WASHINGTON (August 2, 2005) — "Help build a world where human life is always loved and defended, every form of violence banished" is the theme for the 2005-2006 Respect Life Program.
The theme is derived from Pope John Paul's prayer to the Virgin Mary on December 8, 2004. Respect Life Sunday will be observed on October 2 this year.
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life program brings information about Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public.
The program combines education, prayer, services and advocacy. It is observed in virtually all of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States.
Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore and Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sent a copy of the Respect Life program packet to every Catholic Bishop in the country.
In an accompanying letter, Cardinal Keeler said the Respect Life Program looks at cultural attitudes hostile to life, such as radical individualism, moral relativism, materialism, and utilitarianism. "These attitudes are leading to acceptance of 'medicalized' euthanasia of the disabled and dying, as well as the destruction of human embryos for research," the Cardinal wrote.
The six articles in this year's packet address the following topics: capital punishment; the contributions of Pope John Paul II to understanding of what it means to die with dignity; the lasting contributions of The Gospel of Life; the Roe Court's abandonment of science and reason; the links between contraception and abortion; and the moral and social dimensions of bioengineering. Suggested program models and resources are included with each article.
Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, is the author of the article entitled "Justice, Mercy and Capital Punishment."
In addition to materials for Respect Life Sunday, this year's Liturgy Guide includes Intercessions for Life, suggested preaching reflections for Respect Life Sunday, a sample Holy Hour for Life and Novena for Life (both with many prayers taken or developed from the writings of Pope Benedict XVI).
"The Bishops' Committee fro Pro-Life Activities is deeply grateful for the support you've shown over the years by distributing and publicizing Respect Life materials in your diocese, and integrating Respect Life topics into your local curricula, conferences and events," Cardinal Keeler said. "We hope that these materials will also be useful in your efforts to foster greater respect for life."
NOTE: The Respect Life materials may be ordered from the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities by calling their distribution center's toll-free number 866/ 582-0943 or by fax to 301/ 779-8596.
Downloadable copies of Respect Life materials will be posted in English and Spanish on the Secretariat's website as of August 1st at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/index.htm.