USCCB Pro-Life Committee Issues Statement for Respect Life Sunday, October 7, 2007
By Meg Jalsevac
PHILADELPHIA, PA, Sept. 25, 2007 (www.LifeSiteNews.com) - As is the custom in the United States, the first Sunday of October will be honored by US Catholics as Respect Life Sunday. In honor of this, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States' Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued a statement to be made available at all parishes nationwide.
The statement calls for US Catholics to "again pray for - and renew their resolve to bring about - a culture of life and an end to the killing of innocent human beings, especially those who are vulnerable due to their age, size, health or dependency."
The theme of this year's Respect Life Sunday is 'The Infant in My Womb Leaped for Joy' and is taken from the Gospel of St. Luke (1:39-56) when the Blessed Mother, bearing Christ in her womb, is welcomed by St. Elizabeth, who was bearing St. John the Baptist.
Cardinal Rigali's statement explained the theme and purpose of this year's Respect Life Sunday. "There was no confusion as to what and who were nestled under their mothers' hearts. Yet 2,000 years later, many well-educated people do not know - or claim they do not know - the truth about human life before birth."
Rigali referred to the passage of the partial birth abortion ban and President Bush's veto of an embryonic stem-cell bill as positive happenings for the cause of life but warned that these victories are only partial as babies may still be legally killed in the womb and there are those who are still rallying to have the right to destroy human embryos in the name of research. He warned, "We will not see the day when all human life is respected and defended unless we address a deeper problem."
"Some ethicists suggest that patients who apparently lack conscious awareness - although otherwise healthy and not imminently dying - can be dehydrated and starved to death because their lives are not fully human but "vegetative." This ignores the insight expressed in 2004 by Pope John Paul II and recently reaffirmed by the Holy See under Pope Benedict XVI, that "the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life. A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal'." We need truth (emphasis in original)."
The pro-life statement concluded by asking people of all faiths to stand up for life. "This is no sectarian creed. The 'recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world' (Preamble, United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989). And that is the truth."
The American Catholic bishops first initiated Respect Life Sunday on the first Sunday of October in 1972. The entire month of October is nationally recognized by US Catholics as Respect Life Month and many dioceses and parishes encourage a vast range of devotions and pro-life activities to promote the Culture of Life.
The USCCB prepares and distributes an annual packet that is made available to individuals and parishes across the country made up of assorted pamphlets on various life issues. Many parishes participate in an annual Life Chain, which has been known to attract hundreds of thousands of pro-life participants across the world, who peacefully pray and stand in witness to the sanctity of human life from the very moment of conception.
Read the entire text of the Respect Life Sunday statement
Access all pamphlets released by the USCCB in the Respect Life packet