Respect life at every stage of development Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

In 1972, Respect Life Month was initiated by the American Catholic bishops. It is observed yearly during October in United States Catholic dioceses and stresses the value and dignity of human life.

October is dedicated to increasing a greater culture of life through public information, education, pastoral care, public policy, and prayer. New materials are produced yearly to help Catholics understand, value, and support the dignity of the human person and therefore the gift of every person's life.

Speaking for the unborn

During Respect Life Month, the Church emphasizes the right of the unborn to be born. Because the unborn cannot speak for themselves, the Church encourages us to speak for them.

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion in the Roe v. Wade decision. Justice Byron White, who dissented, stated, "The court apparently values the convenience of a pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life she carries."

The Church teaches that human life actually begins at conception. Whether they know it or not, those who abort don't respect the unborn male and female's right to be born.

Once I noticed a pro-choice sticker on a car that read: "Pro-choice: End Back Street Abortions. Protect Women's Right to Choose!" Above it was another sticker that read: "Choose Traditional Morality. Reject Family Abuse.'' The two messages seemed to contradict each other, because for almost 2,000 years, traditional Christian morality rejected abortion.

In no. 2271 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says, "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 willed either as an end or as a means to an end is gravely contrary to the moral law.'' Every major council to consider abortion has condemned abortion.

Young people are pro-life

In the summer issue of The Banner, a publication of Pro-life Wisconsin, Matt Von Rueden, development director, stated that the increasing number of committed young people to the pro-life movement gives him hope.

On April 6, he brought the pro-life club from Chesterton Academy of Milwaukee to the spring 40 Days for Life Vigil. A freshman girl remarked that she was glad to be actually doing something worthwhile for the pro-life movement instead of just talking about it.

She said that she joined the pro-life movement to fight for those who can't fight for themselves. Von Rueden added that the tide is turning against abortion. Young people, enlightened with the truth, are passionate to act upon it. In recent years, abortions have decreased, but there are still too many.

Broad spectrum of issues

In Living the Gospel of Life, the U.S. bishops state, "The Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues seeking to protect human life and promote human dignity from the inception of life to its final moment. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence, and injustice.

"Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care."

To be truly pro-life, we must begin with a commitment never to intentionally kill or be complicit in the killing of any innocent human life, no matter how broken, unformed, disabled, or desperate that life may seem. We Catholics should faithfully involve ourselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all areas.

Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of the issues the U.S. bishops listed in Living the Gospel of Life, as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. This includes respecting the environment.

I close with this prayer from Living the Gospel of Life: "Mary, patroness of America, renew in us a love for the beauty and sanctity of the human person from conception to natural death; and as your Son gave His life for us, help us to live our lives serving others. Mother of the Church, Mother of our Savior, open our hearts to the Gospel of life, protect our nation, and make us witnesses to the truth.''

Fr. Donald Lange is a pastor emeritus in the Diocese of Madison.