Holy Father Urges Participation in Pro-Life Vigil

US Bishops Mark Respect Life Month

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is calling on all Catholics to join in a Vigil for All Nascent Human Life, to be celebrated in local parishes and dioceses Nov. 27.

The Pope will celebrate the vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, and is requesting «all diocesan bishops (and their equivalent) of every particular church preside in analogous celebrations involving the faithful in their respective parishes, religious communities, associations and movements,» a communiqué from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reported.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Family collaborated in creating an outline for the vigil, and the U.S. bishops’ conference is developing resources for the parishes.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Texas, chairman of the episcopal conference’s pro-life committee, highlighted the «unprecedented» nature of this request from the Pontiff.

In a statement written for Respect Life Month, which begins Friday, the prelate said, «I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer.» (In the United States this year, the First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.)

He noted that the purpose «according to the Holy See is to ‘thank the Lord for his total self-giving to the world and for his Incarnation which gave every human life its real worth and dignity,’ and to ‘invoke the Lord’s protection over every human being called into existence.'»

The statement also provided a reflection on the theme of this Respect Life Month, which is: «The Measure of Love Is to Love Without Measure.»

«With over 1 million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture,» Cardinal DiNardo stated.

Widening rift

He observed that «in many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government.»

The prelate explained: «For example, Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins, with 67% opposing federal funding of abortion in health care in one recent poll. 

«In early 2009, Catholics and others sent over 33 million postcards, and countless e-mails and letters to members of Congress, urging them to ‘retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.’

«Yet in March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums.»

«Defenseless human life is also placed at risk today in the name of science, when researchers seek to destroy human life at its embryonic stage for stem cell research — and demand the use of all Americans’ tax dollars to support this agenda,» the cardinal stated.

He noted that «in a recent poll commissioned by the Catholic bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 57% of respondents favored funding only stem cell research avenues that do not harm the donor, using stem cells from cord blood, placentas, and other ‘adult’ tissues.»

«Only 21% favor funding all stem cell research, including research that requires killing embryonic human beings,» the prelate added.

«Yet the current administration issued guidelines last year to fund human embryonic stem cell research, and some in Congress are preparing legislation to ensure continued funding despite a federal court’s finding that these guidelines may violate the law,» he warned.

Cardinal DiNardo affirmed, «Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that ‘The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.'»

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On the Net:

Vigil information: www.usccb.org/prolife/papalvigil/

Respect Life Month statement: www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/10dinardo-stmt.pdf

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