Why Do We Have A Respect Life Sunday?

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Why not? It is fitting and proper to respect life on a Respect Life Sunday and also to do so on every other day of the year. Since 1972, a year before abortion was legalized in our nation, the Church designated the first Sunday in October as Respect Life Sunday. So for some 40 years now, the Catholic Church has dedicated the month of October as a Respect Life Month by exhorting her flock to spend extra time in prayer, activism, and education to counter the lies and distortions promoted by the pro-abortion advocates.

How effective has this effort been for the past 40 years? You be the judge. Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand with their 1973 ruling in the case of Roe vs. Wade, 54 million human lives have been extinguished in our land. Abortions continue unabated on a daily basis. How often is this grave subject mentioned from our Church’s pulpits (including the Cathedral’s pulpit), how many of the clergy lead their parishioners in prayer and activism against this blight on our once blessed nation? How many Catholic public figures continue to persist in supporting this grave sin without receiving serious consequences from our bishops, clergy or their fellow Catholics? Remarkably, virtually all Catholic politicians who have promoted and supported abortion throughout the past 40 years do so with impunity and are in fact rewarded by being re-elected time and time again usually by receiving the support of the Catholic “voting bloc.” How do we reconcile what is going on in our country with the Church’s teaching on abortion?

The New Catholic Catechism (CC), paragraph 2270, tells us that “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.” This paragraph closes by quoting the following Scripture, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

In Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo’s Statement for Respect Life Month, issued on September 26, 2011, he states that Catholics “will join together to witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.” He urges Catholics to voice their “opposition to the injustice and cruelty of abortion on behalf of those victims whose voices have been silenced.” The Cardinal also reaches out to the mothers and fathers who have chosen to abort their child exhorting them to seek God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Church’s Project Rachel Ministry. Cardinal Di Nardo also notes that in today’s culture “contraceptives are promoted even to young teens as though they were essential to women’s well-being, and abortion defended as the “necessary” back up plan when contraceptives fail. And fail they do.”

The source of the sin of abortion seems to be multi-faceted; that is, having sexual relations outside the bonds of matrimony, using contraceptives within and outside the bonds of marriage to avoid pregnancy, and using abortion as a back-up plan when contraceptives fail. While our relativistic, self-indulgent, materialistic culture has lost its moral compass, our Church on an official level condemns the sins of fornication, contraception, and abortion. Unfortunately, there is virtual silence from the pulpits regarding any of these sins except perhaps abortion being mentioned once a year on Respect Life Sunday. For example, about a mile from my parish there is an abortion clinic operating six days a week, extinguishing human lives day after day and year after year. The silence and lack of activism from my parish – and I suspect virtually from all Catholic parishes within close proximity to abortion mills – allows our nation to passively accept this “silent (invisible) holocaust.”

It seems Catholic women have abortions at the second highest rate of the general population. “Women identifying themselves as Protestants obtain 37.4% of all abortions in the U.S.; Catholic women account for 31.3%, Jewish women account for 1.3%, and women with no religious affiliation obtain 23.7% of all abortions. 18% of all abortions are performed on women who identify themselves as Born-again/Evangelicals.” It seems 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons, i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient. (Source: AbortionNO). Similarly, among sexually active women, 68 percent of Catholic women use highly effective contraception, i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD as compared to 73 percent of mainline Protestants. (Source: Guttmacher Institute)

The Catholic Church on an officially high level as exemplified by Church encyclicals, pronouncements, and the Catholic Catechism proclaims it is unconditionally against such serious sins as fornication, contraception and abortion. However, it is somewhat logical to conclude based on the lack of action and complacency which we seem to be witnessing that there is at best some low-keyed lip service given concerning these evils which continue to permeate our ailing nation. The question arises whether our Church leaders and the rank and file Catholics really take these issues seriously. Again it would seem our Church is conforming to the prevailing immoral culture, “going with the flow” rather than taking the uncomfortable position of attempting to have our immoral culture conform to the teachings of the Church. Bottom line, as a Church we do not seem to practice what we officially preach. Collectively, we are all responsible for this situation. We fall far short from what the Lord would have us do.

Again when it comes to voting for political candidates, the Pope and some of our other bishops may teach and preach that Catholics should not vote for candidates who are in favor of abortion, euthanasia, homosexual marriages, in vitro fertilization, and embryonic stem cell research. These are five “non-negotiable” life issues and Catholics must seriously consider not voting for candidates who favor any of them. Rarely if ever are these issues brought up at all at the parish level. The result is that Catholics continue to vote for candidates who are openly in favor of these “non-negotiable” life issues, thus perpetuating the “silent (invisible) holocaust” plaguing our once blessed land.

P.S.: I pray for my family, especially for my grandchildren and all other peoples of good will that by the next Respect Life Sunday scheduled to take place in October 2012 that our Holy Catholic Roman Church becomes more pro-active and outspoken on behalf of the pro-life cause. A glimmer of hope is arising as more and younger people are beginning to participate in demonstrations for life in many places and we pray that their numbers steadily increase in the foreseeable future.

The quote, “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing,” is usually attributed to Edmund Burke, an 18th century philosopher. It indicates that evil must be confronted and challenged by the good folks, and if not, God help us. The Respect Life issue is the paramount issue of our times and the survival of our world truly hinges on whether it succeeds or not. Remember, time is running out for our land to repent of this evil. Our hope is in the promise of the Lord, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear them from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7 NIV) Pray for the conversion of our nation.