The call to respect life is everyone’s responsibility

Most Rev. Michael F. Olson

North Texas Catholic


A statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe is seen inside St. Patrick Cathedral. (NTC photo/Ben Torres)

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the apparition of the Virgin Mary, pregnant with the unborn Jesus, to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico. One of the Gospel selections for this feast includes Luke’s account of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth; the event in which the unborn John the Baptist leaps with joy in his mother’s womb at the arrival of the unborn Jesus present with his Mother.

The message of Guadalupe to Juan Diego is simple and relevant to each of us living today, “I am your Mother.” In this message and apparition we also celebrate the arrival of the Gospel and the start of evangelization in the Americas.

It is providential that the first evangelizer to the Americas is the Mother of God, along with the unborn Jesus, because mothers and their unborn children are very vulnerable to a dominant and evil ethic concretized in law through the 1973 Supreme Court decision known as Roe v. Wade. This false ethic elevates an impoverished sense of human freedom over the foundation of the human dignity of each person created in the image and likeness of God. Mothers and their unborn children speak prophetically to each of us today of the Gospel of Life.

The protection of the lives of the unborn is essential to formation in faith and morals of our Catholic people. Previously, attempts to foster this mission were made through a separate office in the diocese and funded exclusively through an annual banquet that has proven to be inadequate to provide for its intended purpose.

This situation and the strong importance of the mission have prompted me, after consultation with those involved in religious formation and pro-life ministry, to initiate the following changes to integrate more completely the respect for human life into the outreach and formation of our people in faith and morals. The services provided up to now through the Office of Respect Life will now be more directly integrated into the full ministry of the Church with better stewardship of resources.

First, Youth for Life, which has previously been a separate project, will now be overseen and directed by the Youth Ministry Office of the diocese. This makes education, awareness, and action regarding the respect for life a crucial and integral part of the faith formation of our young people. Such action and formation will include greater promotion and participation in the annual March for Life, the orchestration of 40 Days for Life, and Lock-ins for Life in our diocesan and parochial ministry with youth.

Secondly, every parish will be encouraged to develop through stewardship a vibrant respect life program of awareness and outreach for women vulnerable to abortion. Each religious education program should include the dignity of the unborn child as part of formation of the authentic social teaching of the Church.

Thirdly, the administration and oversight of the Gabriel Project will be transferred to the direction of Catholic Charities Fort Worth. The Gabriel Project assists unwed mothers with material and spiritual resources and services needed to provide for their children — both born and unborn. This places the Gabriel Project under the competent and trained staff of Catholic Charities Fort Worth to care better for unwed mothers in distress.

As we start 2017, let’s take the opportunity to bring to our own awareness, through prayer, study, and service, the inclusion of the most vulnerable into our shared life as a community and society. Let’s make a sincere effort to let go of selfish individualism and place the needs of our common home before our own private and exclusive desires. This is a fresh start to proclaiming the Gospel of Life in the shadows of the Culture of Death.

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrates the apparition of the Virgin Mary, pregnant with the unborn Jesus, to St. Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico.