My dear friends in Christ,
The theme of this year’s Respect Life Month, “Moved by Mercy,” takes its inspiration from Pope Francis’ proclamation of the Year of Mercy. Our challenge during this Jubilee Year has been to become agents of God’s mercy which He first offered to us. Our joy and gratitude for this great gift enables us to bring comfort to every person we encounter at every stage of life from conception to natural death.
The life and recent canonization of Saint Teresa of Calcutta serve as further reminders that every person hungers “for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.” Saint Teresa showed us how to serve Christ by caring for the members of our human family who are most in need. Through her example, we see that every human life is deserving of attention and care because each of us is made in the image and likeness of our Creator.
Today’s cultural quest for productivity, pleasure, and independence pushes aside attitudes and ideas that respect the sanctity and dignity of human life. In what Pope Francis has called a “throwaway culture,” our role is to preserve and protect human life at every phase: to be a source of hope for soon-to-be parents who receive news that their unborn child has a life-threatening diagnosis; to offer a sanctuary of healing for women and men who have experienced abortion, or to help a terminally ill loved one live fully until their very last natural breath. All of these situations and every one in between are opportunities for us to be love in action. Our God is a God of mercy who brings us strength and healing in our daily lives. Let us pray that we may follow God’s holy example of mercy and put mercy into practice.
I thank those parishes, schools, and institutions throughout our diocese who participate in the Respect Life program during this month and who make our respect life efforts a priority throughout the year. I invite everyone in our diocese to continue to pray and witness to our commitment as Catholics to being “people of life.”
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend David J. Walkowiak
Bishop of Grand Rapids