The late Cardinal John J. O’Connor once described the pro-life movement as “we are not simply anti-abortion as we are so often painted to be. We are pro-life, pro the mystery of life, pro the wonder of life, pro the joy of life. And we are impelled to share this message with everyone.”
The former chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities said that being pro-life means bringing the Gospel of Life “to the heart of every man and woman and to make it penetrate every part of society. This involves above all proclaiming the core of this Gospel, which is the proclamation of a living God, who is close to us, who calls us to profound communion with Himself and who awakens in us the certain hope of eternal life. It is the presentation of human life, as a life of relationship, a gift of God, the fruit and sign of His love, it is the proclamation that Jesus has a unique relationship with every person, which enables us to see in every human face, the face of Christ.”
The Church traditionally observes Respect Life Month in October, but Catholics are called to cherish, protect and defend human life all year long. Part of that work is proclaiming the Gospel of Life to others, but what exactly does that mean?
Twenty-five years ago, in his landmark encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) Pope St. John Paul II wrote that the Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus’ saving message to the world. In taking on human flesh, dwelling among us, and sacrificing His very life for our redemption, Christ has revealed the profound dignity of every
human person. This God-given
dignity does not change with our stage of life, abilities, level of independence or any other circumstance. Our existence as humans is rooted in the fact that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God, created to share in the very life of God Himself.
The Holy Father noted that the Church has a special duty to speak on behalf of those who have no voice. “…Human life, as a gift of God, is sacred and inviolable. For this reason procured abortion and euthanasia are absolutely unacceptable. Not only must human life not be taken, but it must be protected with loving concern.”
In his column this week, Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski said that abortion is the “pre-eminent moral issue of our time.” The U.S. bishops reaffirm this message, noting that “the threat of abortion remains our pre-eminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.”
We are called to stand up against this evil by supporting public policy and legislation that respects the sanctity of life and to build a culture that considers abortion unthinkable. We must engage in faithful citizenship, pray for an end to abortion, and support women and men in making life-affirming decisions for their unborn babies.
It is part of our role in proclaiming the Gospel of Life. Human life is a gift from God and is sacred and inviolable. It is the presentation of human life as a life of relationship, a gift of God, the fruit and sign of his love. Through our relationship with Jesus, we should be able to see the dignity and face of Christ in every person, and in turn, to cherish and protect life.