In his inaugural Mass, Pope Benedict XVI reminded us: “We are not some casual or meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” These thoughts sum up the reasons why for 34 years the U.S. Bishops have commemorated the first Sunday of October as Respect Life Sunday. We live in a culture increasingly under the sway of an utilitarian ethic in which people are not valued for who they are but rather for what their have. As Catholics, we must recommit ourselves with others of good will to build a world where human life is always loved and defended, a world in which every form of violence is banished.
More than 33 years of the legal, “elective” abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy has coarsen American culture to such an extent that we are oblivious to the American holocaust of some 40 million children killed in their mothers wombs. And because we have tolerated this, we as a culture have already slid down the proverbial slippery slope. We see this in the easy acceptance by many of allowing scientists to create human embryos in vitro only to destroy to so as to use their cells for experimentation. We see this in a federal appeals court which ruled in favor of a “right” to assisted suicide and in those who would (and have approved) of causing helpless individuals to die by withholding food and water from them.
Early next month, the Supreme Court will take up again the issue of partial birth abortion by which a doctor kills a full term baby. Six years ago, the Court invoked its Roe v. Wade decision to strike down state laws enacted against this gruesome practice that is never medically called for. But the justices have agreed to take a second look. The U.S. Bishops through its Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities have initiated the ‘Second Look Project”. This campaign will help remind the public and our elected officials how much is at stake.
Beginning last Monday, October 2, when the Court opened its new term, the Second Look Project sends a fact or quote on partial-birth abortion each weekday to Congress, news media, and opinion leaders, ending November 8 when oral arguments are scheduled The Second Look Project helps people make informed decisions based on fact rather than emotion. While abortion has been legal in the U.S. for three decades, polls continue to show that many people do not have very basic information about abortion, such as when during pregnancy it is legal, or why it is generally performed. For more information on the Second Look Project, visit www.secondlookproject.org.
And while October is Respect Life Month it is also the month in which the Church honors the pious practice of the recitation of the Holy Rosary. I would urge us all to rediscover this devotion which has helped so many generations of Catholics to grow in holiness. This month, a prayerful recitation of the rosary – either individually or in family – can help us to reflect upon and deepen our appreciation for God’s most precious gift to each one of us, the gift of life. In meditating on the mysteries of Rosary, which have been described as the “gospel in summary” we are reminded of why all human life is precious: “Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”