October begins the annual Respect Life Program as called for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The first Sunday of October, this year, October 2, is Respect Life Sunday and all of October is designated as Respect Life Month. The theme for this year’s program is Called to Serve Moms in Need. It is a very appropriate theme as the Church, in her opposition to abortion is based on God’s natural law, fully committed to assisting women in a difficult situation both during and after a pregnancy. Engendering a respect for life goes far beyond opposition to abortion and includes the care of the entire person from the moment of conception until natural death.
The Supreme Court decision of June 24, 2022, was a watershed moment in reversing almost 50 years of legalized abortion within our nation through its tragic decision of Roe v. Wade. However, while we are very pleased with the recent decision, we do not accept it in a vitriolic way but in a Christian manner that realizes there is still so much more that needs to be done in regard to the challenges to respect for life on so many levels. We must do all we can, through proper legal persuasion and prayer, to curtail state legislation permitting abortion. We need to deal with and address the harsh opposition which has arisen against the recent Supreme Court decision in a positive manner. It is very disheartening to experience the violence which has arisen against pro-life centers, including Catholic institutions, since the decision.
In keeping with the theme of Called to Serve Moms in Need, we need to continue to provide assistance and to work with women who have found themselves in a difficult situation through a pregnancy, as well as after the birth of their child. In the Diocese of Palm Beach, our Catholic Charities outreach excels in this manner as it continues to expand these services which we fully support. Supporting a respect for life, at every stage, is a priority within the life of the Diocese of Palm Beach. I am very much looking forward to being at the Mass and the Rosary Walk sponsored by Birthline/Lifeline of Catholic Charities at Emmanuel Parish on October 1. I also look forward to the Respect for Life Mass and Life Chain which is to take place at the Cathedral of Saint Ignatius of Loyola on October 2. I am always pleased to participate in the 40 Days for Life within our Diocese.
The Church has been accused of being one sided on political issues and that issue is life. It is now ironic to experience so many political agendas strongly promoting voting in order to support abortion. One can only wonder now who has a single issue political perspective. The Church’s single mindedness on the right to life is not a matter of politics nor opinion. It is a matter of an inalienable right which is the foundation of God’s plan as well as upon which our country was founded. Abortion is a foundational issue in regard to respect for life. However, it is not the only issue and does not in any manner lessen the emphasis that must be made regarding the respect for life on behalf of the person on death row, the elderly, the sick, the immigrant, and any person whose right to life and well-being is undermined in our culture today. The Church has a consistent voice in this regard. When the right to life of an unborn child is ignored, so will the right to live of everyone else.
As we begin Respect for Life Month, I wish to thank all of the faithful men and women of our Diocese who are witnesses to life and earnestly pray for and support laws and programs that respect life. You make a tremendous difference, and it is an inspiration to know you. May the Lord continue to bless you, your families and all your efforts. As we join together this Sunday, this month, and this year, we recommit ourselves to the sanctity of life in serving moms and all people in need. That is what respect for life is all about. This is the life that comes from God in whose image and likeness we are made.
Most Reverend Gerald M. Barbarito
September 30, 2022