By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published October 15, 2020
ATLANTA—A few upcoming events will complete the second half of Respect Life Month in the local church.
In October, Catholics nationwide take time to reflect more deeply on the dignity of every human life, from conception until death. This year’s theme is, “The Gospel of Life,” inspired by St. Pope John Paul II’s encyclical of the same name, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
“‘The Gospel of Life’ provides a blueprint for building a culture of life and civilization of love,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
“The important work of transforming our culture begins by allowing the Gospel of Christ to touch and transform our own hearts and the decisions we make,” he said.
“Last November, the U.S. bishops reaffirmed that ‘the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed,’” said Archbishop Naumann.
Abortion being a preeminent priority sparked criticism, explained the archbishop, as many see other threats to life as priorities to address, such as the death penalty, racism and poverty.
“The Holy Father expressed his support for our efforts observing that if we fail to protect life, no other rights matter,” said Archbishop Naumann. “Pope Francis also said that abortion is not primarily a Catholic or even a religious issue, it is first and foremost a human rights issue.”
“There’s an endless amount of issues, especially in our culture today, of where human life and dignity are not upheld rightly,” said Joey Martineck, Respect Life director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Respect Life is one of four ministries in the Office of Life, Dignity and Justice in the Atlanta Archdiocese that deals with pro-life issues. The other ministries are Prison and Jail, Justice and Peace, and Disabilities. The Respect Life ministry focuses on beginning and end-of-life issues, such as abortion and assisted suicide.
Respect Life Month has a narrower focus on abortion and end of life, explained Martineck. It doesn’t mean the other issues are not important, but there’s nothing wrong with focusing on a particular issue for a particular time, he said.
On Oct. 4, recognized as Respect Life Sunday this year, local parishes held Life Chain events, standing alongside the street with signs and praying for an end to abortion.
40 Days for Life, a campaign to end abortion through prayer, fasting and community outreach, continues events thru October. Peaceful groups gather outside of specific locations where abortions are provided across north and central Georgia
The annual White Mass for all medical professionals will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 17, at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kennesaw. The Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv. Mass will be followed by breakfast and discussion, which will end at 10:30 a.m.
A town hall event called, “Vote Catholic” will be Wednesday, Oct. 21, from 7-8:30 p.m. Hosted by St. Brendan the Navigator Church in Cumming, this event will feature six Catholic leaders who will discuss Catholic voting rights and responsibilities using the U.S. bishop’s document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.”
A revamped Respect Life website also has additional information and resources for events and prayers during October for Atlanta Catholics.
For those who want to be more involved, reach out to your parish’s Respect Life group, explained Martineck. If there isn’t one at your parish, the archdiocesan ministry is happy to help get one started, he said.
For more information on Respect Life and Respect Life Month, visit archatl.com/ministries-services/respect-life-ministry/.