within the Archdiocese, the mission of its Respect Life Office, which is funded by the Diocesan Services Fund, is to assist Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in his evangelical task within the Archdiocese to help bring about a conversion of heart and mind for all to be open to God's special gift of life. In addition, the ministry helps educate others about the fundamental principles of the Catholic Church where the faithful are called to go forth and work for social justice and defend the life, dignity and rights of all people. It also reaches out to meet those suffering where they are and to bring them to God, particularly those who are separated from Christ and the Church as a result of life and death issues such as homicide, abortion, infanticide, suicide, euthanasia and end of life decisions, and help them understand about God's infinite love and mercy that is found through the Church, particularly in the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. 

"The dignity and value of the human person is always at the center of the Church's moral teaching, which focuses on life, justice and peace," said Dr. Marcella Colbert, director of the Archdiocese's Respect Life Office. "This is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. We are all Christ — in a very flawed form, but made in God's image and likeness, and it's our obligation to care for everyone in society, particularly those in our families and local communities."

Colbert said the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office has an integrated approach to educating Catholics in the Archdiocese about life and death issues. Through the development and teaching, in cooperation with the University of St. Thomas, a comprehensive curriculum is available in the moral teachings of the Church. Parish-based programs encourage solidarity, subsidiary, and collaborative ministry among parishioners. Respect for Life is for all people and all groups in the parish.

One ministry in the Respect Life Office that provides prayer and worship opportunities is The Helpers of God's Precious Infants. This is a group of people committed to maintaining a loving and prayerful presence and witness outside abortion sites. Volunteers come to the abortion site for an hour or more praying in a spirit of reparation for their own sins, the sin of abortion, for the abortionist and his staff, for the neighboring community, for the legislators, for the religious leaders of the nation and for all who do nothing to stop abortion.

Two ministries that provide pastoral care to women include the Gabriel Project and Project Rachel. The Gabriel Project helps women in crisis pregnancies by offering Christian love and practical solutions at the parish levels. Project Rachel is a confidential and compassionate outreach to women (and men) who have had an abortion or been involved in an abortion decision. 

Another important function of the Respect Life Office is to work to influence public policy and encourage legislative change in regard to life and death issues. Colbert said that in the Church, these respect life issues are constant and don't come and go like election years and officials.
"Because the Catholic view of social justice is a very complicated issue to fully understand, the Church has done many things to do help with influencing legislation," Colbert said. "Our staff and volunteers present the case to our local legislatures and committees so they are informed on the subject. Then we have to influence legislatures to pass just laws — laws that are compassionate and concerned with the whole person and not an abstract view of law and order."