A Note From Fr. Timothy
Last Sunday (October 2nd) was Respect Life Sunday, a time set aside to pray that human life might be cherished and protected at every stage in every circumstance. But we should remember that Respect Life Sunday on the first Sunday of October actually kicks off Respect Life Month. This entire month has been set aside by the USCCB to continually and consistently remind us that life is valuable and to help us build a culture to protect it. October is perhaps and quite fitting a time for this special focus in our country as it falls immediately prior to elections held in early November.
Respect Life Month is a good time for us to put forward those issues related to life in the public sphere and help us to evaluate our potential politicians in light of their stances on those issues. Of course, we recognize that no politician or party will ever be perfect, but we should have some fundamental principles which should weigh heavily in any vote we make. And we must look beyond simply promises and professions to really test how they act and have acted. It is easy for someone to say they respect life or even that they are Catholic and respect what the Church teaches, but then turn around and later act in an opposite manner. This seems to happen all too often and we as voters are lied to and deceived over and over again.
It seems as in these last few years especially, many of our politicians who used to oppose or at least want to limit things like abortions now openly promote it and want it considered a “human right”. What used to be “safe, legal, and rare” even by the most progressive politicians has now become “always, for everyone, at any stage of pregnancy”. This shift shows clearly how when someone is willing to compromise their principles and morality in small ways, it damages them and opens them up to compromising in greater and greater ways until they have no principles remaining.
Respecting life should be a foundational principle for every Catholic and we should not be willing to compromise on it. History continues to teach us that when someone gets even the most basic of issues wrong, their judgment on other issues should not be trusted either. “Whoever is dishonest in small things will be dishonest in greater things” (Lk 16:10).
And although the issue of protecting the unborn often gets the most discussion in the Church during this time of year (largely because it is the most basic and most black and white issue), it is far from the only issue. Respect life also means to protect and care for individuals with terminal diseases or who are on hospice, so that they are never regarded as a burden to their families or to the “system”, but rather cherished and loved. We must continue to advance medical care to relieve their pain and help them and whoever we can, but not to eliminate them or give up on them.
And when life is not respected in society in these fundamental ways, it becomes harder and harder to respect it in other ways or truly desire the good of others. Instead, politicians and governments begin to see people as tools to be used and then disposed. It becomes easier to justify sending thousands and thousands of soldiers off to a foreign country to fight and die for the pride and hubris of their political leaders.
As we continue through this Respect Life Month and prepare for elections, may we recommit ourselves to our principles to cherish life as a special gift from God, and work to bring that culture of life into our world so that every individual has the opportunity to love and be loved as God intends.
Fr. Timothy Gapinski