All human life must be “cherished and protected,” said Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
He made the comments in a Sept. 28 statement launching the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ yearlong Respect Life Program.
Each year, October is designated as Respect Life Month by the USCCB and this year’s theme is “Moved by Mercy.”
It draws on a quote from Pope Francis when he called for the Jubilee
Year of Mercy: “We are called to show mercy because mercy has been shown
The first Sunday of October, which is Oct. 2 this year, is Respect
Life Sunday, and kicks off what is a yearlong pro-life program for the
U.S. Catholic Church.
The USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities has prepared a packet
for the 2016-2017 program containing materials and resources that can be
downloaded in English and Spanish.
“When we let our hearts be moved by God’s mercy, it shapes
everything,” said Dolan, who emphasized the need to protect human life
at every stage. “From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals
nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection.”
“Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end
their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the
margins of society by a ‘throwaway culture,’ expectant mothers facing
challenging pregnancies, and every other person - each ‘has a place in
God’s heart from all eternity’,” he said, citing the pope’s 2016
apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”).
Dolan called for every person to be “treated with the dignity they
deserve. No one should ever be treated callously or carelessly -
everyone should be cherished and protected!”
Launched in 1972, the Respect Life Program was created to celebrate
the value and dignity of human life in Catholic dioceses across the
United States. Each year, as a part of the program, Respect Life Month
is observed with liturgies and marked by special events that take place
during the month of October and continue through the following
“Like the good Samaritan, may we always treat each person with
merciful love and respect that affirms the gift of his or her life,”
says the introduction to the packet of materials, which include
brochures, fliers and posters. A social media toolkit also is available
at the same website; the social media campaign is using the hashtag
The yearlong observance aims “to help Catholics understand, value and
become engaged with supporting the dignity of the human person, and
therefore the gift of every person’s life.”
The 2016-17 materials feature six articles highlighting ways to put
mercy into action. They address the tragedy of assisted suicide;
navigating infertility; facilitating healing after abortion; end-of-life
care; attentiveness to God’s creation; and supporting expectant mothers
who are considering placing their baby for adoption.
This year’s program offers new prayers, toolkits for clergy and the
media, as well as other resources for parish bulletins, religious
education, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program, marriage
prep and Catholic high schools.
The materials also are suitable for
individual use, according to the pro-life secretariat.