Respect Life Month

We are still basking in the after-glow of the visit of Pope Francis, and his words continue to resonate with both Catholics and non-Catholics. Even though he refused to resort to the harsh tone and adversarial rhetoric of certain Catholic leaders, he insisted on upholding Church doctrine in all his speeches. He spoke directly to the US bishops as he addressed a variety of issues and problems. Discussing the Church’s position of life issues, he said:

The innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man's predatory relationship with nature -- at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters. It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent.

He continued the practice of previous popes who have strongly urged the faithful to embrace the seamless garment of life. As a result of the shocking revelations made public by the Planned Parenthood videos, our call to fight for the unborn takes on special urgency. We cannot remain silent bystanders.

Across the Catholic dioceses of the United States October is celebrated as Respect Life Month when we invite Catholics to reflect on their duty to nurture the Culture of Life. Even though we should look at life issues as a seamless garment, as Cardinal Bernardin suggested, every now and then we should focus our undivided attention on the moral question of abortion. Writing in a parish bulletin I am aware that I am preaching to the choir. Yet it is important to remind ourselves of this terrible scourge that ravages most of the so-called civilized world. We need to inculcate in our young people a strong abhorrence for abortion.

Underneath the unchanging teaching of the Church on the subject lies the unshakeable belief that every human life comes from the hand of God and as such, it is precious and non-disposable. Only God gives life and only He can take it away. It is pure semantics that leads people to say that the human embryo is just a mass of cells. No woman has ever given birth to anything but a human being – perhaps not as perfect as we would like it to be, nonetheless a human person. This human being must always be treated as an end and never as a means to some other end. This basic conviction is founded upon God’s words to Prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jer 1:5)

Let me give you a quick summary of the Church’s teaching on abortion. I am quoting here directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” (#2270)
  • “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…” (#2271)
  • “Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.” (#2272)
  • The Church attaches the strictest penalty to this crime against human life because she wants everyone to recognize “the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death…” (#2272)

I invite all our parishioners to reflect seriously on the tens of millions of innocent lives that have been done away with since Roe v Wade in 1973. The blood of these helpless children cry out to God. Our society cannot ignore their voices. As our nation moves towards another election in November 2016, we must give serious consideration to this issue. Our voting choices must not overlook or minimize the gravity of this moral question. 

Our Respect Life Committee is seeking new members to revitalize our efforts to cultivate greater sensitivity to life issues in the parish at large and in our young people in particular. I was personally touched by the words of John Morales, the director and producer of the movie, 40, during its screening last Sunday. I am appalled that such atrocities against the innocent are committed daily and the vast majority of our fellow countrymen seem either ignorant or apathetic. We need to pray for our country.

Let us pray the God of Life to change the hearts of our nation so that we will protect helpless unborn babies. Without the fundamental right to live, all other rights become irrelevant.

Mission Statement: As children of God, living in a Catholic community of faith, we are united by the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Aware that all we have is gift and grace from our Heavenly Father, we strive to give of our time, talent and treasure to build His kingdom on earth. We live this mission, challenged by the Word, nurtured by the Sacraments, and enlivened by the Spirit, to serve our brothers and sisters in peace, justice and dignity. All are welcome on this journey.

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St. Paul of the Cross

320 South Washington Street
Park Ridge, IL 60068

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