In a new statement marking Respect Life Month, October 2012, the head of the pro-life outreach for the Catholic bishops says Catholics should “renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, , chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed various threats to human life and the need to apply principles of faith and morals in the public square.
“By our unflinching defense of human life and religious freedom, by our witness to the transcendent nature of the human person, and by our compassionate service to our brothers and sisters in need, may we spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “Only a love that seeks to serve those most in need, whatever the personal cost to us, is strong enough to overcome a culture of death and build a civilization worthy of human beings made in God’s image.”
The Respect Life Program’s theme for 2012-13 is: “Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty.” As Pope Benedict XVI said during his recent apostolic visit to Lebanon, “The grandeur and the raison d’être of each person are found in God alone.”
Cardinal DiNardo highlighted the importance of the 2012-13 Respect Life Program during the Year of Faith called for by Pope Benedict and quoted the pope in Lebanon: “If we want peace, let us defend life! This approach leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. … We must combine our efforts, then, to develop a sound vision of…the human person. Without this, it is impossible to build true peace.”
“These links among faith, the inherent dignity and rights of human beings, and a just and peaceful society were also understood by America’s Founding Fathers,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “How can people coexist, much less flourish, in a society lacking the shared belief that we are called to care for those unable to care for themselves, not to neglect, abuse or kill them? Such basic moral principles have served civilization well for millennia. Yet in recent decades, many people who influence public policy have promoted various exceptions to these principles.”
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Cardinal DiNardo cited several issues, including the staggering loss of life and consequent need for healing after involvement in abortion, the death of “extra” embryos and the “selective reduction” of children in utero during fertility procedures, continued promotion of embryo-destructive stem cell research, and euthanasia of the young and old alike. He also cited the erosion of family and community bonds in the four decades since Roe v. Wade and the more recent erosion of respect for conscience rights, especially under the HHS mandate requiring even Catholic individuals and institutions to purchase insurance coverage for morally objectionable drugs and procedures.
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. The full statement and Respect Life Program resources may be found online in English and Spanish at www.usccb.org/respectlife.