October 4 Is Respect Life Sunday

Dear Colleagues in Catholic Education,

This Sunday, on the Feast of St. Francis, we celebrate life. As St. Francis once said, “God requires that we assist the animals, when they need our help. Each being (human or creature) has the same right of protection.” Celebrating Respect Life Sunday on the Feast of St. Francis, therefore, seems fitting.

Respect Life is a fundamental belief of the Church and the Church’s teaching on this right is consistent. St. John Paul II, in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, quotes the Second Vatican Council:

"Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practice them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator."

Somehow, however, this teaching seems to divide us, more than unite us. People determine “how Catholic” they view themselves and others over the Respect Life issue. It is sad that people use this beautiful teaching of the Church for anything other than to protect and defend life.

As Catholic school educators, we teach children the importance of protecting all life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable, the unborn. We teach that all life is important and deserving of respect, that each life has inherent dignity. We teach that all people are deserving of the right to live and that when we see lives at risk, we must work to protect them and speak out when we see actions that violate the right to live.

Protecting the innocent unborn is of critical importance, as is protecting immigrant families, prisoners who face death row and those who face life threatening poverty. We must understand that we need to protect all life, in order to live our lives as Jesus asks.

Catholic schools teach these things this month and every day. We are committed to all lives, as every human should be protected from threats to their existence, from the moment of their conception to their natural deaths. This is what we teach our students.

Teaching children that all life is precious is part of our mission. We are committed to our mission every day and will always work to promote life.

Yours in Christ,

Kathy Mears
Interim President/CEO
National Catholic Educational Association

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In service of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, NCEA strengthens Catholic school communities by providing professional development, formation, leadership and advocacy.