Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:
This weekend marks Respect Life Sunday as well as the beginning of the 2013/2014 Respect Life program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The theme for this year's program is a phrase from Pope Francis -- Open your hearts to life.
Now, perhaps more than ever, we must open our hearts to life and do all we can to promote a culture of life in our society. So many prevalent trends see life not as a gift in itself with an inherent value, but simply as a means of personal gratification. What Pope Francis describes as a “culture of waste” maximizes pleasure and minimizes inconvenience at all costs to the point of actually discarding the very gift of life itself when it is seen as a burden. The current culture is further eroded by a lack of understanding and appreciation for marriage and family life, the mounting threats to religious liberty and the impact of forty years of legalized abortion within our nation.
Indeed, we must open our hearts to life by appreciating more that God is at the center of life and that it is He alone who gives it meaning and joy. Opening our hearts to life means rejecting the taking of the lives of human beings from the moment of conception to natural death -- by abortifacient "contraceptives" and abortion, destructive embryo research and IVF procedures, by denying life-saving treatment for those with disabilities, and by hastening the death of the elderly and dying in assisted suicide and euthanasia. Opening our hearts to life means opposing the death penalty, as well as slavery, human trafficking, terrorism and unjust war. Opening our hearts to life means welcoming the immigrant and working to eradicate the conditions that prevent our brothers and sisters from realizing their full human potential.
As we celebrate Respect Life Sunday, let us open our hearts to life by opening our hearts more to God who has made us in His image and likeness. Through prayer and through the celebration of Mass and the Sacraments, we can know and love God more. With His help, we can be more aware of the needs of those around us and open our hearts to all human life. Let us continue to be steadfast in fostering a culture that respects the gift of life and rejects what is destructive of life at all stages. God created life to be joyful. True respect for life realizes that we must embrace life at every moment, especially in difficult times, and in so doing know the true joy which life brings.
Thanking you for your efforts on behalf of life and with every prayerful wish, I am
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gerald Barbarito
Bishop of Palm Beach
View events & prayer chains planned in the diocese for Respect Life Weekend