Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:
A significant occasion in the life of the Church begins this Sunday, October 5, as the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, convoked by Pope Francis, begins in Rome. This Sunday is also significant as it is Respect Life Sunday, called for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which begins the 2014/2015 Respect Life program. The theme for this year's program is a phrase from Pope Francis, Each of Us is a Masterpiece of God's Creation. In God's plan, life and the family are equal partners in the very essence of what creation is about. It is in the family that life comes into existence and is nurtured as the masterpiece of God's own hand.
We are all aware of the many challenges that face the gift of life as well as that of the family in our society today. A strengthening of the family enhances an appreciation for the gift of life and the loving nurturing which is its due. As we pray for the work of the Synod on the Family, we also pray for a greater appreciation for the gift of life at every stage from the moment of conception in the mother's womb until natural death. Appreciating the masterpiece of God's creation that is each person means rejecting everything that is destructive of life and is not nurturing of it. Abortion, destructive embryo research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty, domestic violence, human trafficking, terrorism, unjust war, lack of concern for the poor, the vulnerable, the homeless and the immigrant all mar God's masterpiece. Respect for life means working to enhance the conditions which enable all people to realize their full human potential.
Over the summer and at the present time we see in the media horrifying images from around the world of wounded and slain men, women, and children, due to the ravages of hatred and violence. Last month we commemorated the tragedy which occurred in our nation on 9/11 resulting from terrorism and a blatant lack of regard for life. We wonder how people can commit such atrocities against others and we realize that they occur because life is made inferior to another cause. As believers in Jesus Christ, we must continue to commit ourselves to a greater respect for life ever realizing that violence against a person takes many forms which disguise themselves as good. We must recommit ourselves to the family as the God-given place where life is formed, nurtured and loved.
As we celebrate this Respect Life Sunday as well as the beginning of the Synod on the Family, let us continue to join in prayer as God's family so that His masterpiece may be more appreciated and that we may find the fullness of life which only He brings.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
October 4/5, 2014