Respect Life Program
Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent
The annual Respect Life Program is a year-round, nationwide effort to help Catholics understand, value, and become engaged with building a culture that cherishes every human life.
Although sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Respect Life Program is essentially comprised of the efforts of leaders throughout the Church like you—parish priests, staff, and volunteers; teachers and school administrators; diocesan leaders; and so many others.
The U.S. bishops produce these materials to assist you in your efforts. Instead of acting as stand-alone resources, they are designed to be brought to life as tools in your hands—build off or adapt them to fit your specific needs! This year's theme, "Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent," is featured October 2018 - September 2019.
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.
The Perfect Gift
Soon after the birth of my son Charlie,* who has Down syndrome, a visitor asked whether he was “mild, moderate, or severe”—referring to his level of cognitive impairment. I was shocked. In my arms I held my beautiful baby boy, who defied easy categorization.
It’s like looking at stained glass from the outside: the colors look dark, and you can’t see the figures. But inside, with the sun shining through, the effect can be brilliant.
From inside our family, love illuminates our life with Charlie. What may seem dreary to others, perhaps even unbearable, is actually filled with beauty and color. Our love has nothing to do with his abilities. We love him simply because of who he is, and understanding this teaches us a fundamental truth: every life is a good and perfect gift.
Clinical labels don’t tell the whole story.
Read the full version at usccb.org/perfect-gift.
Caring for Loved Ones at Life's End
We are created to depend upon one another and walk together in suffering. But when loved ones approach life’s end, we may not know how to provide compassionate care. Surround your friend or family member with love, support, and companionship that are “anchored in unconditional respect for their human dignity, beginning with respect for the inherent value of their lives” (To Live Each Day with Dignity, USCCB).
Invite God in. Listen. Inform yourself. Be steadfast in compassion. Help them achieve closure. Provide opportunities for resolution. Reminisce. Provide a peaceful atmosphere. Show tenderness. Bear their transition patiently.
The dying process is a sacred time.
Learn about these 10 tips at usccb.org/endoflifecare.
Bridges of Mercy for Healing after Abortion
Maria,* Vanessa, Li, Jennifer, and Darryl are among the tens of millions of Americans whose lives have been directly touched by abortion. Like so many others, they have experienced regret, guilt, and grief. But, as they have also experienced, God’s healing love and mercy are always possible.
Many Catholics want to help women and men who have experienced abortion, but some don’t know how to begin. Visit usccb.org/bridges-of-mercy to learn how people from various walks of life can assist friends, family members, fellow parishioners, clients—or perhaps even themselves.
Life is a gift from God, and so is His mercy.
Also, be aware that the U.S. Church’s Project Rachel Ministry for healing after abortion offers confidential, compassionate help. Visit HopeAfterAbortion.org.
Read the full version at usccb.org/bridges-of-mercy.
Another Look at Contraception
To some, the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching against birth control may seem outdated. Yet with each passing year, evidence of contraception’s negative consequences keeps piling up.
In the time since birth control first became widely used, science has shown that some contraceptives can cause early abortions; procured abortions and nonmarital births skyrocketed; and women have been subjected to sometimes serious or fatal health issues, as well as what economist George Akerlof calls “the feminization of poverty.”*
As humans made in God’s image, we are called to imitate His generous, sacrificial, life-giving, and eternal love. Through the Church’s teaching, He invites us to a fuller, richer, deeper way of life and love.
God invites us to a fuller, richer, deeper way of life and love.
See the full article at usccb.org/contraception
Killing the Pain, Not the Patient: Palliative Care vs. Assisted Suicide
Assisted suicide is in the news and on lawmakers’ agendas. Supporters call it "aid in dying" & claim it’s just another option for end-of-life care. But it's radically different from the practice of palliative care, the healing art of relieving pain and other distressing symptoms for patients who are seriously ill.
Palliative care intends to comfort a patient, addressing physical, psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. Assisted suicide, by contrast, directly intends the patient’s death. It ignores any underlying problems, and instead abandons and eliminates the patient who has the problems.
As a society and as individuals, we must dedicate ourselves to providing genuinely compassionate care that protects God’s gift of life.
Did You Know? Medical organizations like the American Medical Association oppose assisted suicide.
Read the full version at usccb.org/killing-the-pain
Another Look at Abortion
If someone takes an innocent person’s life after he or she is born, it’s against the law; before birth (even minutes before, in most states), it's legal because of the U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.
Abortion results in the death of a child. For many, abortion causes severe and long-lasting emotional, psychological, and spiritual trauma, and other detrimental effects have also been documented. (For help, visit www.HopeAfterAbortion.org.)
So, what are we to do? The Church does not approach difficult pregnancy decisions with a false “either/or” mentality, pitting mother against child. We love them both!
Support mothers and their children during and after difficult pregnancies.
Read the full version at usccb.org/abortion.