You’ve heard the criticism, haven’t you? Pro-abortion protestors insisting that people who oppose abortion don’t care about the women, don’t care about whether the children already born have food to eat and a place to sleep?
It’s an unfair charge; and this year’s theme for Respect Life Month (“Faith Opens Our Eyes to Human Life in All its Grandeur and Beauty”) exposes the fallacy, and celebrates the dignity of all human life.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement released September 25 called on all Catholics to “renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family.” He continued:
“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. 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.”
Recalling Pope Benedict’s recent trip to Lebanon, Cardinal DiNardo quoted from the pope’s remarks to the people of that nation:
“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.”
Cardinal DiNardo recalled the commitment of our Founding Fathers to create a just and peaceful society in which the inherent dignity and rights of human beings are respected, and warned that the principles which make our nation great have not been consistently applied by some contemporary leaders.
“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.”
He cited 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, the continued promotion of embryo-destructive stem cell research, and euthanasia of the young and old alike, as examples of ways that our society has strayed from its founding principles. The Cardinal worried, too, about the erosion of family and community bonds since Roe v. Wade’s passage in 1973, and about the erosion of respect for conscience rights under the Obama Administration, especially under the HHS mandate requiring even Catholic individuals and institutions to purchase insurance coverage for morally objectionable drugs and procedures.
The 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States will celebrate Respect Life Month in October—challenging our society, especially our lawmakers, to defend human life in all its stages. Respect Life Program resources, along with Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement, may be found online in English and Spanish at www.usccb.org/respectlife.