Pastoral plan for pro-life activites

According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “a wide spectrum of issues touches on the protection of human life and the promotion of human dignity,” including abortion, euthanasia, care for the ill and for the disabled, domestic violence, the death penalty and stem cell research.

   In the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, a Reaffirmation [1985] the USCCB links all these issues under the heading of respect for life because,
“…all issues involving human life are interdependent, a society which destroys human life by abortion under the mantle of the law unavoidably undermines respect life in all other contexts. Likewise, protection in law and practice of unborn human life will benefit all life, not only the lives of the unborn.”      In Living the Gospel of Life, the USCCB states, “…failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of position in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community” (no. 23).

   Each Catholic is called to respect human life, appreciate its value, prevent its violation, and respect, love and protect life in the name of God from conception to natural death. The Pastoral Plan outlines ways Catholics can effectively promote the culture of life in their daily lives through public information and education, pastoral care, public policy and and prayer and worship.

Public information and education
   By working on a local, state, national or regional basis, or through the diocese and the parish, lay persons and volunteers as well as clergy and religious can effectively have an impact on a community by:
Offering education programs that include biblical and theological foundation that life is sacred;
Providing scientific information that indicates the humanity of unborn children;
Educating caregivers in caring for the terminally ill and disabled;
Supporting the Catholic viewpoint for those facing end-of-life issues;
Providing effective, compassionate and morally acceptable solutions for women struggling with pregnancy;
Offering compassionate and effective counseling suggestions for women suffering from the consequences of abortion;
Coordinating conferences and teaching seminars on the Church’s position and teachings regarding euthanasia, capital punishment, domestic violence, destruction of human embryos and assisted suicide.

Pastoral care
   Catholics can provide pastoral care with compassion and dignity by:
Offering of spiritual assistance, education and alternatives to abortion;
Providing prenatal care of pregnant women;
Coordinating of nutritional and pediatric care for children;
Providing emotional support for victims of rape, abuse and violence;
Educating on the subject of chastity and abstinence for youth;
Offering natural family planning programs for married and engaged couples;
Collaborating with private and public agencies to obtain government assistance;
Engaging in Church sponsored health care and social service;
Celebrating of couples on the conception and birth of a child, given that current culture often give negative messages of parenthood;
Offering grief counseling for post-abortive healing and reconciliation;
Caring for those who are chronically ill, disabled or dying and their family members to prevent assisted suicide and euthanasia;
Encouraging health professionals to provide appropriate palliative care;
Coordinating volunteers for local hospice programs;
Visiting nursing homes;
Welcoming persons with disabilities to the church community;
Providing sacraments to inmates and emotional support to families of inmates.

Public policy
   As a collective group of concerned citizens, Catholics have the opportunity to change policy and affect the future by:
Supporting the passage of constitutional amendments to protect the unborn, state laws that restrict the practice of abortion and prohibit government support of abortion, human cloning and research that destroys human embryos;
Lobbying for federal and state legislation to promote effective palliative care for those who are chronically ill or dying;
Supporting efforts to prevent the legalization of euthanasia or assisted suicide;
Coordinating lobbying efforts to end the death penalty;
Informing parishioners of upcoming legislation and organizing letter-writing and postcard campaigns when important votes are expected;
Arranging meetings with elected officials and supporting candidates that protect human life from conception to natural death;
Coordinating efforts with other churches to be a more effective entity.

Prayer and worship
   Prayer has changed hearts and minds.Catholics can eliminate a culture of death and replace it with a culture of life by:
Participating in the sacramental life of the Church;
Sponsoring prayer programs, fasting and paraliturgical programs to encourage Catholics to become private prayers;
Preaching of the dignity of human life;
Agreeing to treat others with compassion and offer them assistance to make life affirming decisions;
Organizing special grief services and prayers for those who have suffered the loss of a child due to miscarriage, abortion or other cause;
Developing or adopting, wherever feasible, a parish-based ministry for pregnant women;
Sponsoring programs of prayer in the parish to pray for mothers of the unborn, for those who are dying, for prisoners and for all those who have been harmed and are in need.

   The Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities includes many more suggestionss. To read the complete plan, visit
www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/pastoral-plan-prolife-activities.cfm.

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