Advocacy on behalf of human life is “an essential dimension of the pro-life cause and the pro-life heart,” Bishop Salvatore R. Matano stated during the Diocese of Rochester’s Mass for Life, which took place Oct. 3 at a full Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester.
“The message of the Gospel is clear. It is not enough for us to be pro-life intellectually and politically,” Bishop Matano said. “We must embrace the Gospel of life in the very depth of our soul in such a way that it continually transforms us, bringing us to our knees in prayer and begging repentance for our own failures against human dignity, and pleading for God’s help to defend and to protect the inviolable human life at every stage.”
During Respect Life Month, Catholics are called to reflect upon the dignity of all human life. The staff of the diocesan Office of Life Issues encouraged this reflection by providing a number of resources after the Mass for Life. These resources offered information about everything from end-of-life decision making and healing for women who’ve had abortions to Catholic bio-ethics and the upcoming Mass of Healing for Miscarriage and Infant Loss, which will take place Oct. 17 at St. Jerome Church in East Rochester.
Showing respect and reverence for life means working to protect all who are vulnerable and have no one to speak on their behalf, including the unborn, those with physical and mental disabilities, those fleeing persecution in other lands and those sometimes viewed as burdens to society, Bishop Matano said during the Mass for Life.
“Our hearts are turned to the unborn, the elders and the very ill, the disabled and those traumatized by violence, persecution, unjust prejudices and economic disadvantages. These are our brothers and sisters made in the image and likeness of God,” he said.
To speak words of life which is sacred from the moment of conception until natural death can in our contemporary society invite scorn, bitterness and quite sadly, even hatred, Bishop Matano added. Many people expect political leaders to leave their faith at the doorstep while crossing over the threshold to public office, mistakenly citing the principle of separation of church and state, the bishop said. Political lleaders who do so, however, risk leaving behind the very voice of Jesus, telling us to love one another, Bishop Matano said.
“What is left behind is the moral fiber which holds society together! What is left behind are the very instruments and tools for creating a just and lasting peace! What is left behind is a moral compass showing us the way, the truth and the life! Yes, what is left behind is what is all noble, good and holy! What is left behind is the crucified Christ, who died for the salvation of all humanity,” he said.
The separation of church and state does not mean, however, that the political views of men and women must remain unaffected and uninformed by their religious beliefs, Bishop Matano said. The founding fathers of the United States recognized the right to life as one of the most fundamental of rights, and the Declaration of Independence concludes “with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” he added.
“We must be very mindful, my sisters and brothers, that prayer does move hearts, and today especially, we embrace in prayer and in our hearts those who have endured the pain of the termination of life in the womb,” Bishop Matano said. “We pray that all understand Jesus is forever merciful. He embraces us even in our darkest hours. He heals wounds, he reconciles, he restores and he uplifts. Those who have experienced this hurtful part of their lives must understand, Jesus is waiting to embrace you.”