Catholic Courier

Posted: October 3, 2016

Mercy moves us to have respect for life

By Suzanne Stack

"When we let our hearts be moved by God's mercy, it shapes everything," said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York in his statement launching the yearlong "Respect Life Program: Moved by Mercy." Cardinal Dolan is the chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The full text of Cardinal Dolan's statement is available along with many other resources at www.usccb.org/respectlife.

As we finish out this Year of Mercy, it’s so appropriate to consider being "moved by mercy" in a variety of concerns involving the consistent life ethic. As Cardinal Dolan said in his statement, "From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection." This Moved by Mercy theme begins with Respect Life Month in October and continues throughout the year. This year's program offers new prayers, toolkits for social media, and other resources for parish bulletins, social ministry, religious education, RCIA, marriage prep and Catholic high schools.

"Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the margins of society by a 'throwaway culture,' expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, and every other person -- each 'has a place in God's heart from all eternity,'" Cardinal Dolan said, citing Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love").

Cardinal Dolan is referring to the six articles in this year’s Respect Life Program, which address each of these situations. The articles address the tragedy of assisted suicide, navigating infertility, facilitating healing after abortion, end-of-life care, attentiveness to God's creation and supporting birth mothers.

Project Rachel has been facilitating healing after abortion in the Diocese of Rochester for 20 years now, thanks in large part to Father Jim Hewes, who passionately led this ministry for 18 years. It’s a joy to work with the dedicated and growing members of the Project Rachel team to help women and men, regardless of their religious affiliation, find the peace available to them through the gift of mercy. We are beyond blessed to be developing a new model of ministry with the help of Lorraine and John White. They heard about Project Rachel on Catholic radio and were moved to get involved. Lorraine, along with her husband, is bringing her marketing expertise to help us expand our outreach tremendously so we can reach many more women and men in need of God’s mercy. You can see the beginnings of this creative approach in the Project Rachel ad in this issue of the Catholic Courier that Linda Rivers, the newspaper's graphic artist, created in consultation with Lorraine. To explore ways to be a part of this rewarding ministry, e-mail Project Rachel Coordinator Dave Snyder at dsnyder@dor.org. You also may call me at 585-328-3210, ext. 1304.

To explore the help available through Project Rachel here in the Diocese of Rochester, call 1-888-9-RACHEL (1-888-972-2435) or e-mail return2peace@rachelroc.org. You also may visit the national website at www.hopeafterabortion.org.

Two other Respect Life Program articles address a major concern here in New York state. A bill has been introduced in the state Legislature to legalize physician-assisted suicide, which would fail to protect those at the vulnerable ends of their earthly lives. The outcome of the election on Nov. 8, when all state legislative seats are up for a vote, could well determine if this bill will be passed. Please exercise faithful citizenship, as our bishops exhort us to do, and be sure to become informed to vote in this election. Your vote matters!

Stack is life-issues coordinator for the Diocese of Rochester.