This October, the Catholic Church throughout the United States will observe Respect Life Month. This annual tradition is now in its 41st year. Beginning October 7, Respect Life Sunday, our nation's Catholics will be called to renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family. They will demonstrate this commitment in a variety of ways—by participating in prayer services and educational conferences, engaging in public witness and advocacy, and helping to offer church and community services to those in need.
The theme of this year's Respect Life Program is one often expressed by Pope Benedict XVI: "Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty."
He reiterated this insight during his recent visit to Lebanon: "The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life. 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. … The grandeur and the raison d'être of each person are found in God alone. The unconditional acknowledgement of the dignity of every human being, of each one of us, and of the sacredness of human life, is linked to the responsibility which we all have before 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."
Every parish has received a USCCB packet with liturgical ideas and educational resources on timely social issues, including: abortion, contraception, the death penalty, persons with disabilities, embryo destructive research, end of life issues, reproductive technologies, and the meaning of human sexuality, family and marriage. Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program brings Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public. The program combines education, prayer, service and advocacy. Respect Life Sunday is observed in virtually every Catholic diocese in the United States. All resources will be available in English and Spanish and may be ordered or downloaded from: www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/index.shtml
. If your parish needs resources or assistance in planning an event or educational opportunity to celebrate the sacredness of human life during October, call the Office of Advocacy and Justice at 407-246-4819.