October 7, 2016


Be ‘Moved by Mercy’ during Respect Life Month and beyond

“If you are pronounced dead when your heart stops, … why are you not pronounced alive when it starts?”

Though we are weary of social media and the mixed messages that consistently bombard us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and various other platforms, we sometimes come across simple yet poignant messages that make us ponder the values prevalent in our society and how we are living out our tenet of being our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.

October is Respect Life Month, and the above quote struck a chord with us as we consider how we are doing in the ever-growing challenge of respecting every human life—from womb to tomb. Since 1972, the U.S. bishops’ Respect Life Program—and Catholic dioceses across the United States—has celebrated during this month the value and dignity of human life.

A week into this period that the Church observes each fall, it might be good to reflect on what you have done—or could or will do—to help build a culture of life through your prayerful actions.

Some of you attended the annual Respect Life Mass on Oct. 2 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Others took part in the Life Chain events at various venues across central and southern Indiana. Still others have or will silently pray outside area abortion facilities, including the one at 86th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis, during the ongoing national 40 Days for Life campaign. Go to 40daysforlife.com to sign up or to find other sites across central and southern Indiana or nearby communities where you can pray.

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the right-of-way outside the Indianapolis Planned Parenthood abortion facility, the public is invited to join the “United” 40 Days for Life bus tour rally, the largest nationwide pro-life mobilization in American history, bringing together record numbers of people across all 50 states to pray, fast and publicly stand for life. The event will include local and national speakers.

All these prayerful actions go hand in hand with this year’s Respect Life Month theme, “Moved by Mercy,” which draws on a quote from

Pope Francis when he called for a Jubilee Year of Mercy: “We are called to show mercy because mercy has been shown to us.” Respect Life Sunday also kicked off a yearlong program for the U.S. Catholic Church where that theme will be its centerpiece.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reminds us that all human life must be “cherished and protected.”

“When we let our hearts be moved by God’s mercy, it shapes everything,” said Cardinal Dolan, who emphasized the need to protect human life at every stage. “From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection.

“Women and men suffering after abortion, individuals tempted to end their lives, couples longing to conceive a child, people pushed to the margins of society by a ‘throwaway culture,’ expectant mothers facing challenging pregnancies, and every other person—each ‘has a place in God’s heart from all eternity,’ ” he said, citing the pope’s 2016 apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”).

Cardinal Dolan called for every person to be “treated with the dignity they deserve. No one should ever be treated callously or carelessly—everyone should be cherished and protected!”

If you’re looking for evidence that our prayers for life are bearing fruit, we can offer two recent examples: this July, a Planned Parenthood referral facility in Terre Haute closed due to lack of business and income, as did one in Avon.

Prayer is one of our faith’s most powerful weapons. May we spend time each day this month, and beyond, and be “moved by mercy” to offer petitions for those who need them most—the unborn, the aged, the infirmed and countless others of God’s children.

—Mike Krokos

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