October is respect life month in the Church. When we as a Church talk about being pro-life, that phrase has many different aspects to it. It is pretty common knowledge that the Catholic Church is a strong leader in the Pro-Life movement, which goes well beyond the work to end abortions. Protection for the unborn is one of the primary missions of the Pro-Life group because it is the first stage of life, but not the only one. Each year, over 900,000 children are aborted in the U.S. alone, that is a staggering number and sadly in Washington DC, 38% of pregnancies end in abortion. It is estimated that one out of four women have had an abortion and we need to respond to them with forgiveness and love. When we talk about being pro-life in our Church it is more than just being anti-abortion, it is about supporting life from conception to natural death. This means that we should strive for the dignity of life from the time that the child is conceived to the time that we naturally die. This means that we should also not support euthanasia, no matter what light it is cast in, it is sometimes called “dignity in death” because some would argue that it is better to die than to suffer and that the taking of a life over allowing them to suffer is better for the person or even the family. This also applies to the death penalty, within the United States, have an ability to keep those who have committed a major crime in prison. Capital punishment is not supported by the Church for multiple reason, first and foremost, there is a small chance, that the person convicted is not guilty, but it also does not allow for a conversion of heart by the person who is guilty, and most of the time, capital punishment is retaliation and not justice.
We sometimes separate social justice and pro-life as two different and separate groups, but they are intertwined. If we profess to support life, we also need to help and provide support for those who are living, if we support social justice, then we need to have the first rule, which is life. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves and then explained that all people are our neighbors, from the child conceived with a disability, to the child conceived on a hook-up, to the immigrant, to the prisoner on death row, to the elderly person in a nursing home or those on their death beds. Being pro-life in the Catholic Church also means providing for the needs of the other in many varied ways, which is why the Church provides food and water to those in need, we as a parish are supporting this effort with Meals for the Heartland. The Catholic Church feeds millions of people throughout the world as a part of our supporting life efforts. It also provides health care for millions. This is what it means to be Pro-Life. Pray for all of the pro-life ministries that we support throughout the world.