October is Respect Life Month for Catholics in the United States. Dioceses and parishes around the country will begin the celebration with Respect Life Sunday, which has been traditionally designated as the first Sunday of October each year. This monthly celebration calls our attention to the Church’s reaffirmation and recommitment to protect human life from conception to natural death.
To be good stewards of the gift of life obliges us to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed when it comes to preserving the sanctity of life. We have complex issues facing us today in the areas of health care, assisted suicide, care for the aging, the destruction of human embryos or harvesting stem cells, the death penalty, abortion and post-abortion concerns and reconciliation. To address these complexities, the message should be compassionate, yet compelling.
In his pastoral letter, Ecclesia in America (The Church in America), our late pontiff, Blessed John Paul II, wrote:
Nowadays, in America as elsewhere in the world, a model of society appears to be emerging in which the powerful predominate, setting aside and even eliminating the powerless: I am thinking here of unborn children, helpless victims of abortion; the elderly and incurably ill, subjected at times to euthanasia; and the many other people relegated to the margins of society by consumerism and materialism …This model of society bears the stamp of the ulture of death, and is therefore in opposition to the Gospel message. Faced with this distressing reality, the Church community intends to commit itself all the more to the defense of the culture of life.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues information packets each year to parishes to help them in their promotion and their commitment to be faithful to the Gospel of Life. The bishops encourage each parish to get involved in at least one activity during Respect Life Month so that parishioners can understand their role in being better stewards of the gift of human life.
What is most important for good stewards is to remain faithful to prayer and to renew this month a firm resolve to proclaim a culture of life and an end to the killing and degradation of human beings, especially those who are vulnerable due to their age, health or dependency, and to work to rid our culture of the notion that humans are simply part of a disposable society.
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