Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz is urging Alaskans to celebrate “Respect Life Sunday” on Sunday, Oct. 3 – an annual, nationwide commemoration to help bring Catholic Church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and public at large.
In the debates over the treatment of human life, there are “signs of hope,” Archbishop Schwietz told the Catholic Anchor. “The hearts of people are changing,” he said, “and especially young people are seeing the reality that human life does begin at conception.”
Indeed, recent national polls show increasing opposition to abortion and federally funded embryo-destructive stem cell research.
But “what’s more worrisome is the end-of-life issues,” he cautioned, as certain groups continue pushing for euthanasia and assisted suicide. In fact, Alaska’s nearest neighbors, Oregon and Washington, both have laws allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to end patients’ lives. And the practice of withdrawing assisted nutrition and hydration from patients who cannot feed themselves is commonplace in many areas.
In the face of the current “challenge,” Archbishop Schwietz recommended the diocese’s Catholics pray that all human lives are respected, from conception to natural death. And he added that Respect Life Sunday is a good opportunity for Catholics to “reflect on the need for us to be people who bring the truth to our society, as a people of faith.”
Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Sunday project is sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and observed in virtually all of the 195 Catholic dioceses in the U.S.
This year’s theme is, “The measure of love is to love without measure.” To encourage all to “heroic” love of the most defenseless members of the human family, the USCCB has prepared Respect Life Sunday bulletin inserts, posters, prayer intentions, a liturgy guide, preaching reflections and brochures.
Among other issues of pro-life import, the materials address end-of-life care, population control and morally permissible treatments for infertility. The brochures explain why assisted nutrition and hydration are natural means of preserving life, not a medical “treatment;” why population growth is a “driver,” not a hindrance of progress; and how infertility can be addressed in morally sound ways.
This year’s liturgy guide offers intercessions for life, a Litany for Life, a prayer, enthronement and novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as suggested preaching reflections for Respect Life Sunday and January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States.
Archbishop Schwietz plans to disseminate links to the bishops’ online materials to all 32 parishes of the Anchorage Archdiocese. They may be downloaded — in English or Spanish – from the Web site of the bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, at usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp.
Printed with permission from CatholicAnchor.org