Reflections during “Respect Life Month”

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

In the midst of “Respect Life Month,” so designated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I have been reflecting on the various events that I have been able to be a part of this month. At this very moment I am on the way to the Fall meeting of the California Catholic Conference where one of the items on the agenda is the “Whole Person Task Force.” This task force, with the help of Dr. Ira Byock, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, Bishop Stephen Blaire and others in the state, are seeking to strengthen our palliative care throughout our dioceses, so those with chronic illnesses and others who are in the last stages of life will not be forced into a choice of physician-assisted suicide.

I can reflect on the generosity and witness of care and love that was so evident this past Friday night, when around 550 folks were present for the “Earthquake Relief Dinner” for the village of Amatrice in Italy that was decimated in an August earthquake.

One of the most profound experiences that I had recently, as a living example of the “Gospel of Life,” was the annual celebration of the “Misa por los Discapacidades,” held at Our Lady of the Pillar in Santa Ana. There, in an overflowing Church, the presence of so many families who lovingly care for many handicapped children–some severely so– are an eloquent witness of the value human life was given. This is quite the contrast to the gruesome specter of the sale of fetal body parts that we have witnessed in this past year.

All of these are reflected in the words of Cardinal Timothy Dolan when he reflects (quoting “Amoris Laetitia”): “From each tiny child waiting to be born, to individuals nearing death, all are precious and deserve our care and protection.”

Especially this month, thank you to all who live the Gospel of Life in so many ways.

Gratefully yours in Christ…

Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange