"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. " (Psalm 139)
Sunday, October 4, is Respect Life Sunday. In 1972, one year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States in its infamous Roe v Wade decision, Pope Saint John Paul II designated the first Sunday of October as a day for Catholics and people of good will around the world to pray for respect for human life.
Respect Life Sunday takes on special importance this year in the wake of the May 25th murder of George Floyd and the renewed national sensitivity to the existence of the evil of racism in American life. Racism in policing and in our judicial system grants certain protections to one group of people, while denying those same protections to others.
Life is sacred. All life is sacred. The Church calls her sons and daughters to recognize the sacredness of all human life and to live in such a way that every human life is respected and protected. In 1971, Catholic pacifist, Eileen Egan, coined the phrase 'seamless garment' to describe a holistic reverence for human life. The phrase was repeated often by Chicago's late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to explain the Catholic Church's position on the dignity of human life from the very first moment of conception to the moment of natural death. If a thread becomes loose and is pulled from a garment at any one place in the garment, the entire garment is weakened. Violence against the sanctity of human life at any stage or in any way, threatens and devalues all human life.
The sanctity of human life is under attack in many ways in our country and our world. Racism is one of the ways in which human life is devalued and disrespected. Abortion is another. While we cannot close our eyes to the sin of racism, neither can we close our eyes to the sin of abortion. The value of human life does not depend on the color of one's skin or ethnicity, on the usefulness or strength of a person, or the age or size of a person. All life is sacred because of the dignity God places on each and every human life from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.
We cannot pick and choose which lives we will value and honor and which we will disrespect and discount. At a time in our history in which we have been powerfully reminded that not all citizens enjoy equal protection under the law, may we never forget those who are denied the most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life. Our country was founded upon the inspired vision that certain rights are granted, not by the largesse of man, but by God Himself and, first, among these inalienable rights, is the right to life.
See you at Mass!