Promoting culture of life by welcoming, protecting the most vulnerable

      Each October we celebrate Respect Life month. We celebrate that you and I, and every other person ever conceived, were created by God in His own image and likeness. Every person is a unique and complex expression of our Divine Creator, who loved us into being with the cooperation of our parents. Thus, every person is worthy of respect.

      Every person who was ever conceived is loved for all eternity by God, the Father, and has been redeemed at the cost of His eternally beloved Son’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection. Through the mystery of the Incarnation and His life of self-giving love, leading all the way to the sacrifice of Calvary, Jesus reveals to us the inviolable dignity and value of human life. Jesus calls us to the same life-giving love, a love which compels us to treasure and actively defend the life of every human being.

      We have all been moved by the tenderness and compassion of Pope Francis for people in all circumstances of life, most especially for those who are physically impaired, who are sick, or who are incarcerated. How moved we were to see him kneel and wash the feet of young men and women, Catholics and non-Christians, on Holy Thursday. How beautiful his embrace of the elderly!

      Pope Francis has also spoken very powerfully about the gift of life. Exactly two months after his election as pope, Pope Francis addressed participants of the March for Life in Rome, “I greet the participants of the March for Life which took place this morning in Rome and invite everyone to stay focused on the important issue of respect for human life, from the moment of conception.” Pope Francis had personally joined the march himself in his popemobile, uniting himself with the dedicated marchers.

      On the occasion of the annual Day for Life in the United Kingdom, Pope Francis sent a message in which he said every person “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn, and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in His own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”

      In September last year, Pope Francis addressed Catholic physicians and characterized abortion as a product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the throw-away culture, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” Pope Francis continued:  “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before His birth, and then as soon as He was born, experienced the rejection of the world.”

      To those who participated in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this past January 22nd, Pope Francis sent these words by way of twitter:  “I join the March for Life in Washington with my prayers. May God help us respect all life, especially the most vulnerable.”

      Opening our hearts to life means rejecting the killing of human beings from the moment of conception to their natural death, whether by abortifacient, “contraceptives” and abortion, or denying life-saving treatment to those with disabilities, or hastening the death of the elderly through assisted suicide or euthanasia. Opening our hearts to life means opposing the death penalty, as well as slavery, human trafficking, terrorism, and unjust war. Opening our hearts to life means working to eradicate conditions that prevent our brothers and sisters from realizing their full human potential.

      We promote a culture of respect for life when we welcome all persons, when we resist the temptation to reject those who get in the way of our plans or make us feel insecure, when we exercise patience at the driver in front of us, or speak kindly to a colleague who is slow to learn new skills.

      We promote respect for life in our home when we give unconditional love, acceptance, affirmation, and consolation to one another, when we put the needs of others ahead of our plans, when we are patient and affirm an elderly parent with dementia.

      Through prayer we can know and love God more deeply. With His help, we can be more aware of the needs of those around us and open our hearts to all human life. The New Evangelization includes learning to live our Christian life fully and bringing Christ’s love, alive within us, to all we meet.

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