We Catholics are pretty much aware that October is Respect Life Month. The Catholic Church is rock solid in its pro-Life doctrine which is consistent with the gospel mandate to respect every human being – both born and unborn. We have heard bishops, priests, deacons and lay leaders preaching vigorously about the sanctity of life and the evil of abortion. So many Catholics, together with other Christians of different denominations, have been witnessing to and promoting the same truth. Every Pope has spoken out clearly in defense of the unborn, including Pope Francis who has repeated: “Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”
The National Life Chain is a very visible way of witnessing to the truth of our pro-life stand as people of all ages and denominations. Last weekend, Msgr. Brennan and myself had announced that the National Life Chain in Somerset County will be held today (Sunday) in Somerville, along Somerset St. and Mountain Ave., from 2 to 3:30 pm. Msgr. Brennan added that the location is right in front of Immaculate Conception Church.
The Pro-Life ministry of our parish is actively promoting awareness of the sanctity of life at all stages. They are speaking at every Mass this weekend about one of their projects to distribute baby feet magnets as part of the NJ Pro-Life movement’s Project 20-20. Our parish has been blessed last year when the Diocese of Metuchen chose two of our parishioners as the Diocesan recipients of the prestigious ‘Pro Vitae’ Award: Fran Johnson and Frank McMann. Their involvement was detailed both in the Catholic Spirit and in our parish bulletin. Fran and Frank will be thrilled to have you join this ministry. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And yet, why do some not appreciate the Pro-Life movement? Why do some Catholics seem to ignore the Pro-Life issues that are so central to Catholic faith? The answer can be found, as pointed out by Pope Francis, in the mistake of limiting the pro-Life movement to just one issue of abortion, relegating or even ignoring other life issues. Pope Francis continues to proclaim the consistent teaching of the church that “a pro-life stance cannot be only concerned with life before birth. Our defense of the innocent unborn…needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged.” He clarified further: “Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as ‘unnecessary.’ For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day; children being used as soldiers, abused and killed in armed conflicts; and children being bought and sold in that terrible form of modern slavery which is human trafficking, which is a crime against humanity.”
So how do we keep October as the Respect Life month? By going beyond the narrow vision of promoting life, by listening to our Pope who strongly opposes abortion, but has also elevated what he calls an “economy of exclusion and inequality that kills,” the death penalty, care for the elderly, the treatment of immigrants, etc., as central pro-life concerns. Yes, we are truly a pro-life Catholic Community.
Your brother in Christ
Fr. Abraham Orapankal