Respect Life Program

Be Moved By Mercy ~ Become Engaged 

The Respect Life Program, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, started in 1972 and begins anew each October—the month set aside by the U.S. bishops as “Respect Life Month.” The program promotes respect for human life in light of our intrinsic dignity as having been created in God’s image and likeness and called to an eternal destiny with him. New materials are designed each year to help Catholics understand, value, and become engaged with supporting the dignity of every person, especially by cherishing God’s gift of life. This years theme is Moved By Mercy.

Respect Life Statement 

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, Chairman USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities

My dear friends in Christ:

This summer, I traveled to Poland for World Youth Day, where millions of young Catholics gathered. A theme chosen by Pope Francis that I addressed in a talk I gave to young people was, "Now is the time for mercy." It's timely, isn't it? Yet, as in a story I shared about Pope Saint John Paul II, it's also timeless.

For years, Poland had been oppressed, with no freedom of religion. Human rights had been trampled, and the sacredness of human life violated. Then Pope John Paul II visited in 1979 with a message that changed the world.

He spoke about God, about faith, about human dignity, truth, and the sacredness of human life. He spoke about Jesus and the Church. And what do you think happened? Over a million people responded, chanting over and over, "We want God! We want God!" Mikhail Gorbachev said it was Pope John Paul II's nine-day visit that led to the fall of communism.

Read the full statement here.

The USCCB produces several brochures each year for the Respect Life Program, they can each be read in their entirety below.


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Maria* was going back to Church after her second-grader enrolled in First Communion classes. She didn't know what to say to her daughter after being asked why she didn't go to Communion. 

Maria had an abortion in her teens and felt that she couldn't go to confession because she had committed an "unforgivable sin." 

Li* and his wife, Vanessa*, were attending counseling to address problems in their marriage. Li decided to finally tell Vanessa that, while in college, he had taken his former girlfriend to get an abortion. Vanessa was devastated.

Jennifer* comes from a large, pro-life family that is active in their parish. At the funeral of her devout, beloved mother, Jennifer was despondent beyond the grief of her loss. Jennifer couldn't stop thinking that her mother in heaven would now discover the secret she had kept for thirty years: the existence of a granddaughter, whom Jennifer had aborted in college because she was too ashamed to tell her parents about her pregnancy.

Read the complete brochure here

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An old Irish proverb says, "It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." Indeed, we are created to depend upon one another and walk together in suffering. But when family members or friends approach life's end, we may not know how best to "shelter" them. Here are some concrete ways we can compassionately care for them.Accompanying a loved one in his or her last days is enormously important work, but we do not need to fear our own limitations. Pope Francis tells us, "[God] comes to assist us in our weakness. And his help consists in helping us accept his presence and closeness to us. Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others.

Read the complete brochure here.

 


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Even among terminally ill patients, a request to die is nearly always a cry for help. This request is a distress signal indicating that something in the patient's condition—at the medical, psychological, or social level—has not been adequately attended to.

Studies show that the desire for death in terminally ill individuals generally correlates with both physical pain and poor social support. When comfort or relief is offered in the form of more adequate treatment for depression, better pain management, or more comprehensive palliative care, the desire for death typically vanishes. In the Netherlands, for example, the request for "hastened death" was withdrawn by 85% of patients when their symptoms were better controlled.

Read the complete brochure here.  

 

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We often assume parenthood happens easily after "I do," but for many married couples, it does not. For some, the joy of conception never happens. Others suffer repeated miscarriages. Still others experience secondary infertility: after giving birth to one or more children, they are unable to have another.

The pain can become overwhelming. Social media posts of pregnancies, baby announcements, or pictures of newborns may intensify feelings of being alone in the ache for a child. Attending baby showers and being around children or pregnant women can be excruciating.

Read the complete brochure here.

  
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When we fall in love, become parents, or enter into any significant relationship, it is not uncommon to experience a shift in worldview that shapes our actions. 

Consider parents holding their first newborn son or daughter. While there is no instruction manual for all the possible circumstances they may encounter, their guiding framework is the loving, parental relationship with their child. With his encyclicalLaudato si', Pope Francis invites us to understand more deeply our relationships with God, one another, and the rest of creation, and to live accordingly. "Everything is connected," he reminds us (LS 91).

Read the complete brochure here.


 
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25 years ago I gave birth to a baby boy and … lovingly placed him into the waiting arms of his parents. …I pray that his life has been full of joy, laughter, and abundant love. My thoughts and prayers also turn to my beautiful family and friends that lifted me up then and now. – Maya*

Maya discovered she was pregnant six months into her freshman year of college. When her son was born, she placed him with a very kind adoptive family; she "just knew they were the right choice." Now, years later, Maya emphasizes the importance of offering ongoing support to expectant mothers considering adoption. Would you know how to do so? Maya makes the following suggestions.

Read the complete brochure here