Attacks on Life Are Many and Grave, But Cardinal Points to Reasons for Hope

US Bishops Prepare Faithful for Respect Life Month

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WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 27, 2012 ( The chairman of the US bishops’ pro-life committee says there are reasons for hope as the Church in this country prepares to kick off Respect Life Month, even though the list of attacks on life is long and serious.

In a statement for Respect Life Sunday (Oct. 7) and Respect Life Month, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Houston, noted that Catholics in these weeks will «be called to renew their personal commitment to defend all human life, especially the most vulnerable members of the human family.»

The theme of this year’s Respect Life Program is one expressed by Benedict XVI: «Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty.» 

Noting an affirmation made by the Pope in Lebanon, the cardinal stated that the effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life. «If we want peace, let us defend life,» he said. «This approach leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God.»

Cardinal DiNardo spoke of the danger to a society that does not believe those who are unable to care for themselves should be cared for by others.

«Such basic moral principles have served civilization well for millennia,» he said. «Yet in recent decades, many people who influence public policy have promoted various exceptions to these principles.»

In this line, he spoke of how those with disabilities or diseases have come to be seen as a burden, such that early induction and late-term abortion for «fetal anomalies,» and doctor-assisted death by overdose for the sick and elderly, are not only state-approved but even publicly funded in some states.

Cardinal DiNardo also noted the grave consequences of in vitro fertilization: «Many fertility procedures used to help couples take home a baby result in many dead human embryos for each one who is born. When ‘excess’ babies successfully implant and develop in a mother’s or surrogate’s womb, fertility specialists often propose ‘selective reduction,’ inducing a heart attack in each ‘excess’ child. The National Institutes of Health still funds human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research, which involves killing human embryos to harvest their stem cells, despite the remarkable track record of adult and cord blood stem cells in helping patients with some 72 diseases and the lack of similar results from hESCs.»


The US bishops’ official also decried the growing threats to the consciences of health care providers who oppose such procedures.

«[N]ow many government officials believe that maximum access to the full range of «reproductive rights»—abortion, sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacient drugs—trumps the right of believers to live and act according to their faith,» he observed. «Under the ‘preventive services’ mandate of the Affordable Care Act, Catholic employers and most Catholic institutions offering health coverage to their employees, will be forced to cover all these objectionable items. Under the Administration’s rule, even individuals who work for these Catholic institutions will have no right to reject such coverage for themselves or their minor children.»

The Houston prelate wondered if anyone could claim that the United States is «better off now because of Roe v. Wade than it was 40 years ago? The close bonds, commitments and sacrifices for others, once modeled in families and carried into neighborhoods, civic organizations and communities, have gradually eroded.»

But, he said, there are also reasons for hope. He noted that polls show Americans are increasingly pro-life, that states have passed a multitude of pro-life laws, and that youth of the John Paul II generation are actively involved in promoting the civilization of life.

«During October, and throughout the Year of Faith announced by Pope Benedict XVI and set to begin on October 11, Catholics are invited to gain a deeper understanding of the teachings of our faith,» the cardinal concluded. «For our part, we need to live out these teachings more faithfully, witness them more radiantly in our actions, and propose them to others in fresh and engaging ways.

«By our unflinching defense of human life and religious freedom, by our witness to the transcendent nature of the human person, and by our compassionate service to our brothers and sisters in need, may we spark a renewal of love and commitment to the true good of others.»

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