.- Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia has written a letter for Respect Life Sunday which emphasizes the gift of human life, criticizing attitudes that demean the disabled and the unborn. Death is not a âsolutionâ to the problems of life, he insists in the message.
This yearâs Respect Life Sunday, celebrated on Oct. 4, has as its theme âEvery Child Brings Us Godâs Smile.â
In a Sept. 29 statement Cardinal Rigali, who is chairman of the U.S. bishopsâ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said the occasion is a time to reflect with gratitude on âGodâs priceless gift of human lifeâ and to consider our obligations to those at risk of their very lives.
The cardinal criticized the âdeplorableâ attitude that believes some classes of people are not deserving of the same protections and treatment in health care. He also decried the attitude that sees some people, such as the elderly, as not worth protecting because of their perceived âlow quality of life.â
Discrimination in the quality of care given to different groups âdirectly contravenesâ Catholic ethical norms, Cardinal Rigali wrote.
âUnborn children remain the persons whose lives are most at risk in America,â he continued, noting that over one million die each year in abortion facilities. U.S. states are powerless to halt the killing because of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, he added.
Stating that 67 percent of Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortion, the cardinal claimed that all current Congressional proposals for health care reform would allow or mandate abortion funding âeither through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues.â
He emphasized that abortion is not health care and condemned the state of Oregonâs provision of assisted suicide in place of costly prescription drugs. Cardinal Rigali also lamented the killing of âembryonic human beingsâ in stem cell research based on âunsubstantiated hopesâ of new cures.
âDeath is not a solution to lifeâs problems,â he continued, charging that only those blind to the meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems.
The prelate further noted that a âcultural hostilityâ to children, evident in actions like contraception and abortion, will cause more problems as fewer and fewer workers are born to support the elderly.
âChildren, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance,â the cardinal wrote, noting that we will be judged on âlove alone.â
Citing Paulâs First Letter to Timothy, he asked Catholics to look to âChrist Jesus our hopeâ who offers to the world âa share in his victory over death.â
The Respect Life Program, which began in 1972, stresses the value and dignity of human life. Respect Life Sunday is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses of the United States.