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The Florida Catholic

Diocese marks 50th Respect Life Sunday

DELRAY BEACH  |  Wet weather impacted the annual Steps for Life fundraiser for Birthline/Lifeline Pregnancy Care Centers Sept. 30. Praying of the rosary, which is usually done in procession around the pond at Emmanuel Parish, was confined to inside the church after the Saturday vigil Mass with Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito, who reminded the faithful of the vital work done in the diocese to save the lives of unborn children.

As the skies opened up during the liturgy for Respect Life Sunday, the bishop echoed the words of St. John Paul II and Pope Francis in supporting the right to life of every human being, no matter in what stage or condition they find themselves.

Bishop Barbarito mentioned that it was the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Sunday in the U.S. Catholic Church, beginning after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 decisions that permitted abortion nationwide. He expressed appreciation for the court last year overturning the Roe vs. Wade ruling, shifting the abortion issue to the states.

However, he said, “The right to life is neither a federal nor a state issue as it is a fundamental right given to us by God in accord with the very purpose for which our great nation was founded. Our country came into existence on the foundation that the right to life — the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — is granted by God to every man and woman made in his image and likeness. It is not a matter for the civil law to determine. It is a matter of God’s law. The way God created us. The way God put his purpose into creation.”

Allowing legal abortion to exist calls into question the right to life of everyone, he said, adding that we have clearly seen instances where human life is undervalued depending upon age, infirmity and immigration status.

What Pope John Paul II called “radical solidarity,” Bishop Barbarito said, “calls us to be united in respect for the gift of life at all stages, from the moment of conception until natural death. Radical solidarity reminds us that we are one human family.” Leading the way in caring for the sick, unborn, homeless and immigrants is Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Palm Beach, he said. The agency and its programs, including Birthline/Lifeline, actively reach out to give compassionate care to those in need.

“I am deeply grateful to all of the men and women within our diocese who demonstrate what radical solidarity is about, and especially you here at Emmanuel Parish,” the bishop said.

Katherine Bowers, Birthline/Lifeline program director, speaking at the end of the Mass, thanked Bishop Barbarito for his strong convictions, pastoral leadership and holy example in support of the pro-life cause. She also expressed gratitude to Emmanuel Parish and its pastor, Father Gaudioso Zamora, for welcoming the Steps for Life event every year.    

“Once again, we gather to pray for a change in the culture and to support Birthline/Lifeline. As many of you know, annually Birthline/Lifeline offers life-affirming and compassionate support to thousands of women, children and families every year,” Bowers explained. “We offer information resources and support so that women who come to our centers are able to make healthy decisions for themselves and their children, both born and still in the womb.

“Our Lord desires for all of us to be his hands and feet in changing the culture,” she said. “We are called in different ways, so we must listen closely every day for what each of us can do. Steps for Life, the event today, is a wonderful opportunity to do just that. Thank you to those who donate to Birthline/Lifeline. You play an integral role in our work. We are grateful for those who pray for the success of our program, for our clients and for a return to respect for human life in our society.”

Bowers said it was the first time in about 12 years that heavy rain precluded the rosary procession around the pond. She urged everyone to stay in the church to pray the rosary, led by students from St. Vincent Ferrer School in Delray Beach. Pizza was served afterward in the outdoor pavilion.

Soggy weather also affected the Life Chain that was to follow the Oct. 1 evening Mass with Bishop Barbarito at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in Palm Beach Gardens. Afterward, instead of the faithful walking outside to pray and hold pro-life signs along Military Trail, a group stayed inside the cathedral to pray the rosary with the bishop.

To learn more about Birthline/Lifeline’s services, visit Contact the Respect Life ministry of Catholic Charities by emailing Deanna Herbst-Hoosac at or calling 561-360-3330. For information about Catholic Charities, visit and follow the agency on social media.

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