n a statement to mark Respect Life Month, October 2014, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, called for “community and solidarity” as an antidote to threats against life. Cardinal O’Malley chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The Cardinal’s statement launches this year’s Respect Life Program, with the theme, “Each of Us Is a Masterpiece of God’s Creation.” This year’s theme echoes Pope Francis’ message during his 2013 Day for Life greeting. “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,” Pope Francis said.
“We want to be part of a society that makes affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast,” Cardinal O’Malley said in his statement. “Yet to women faced with an unexpected pregnancy, abortion is often presented as their only ‘choice.’ A large percentage of children pre-diagnosed as having Down syndrome are never given the chance to live outside their mothers’ wombs. Elderly members of our families fear they will become burdensome and seek physician-assisted suicide. We see these and many more of our brothers and sisters pushed to the periphery.”
Cardinal O’Malley called for “community and solidarity” as an antidote to the individualism behind these and other such threats. “We must ask the Lord for the grace to see ourselves and others as he sees us—as masterpieces of his creation,” he said.
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in Catholic dioceses throughout the United States. In addition to new prayers and other resources, the 2014-15 Respect Life Program features six articles highlighting the respect due to each person as a “masterpiece of God’s creation.” A variety of topics is treated: adoption, miscarriage, healing within marriage after an abortion, advance medical directives, the treatment of children as commodities, and the connection between poverty and abortion.
The full statement is available in English and Spanish along with many other program resources at www.usccb.org/respectlife. A short video featuring Pope Francis’ warm gestures to the “weakest and most vulnerable” is on YouTube: http://youtu.be/h62l-4OddI0?list=PLpTzvCOJa7DBsXu19BJ8EbwTF5Xi7Vyt7