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October is Respect Life Month

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Dear members of Christ’s faithful,

With the first Sunday of October, the Catholic Church in the U.S. begins its annual observance of Respect Life month.  The theme of this 40th observance is taken from the words of Jesus:  “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

Jesus’ promise of “life to the full” is especially poignant today, when our culture and sometimes our government promote values inimical to the happiness and true good of individuals and society.

Our culture today increasingly views life as a “zero sum” game, in which advancing one’s interests requires putting aside the needs of others.  This leads to callous unconcern for anyone who is especially weak, defenseless, and in need of our help. The unborn child, the aging parent who some call a “burden” on our medical system, the allegedly “excess” embryo in the fertility clinic, the person with a disability, the cognitively impaired accident victim who needs assistance in receiving food and water to live—each today is at risk of being dismissed as a “life unworthy of life.”  This callousness is also reflected in the increasing recourse of states to the use of capital punishment.

Efforts by agencies of the U.S. government to define abortion and contraceptive services as “health care” as if fertility were a disease also threaten the conscience rights and religious freedom of those who dissent from and refuse to cooperate with such mandated services.

Respect Life month reminds us Catholics that we cannot shrink from the obligation to assert the values and principles we hold essential to the common good, beginning with the right to life of every human being and the right of every woman and man to live according to their religious convictions.  This month, and every month, may we as committed Catholics and as faithful citizens, witness to the inherent equality and transcendent value of every human being.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Thomas Wenski
Archbishop of Miami

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