September 25, 2009


The challenge of building a culture of life as Catholics

As Catholics, we are called to build a culture of life each day.

It is by no means an easy task.

We face a reality that many people in power, and those who have embraced a mentality where faith is of little or no value to them, seem to be uncomfortable whenever life issues come to the forefront. Their attitudes and actions only add to our challenge of converting hearts and minds.

The “a” word—abortion—has become a hot topic for many people of faith in the health care debate and, depending on where you get your news, you’ve read or heard umpteen stories about where this proposal or that proposal stands on protecting the unborn child. Our task as people of faith is to work to ensure that abortion becomes a tragic reality of the past, not part of our nation’s future health care reform.

But our efforts to protect the dignity of each human person don’t start and end with the unborn child. Our faith calls us to share our love with others and reach out to the individuals most in need, including the poor, vulnerable and despised of this world. Cardinal Justin F. Rigali of Philadelphia, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, makes that point in an essay, “Where do we go from here? The challenge of building a culture of life.”

His reflections shared here are part of a pamphlet that is included in the 2009-10 Respect Life Program material shared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities.

Cardinal Rigali says, “From the neighbor next door to the unknown person living thousands of miles away, each and every one of us has intrinsic and immeasurable worth. That is because God created each of us in his image by the outpouring of his infinite and unconditional love.”

If people across the spectrum—Democrat and Republican, Catholic and Protestant, black and white, young and old, and individuals from all walks of life—would realize that simple truth then we could begin taking pronounced steps in the right direction where respect for all life is concerned.

October is Respect Life Month, and we are less than a week from beginning what should be 31 days of constant prayer in our ongoing mission to build a culture of life.

There are plenty of opportunities throughout the archdiocese during the next few weeks to do just that. The annual Respect Life Sunday Mass at 1 p.m. on Oct. 4 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis, celebrated by Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein, presents a wonderful opportunity to pray for life. The annual Life Chain, held at several locations throughout southern and central Indiana that same day (see related story, page 2), is another way to stand up for life.

The ecumenical “40 Days for Life: Praying for an End to Abortion,” which began on Sept. 20 and ends on Nov. 1, gives us and our brothers and sisters of various faith traditions another avenue to show how much we value all life. For more information about the “40 Days for Life” prayer campaigns in Indianapolis and Louisville, log on to or

As Cardinal Rigali says, when it comes to changing hearts and minds, there is nothing more powerful than prayer and sacrifice.

“The defense of human life at its most vulnerable stages is an essential duty of those inspired by the Gospel. Our prayers and efforts in this cause should open us up to defending the rights and meeting the needs of human beings all along life’s spectrum,” he says. “Having said ‘no’ to attacks on innocent human life, we need to affirm a great ‘yes’ to the full range of human living and flourishing.”

May we take the cardinal’s words to heart in October and beyond, and strive to live our vocations each day by building a culture of life.

—Mike Krokos

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