WASHINGTON, D.C., September 28, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The nation’s Catholic bishops are calling on their faithful to observe October as Respect Life Month, and pro-life activists are eager to answer the call.
“This October is a particularly important Respect Life Month, as we approach the most important national election we have ever had,” said Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.
On Tuesday, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman on the Committee of Pro-life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement in honor of the annual observance.
Although he noted “Americans increasingly identify as pro-life,” and the nation has seen a decline in the number of abortions, he said Catholics must work to curb the “staggering” death toll due to euthanasia and abortion.
He also called attention to the fact that this situation stemmed from the nation’s history of medically neglecting vulnerable people.
“In time, neglect led to the acceptance of active measures to end the lives of such human beings, whose existence came to be viewed as a ‘burden,’” explained the Cardinal. “Now early induction and late-term abortion for ‘fetal anomalies,’ and doctor-assisted death by overdose for the sick and elderly, are not only State-approved but even publicly funded in some states.”
The Affordable Care Act poses serious problems for Catholics, according to the USCCB statement.
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“Under the ‘preventive services’ mandate of the Affordable Care Act, Catholic employers and most Catholic institutions offering health coverage to their employees, will be forced to cover all these objectionable items,” said the Cardinal.
A subsequent mandate issued by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, after the passage of the ACA further restricts the rights of conscience for Catholics. The Cardinal explains, “Under the administration’s rule, even individuals who work for these Catholic institutions will have no right to reject such coverage for themselves or their minor children.”
The USCCB statement encourages Catholics to participate in “prayer services and educational conferences, engaging in public witness and advocacy, and helping to offer church and community services to those in need.”
It also points Catholics to their Respect Life Program resources. For instance, Cardinal DiNardo asked priests to use the USCCB’s homily notes for Respect Life Month.
Fr. Pavone said he and a phalanx of other priests are prepared to defend the unborn from the pulpit and altar. “The thousands of priests who belong to Priests for Life will respond to the call of the Lord, through their ordination, to preach clearly and vigorously about the need to protect the unborn and to elect public servants who know the difference between serving the public and killing the public,” he told LifeSiteNews.com. “The various documents of the bishops and of the Holy Father urge us to do this. Moreover, as we begin the Year of Faith, Priests for Life will illustrate how defending life is not something added to the Faith, but that flows from its very foundations.”
Cardinal DiNardo celebrated pro-life youth who “have come of age since Bl. Pope John Paul II inaugurated World Youth Day,” and recognized Catholics who were “ exposed for years to the media’s caricatures of Catholic teaching.”
Those Catholics, it goes on to say, “are often surprised by the wisdom and rightness of those teachings when they are given an opportunity to learn more about them. That is why Respect Life Month and the Year of Faith are vitally important.”
But not all Americans benefited from or held to those teachings. “A key aspect of this is offering the mercy of God to those who have had abortions,” Fr. Pavone told LifeSiteNews. “The bishops again emphasize this point, and Priests for Life carries it out in particular by overseeing the work of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry for healing after abortion.”