WASHINGTON— Catholics should “renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston in a statement marking Respect Life Month, October 2012. Cardinal DiNardo, 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.
The Respect Life Program’s theme for 2012-13 is: “Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty.”
“We will voice our opposition to the injustice and cruelty of abortion on behalf of those victims whose voices have been silenced,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “At the same time, we will remind the living victims of abortion—the mothers and fathers who grieve the loss of an irreplaceable child—that God’s mercy is greater than any human sin, and that healing and peace can be theirs through the sacrament of reconciliation and the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry.”
“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.”
He went on to observe that, “Viewing life as a ‘zero sum’ game, in which advancing one’s interests requires putting aside the needs of others, can lead to callous unconcern for anyone who is especially weak, defenseless, and in need of our help.” Cardinal DiNardo said, “The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a ‘burden’ on our medical system, the allegedly ‘excess’ embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live—each today is at risk of being dismissed as a ‘life unworthy of life.’”
Cardinal DiNardo said “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.”
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 Health and Human Services 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.