The Respect Life Program begins anew each year on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday in October. The program is highlighted in liturgies and marked by special events. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities publishes a program packet each year to call attention to numerous human life issues. These materials are especially helpful for priests, parish groups and other organizations.
This year’s Respect Life Program takes us back to the basics. Eight pamphlets, listed below, discuss the main attacks on human life and dignity.
* Life Matters: Abortion: The reality that abortion kills innocent children, hurts women physically and emotionally, and harms men, families, and society demonstrates that the church’s opposition to abortion — based on the inherent dignity and equal value of every human life — is the only moral choice, even for nonbelievers.
* Life Matters: The Death Penalty: The death penalty no longer serves a useful purpose in protecting society, and it ends the offender’s opportunity for conversion, halting the action of the Holy Spirit on his soul for eternity.
* Life Matters: Persons with Disabilities: "Every human person — no matter how vulnerable or helpless, … no matter how healthy, handicapped or sick, no matter how useful or productive for society — is a being of inestimable worth created in the image and likeness of God" (Bl. Pope John Paul II).
* Life Matters: Reproductive Technologies: Children are the supreme gift of marriage. They have a right to be conceived through their parents’ act of love, not by a laboratory process that subjects them to quality control. While one in six couples has difficulty conceiving, today many causes of infertility can be corrected. But instead, fertility clinics often begin with expensive IVF procedures, which involve risks to the embryonic children created by IVF — the majority of whom end up dead — and to their biological mothers.
* Life Matters: Embryo Research: Destructive experimentation on human embryos violates the God-given right to life of very young human beings. It violates the Fifth Commandment, as well as the federal ban enacted by Congress every year since 1995, and the ethics rules of international organizations and U.S. agencies.
* Life Matters: Love and Marriage: The desire to love and be loved "happily ever after" by one special person is woven into our human nature. Marriage is that safe place where couples and their children can flourish. In contrast, sexual intimacy outside marriage is a cheap and ultimately harmful imitation of the faithful and permanent, love- and life-giving, communion of body, mind, and soul that God designed marriage to be.
* Life Matters: To the End of Our Days: The church has always proclaimed the inherent value and dignity of life at every stage and condition. And for over 2,000 years, physicians (whether nonbelievers or people of faith) have pledged to neither help nor encourage a patient to take his own life. But today, rising healthcare costs and a growing cultural blindness to the sanctity of life are driving the promotion of assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Life Matters: Contraception: From the standpoint of women’s health alone — putting aside all the important moral reasons why contraception is wrong — there are many serious reasons to reject contraception: increased access does not reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions. Instead, it increases rates of STDs. Hormonal contraceptives also put women at higher risk of potentially fatal blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and breast cancer.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information about the pamphlets and other information offered through the USCCB’s Respect Life Program, click here.