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Living the Gospel of Life

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

October 7, 2020

October, Respect Life Month, is an opportune time to assess how well we are living the Gospel of Life and giving witness to our faith, countering the many ways in which the dignity of human life is under attack today. The most egregious offense is the continuing tragedy of the aborting of innocent human life in the womb. The Church will never cease to decry the tragic story of the millions of aborted babies. The unconscionable “harvesting” and marketing of the body parts of aborted babies (“post abortion material”), reveals the extent of evil in abortions. Planned Parenthood and all those who turn a deaf ear to the silent scream of the unborn and are complicit in the abortion industry must be included in our prayers and challenged with the Gospel of Life.

A related example of the total disregard for the dignity of human life is so-called “mercy” killing or euthanasia (assisted suicide). Clearly, the culture of death is also fed through the prejudice and discrimination of racism. It is also evidenced in those hardened hearts that fail to respond to the pitiful plight of the forsaken refugee and migrant. The profiteers of pornography and human trafficking contribute to a lucrative industry that exploits and victimizes hundreds of thousands of individuals. Tragically, we know, too, that leaders of the Church have contributed to the culture of death. We ask forgiveness from and seek healing for those who have suffered sexual abuse.

Even as the mentality of the culture of death deadens society’s sensitivity to the dignity of every human life, we believe and celebrate that Christ is our hope in every season of life. As Pope Francis insists, our defense of human life and dignity must always be “clear, firm, and compassionate and extend to every person at every stage of development” (Gaudete et Exsultate,101). We don’t presume to determine who is worthy of dignity and respect and who is not.

As the Church observes Respect Life Month, we reflect on our role in building up the Gospel of Life. Many of our parishes sponsor efforts to feed and clothe those in need, especially evident during this pandemic. Elizabeth Ministry and the Gabriel Project respond to pregnant and new moms in need. Project Rachel offers alternatives to abortion. Efforts such as these reflect our attentiveness to those who don’t have the family or community of loving support that we might take for granted, be it financial, emotional or educational. On Mother’s Day, we invited our parishes to participate in Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service, a nation-wide effort to increase the Church’s outreach and support to pregnant women facing difficult or unexpected pregnancies.

As you know, Election Day draws near. Right now, forces beyond our control have determined the candidates. Loyalty to Jesus should never play second fiddle to a political party or other considerations. We have a moral obligation to learn about the candidates and their support of the culture of life. Clearly, all human rights are important, however, none is more important than the direct attack on innocent human life. The way we treat the most vulnerable among us reflects the civility our society.

At our last national meeting, the U.S. Bishops reaffirmed that “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” We do not dismiss, ignore, or minimize other serious threats to human life and dignity such as racism, the environmental crisis, poverty, and the death penalty. However, the Church will never tire of protecting the most fundamental of all human rights – the very right to live.

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