October 9, 2020

At Respect Life Mass, archbishop calls all to ‘live the Gospel of Life’

Ethan Moncayo peeks between the heads of his parents Karina Ramirez and Marco Moncayo, members of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, during the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 4. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Ethan Moncayo peeks between the heads of his parents Karina Ramirez and Marco Moncayo, members of St. Patrick Parish in Indianapolis, during the Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 4. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

A quarter of a century ago, St. John Paul II penned one of his most well-known encyclicals, “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”). It addressed the dignity of the human person as well as the various threats to the sanctity of human life.

“The encyclical is as relevant today as when it was first published in 1995,” said Archbishop Charles C. Thompson.

He made this comment during his homily at the annual Respect Life Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on Oct. 4.

Given the anniversary and the document’s continued relevancy, he said, “Our 2020 theme for Respect Life Month is ‘Live the Gospel of Life.’ ”

At the heart of that theme “is the steadfast conviction of our Catholic faith that every human being is created in the image of God,” the archbishop noted. “To live the Gospel of life,’ we must be committed to defending the sacredness of life and the dignity of the person from the moment of conception to natural death.”

Standing with life, opposing its threats

Because living the Gospel of life “includes a sense of solidarity with one another,” he said, “we must especially be the voice and advocate for the unborn, the elderly and all those [whom] society tends to perceive as burdens rather than persons.”

To do so, he said, means to follow the call of Pope Francis “to go out to the very margins and peripheries of society …, to the poor, the defenseless, the abandoned, the homeless, the immigrant, the refugee, the addicted, the unemployed, the incarcerated, the sick and the dying,” and to properly care for the environment lest “we hurt ourselves and those who will come after us.”

Catholics stand for all life. Likewise, they should stand against anything that threatens the dignity of each person, said Archbishop Thompson, “namely, abortion, racism, human trafficking, all forms of abuse, unjust discrimination, capital punishment, euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.”

Some actions that might not be considered as grave as those listed still attack the dignity of others, he noted.

“We must also speak out against the impact of gossip, shaming, bullying and intimidation that contribute to the growing struggles of polarization, violence, mental illness, depression, despair and suicide,” said the archbishop. “We do well to keep before us that our real battle is not so much with another person as with sin and evil.”

‘Remain Christ-centered’ to witness well

To apply this year’s “Live the Gospel of Life” theme requires Catholics to be Christ-centered, said Archbishop Thompson. “Remaining Christ-centered enables us to look upon one another as brothers and sisters rather than as a threat, burden or enemy.

“Remaining Christ-centered in proclaiming the Gospel of life must be rooted in prayer, both individually and communally, drawing from the wisdom of God’s word and sacramental grace, especially in the real presence of Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist.”

Living the Gospel of life also requires “advocacy, accompaniment, dialogue and encounter,” the archbishop noted.

“May our witness bear the good fruit of mercy, compassion, encouragement, understanding and reconciliation. Let us strive to be Christ to others and embrace Christ in others. May our every effort to protect and defend human life be founded on Christ the cornerstone.”

Time was set aside toward the end of the Mass to recognize this year’s Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Respect Life Award winners chosen by the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity.

Then Archbishop Thompson offered the final blessing to the congregation and those watching the livestream of the Mass, calling on them and all to go forth and “live the Gospel of life.”
 

(To view the Mass and listen to the archbishop’s homily, go to cutt.ly/RespectLifeMass. For resources on this year’s Respect Life theme “Live the Gospel of Life,” go to www.respectlife.org/2020.)


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