TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Dear Sisters and Brother in Christ,
T his weekend of October 1st and 2nd marks Respect Life Sunday, the beginning of Respect Life Month as well as the renewal of the Respect Life Program which will continue through September 2017. This year's theme is Moved by Mercy, so fitting during this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, as a reminder that the life of each and every one of us is a gift of the love and mercy of God and that the respect we show to the life of every person is an extension of that same love and mercy.
Very prevalent in our world today are many horrific acts showing base disrespect for human life. Terrorism, violence, prejudice, discrimination and religious persecution are among them. Bullying, which can lead to dire consequences, is another manifestation of disrespect for life. However, in our society it is also alarming that the same disrespect for life manifests itself in acts which are considered justified, legalized and even excused as acts of mercy, such as abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, the death penalty and embryonic stem cell research.
We are coming to a significant election within our nation. Many difficult and challenging decisions are before us this year. In this election, there is no question that the protection of life, from the moment of conception until natural death, is the priority which must be kept above all others. The matter of abortion is a threshold issue and cannot be considered as one among many. Pope Francis put this very well in addressing the leaders of Poland on his visit there for World Youth Day when he stated: “It is the responsibility of the State, the Church and society to accompany and concretely help all those who find themselves in serious difficulty, so that a child will never be seen as a burden but as a gift, and those who are most vulnerable and poor will never be abandoned."
Respect for life at every stage must never be subject to the criteria of political correctness. This is crucial in the matter of abortion. As we enter into Respect Life Month, let us continue to join our hearts in mercy and prayer in support of the respect for life which is so needed in our troubled world today. Thank you for being men and women of mercy and faith and of letting life be the supreme priority.
October is also the month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, Mary, who above all stands as a witness to life. We turn to her in a special way.
With every prayerful wish, I am
Gerald M. Barbarito
Bishop of Palm Beach