Evangelium Vitae, the landmark encyclical by Pope St. John Paul II was promulgated twenty-five years ago, March 25, 1995. In his historical encyclical, St. John Paul II, proposed the following as the consequences of the Gospel of Life:
- Human life, as a gift of God, is sacred and inviolable. For this reason, procured abortion and euthanasia are absolutely unacceptable.
- Not only must human life not be taken, but it must be protected with loving concern.
- The meaning of life is found in giving and receiving love, and in this light, human sexuality and procreation reach their true and full significance.
- Love also gives meaning to suffering and death; despite the mystery which surrounds them, they can become saving events.
- Respect for life requires that science and technology should always be at the service of man and his integral development.
- Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment, and in every condition of that person's life. (Evangelium Vitae, n. 81)
These practical consequences build a culture of life. If we believe in the gospel of life, these are the consequences of our faith in Jesus and his gospel of life. When these consequences are habitually practiced, a culture of life is created.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, the chair of the Pro-Life Committee for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) proposed to the Bishops of the United States “Walking with Moms in Need” as a pastoral initiative to help the Catholic community take those consequential steps to bring alive the culture of life for mothers and their families. During a time when the national political discourse and democratic processes are so divisive and demoralizing, we must focus on the practical steps that can empower the disciples of Jesus to bring the gospel into the daily fabric of our families and communities. Our proximity to mothers and families will bring us into a stronger communion with the Blessed Mother Mary and the Incarnation of her Son, Jesus. The incarnation was the practical, saving consequence of the Gospel. By our actions, we can extend its power to save lives and redeem our culture.
The Diocesan Four-Part Plan
The Diocesan Four-Part Plan for Pro-Life Activities includes Education & Formation, Pastoral Care, Prayer & Worship, and Advocacy. During this year, these key activities should focus more intentionally on mothers, marriage, and family in order to promote the culture of life in the domestic church, the fundamental unit of society.
Education & Formation
- We will actively promote the rights of mothers and fathers to direct the sexual education of their children. Public schools are offering sexual education curriculums that contradict the sensible, moral, and human sexual development presented in Catholic moral teachings. Parents have the right to review the curriculum offered in the public schools and choose to direct that the children not participate in those classes (to opt-out of those morally unacceptable classes). We will instruct parents on how to initiate the opt-out alternative in their districts.
- We will offer parents alternative, age-appropriate sexual education (eg. theology of the body) curriculum approved by the Catholic Church. These alternatives will include parish-based catechetical programs as well as training for parents to provide home-based catechetical programs.
- We will promote theology of the body and natural family planning curriculum for adolescents and young adults so that they can learn the God-given dignity and beauty of the human body and human sexuality.
- We will provide more online resources and webinars for families and youth focused on Catholic moral teachings on sexuality.
- The Diocese will develop a wider, stronger parish network for the Gabriel Project. The Gabriel Project has proven to be an effective way for women and families to connect with caring, capable parish teams that can assist them in choosing life for their children.
- We will promote throughout the year the Bishop Gallegos Maternity Home and the Mother Theresa Maternity Home as havens of hope for moms-in-need.
- We will promote throughout the year the quality services of the Sacramento Life Center for moms and dads in need.
Prayer & Worship
- Young Saint Cards will be distributed encouraging prayer for young people so that they are safe and make good life decisions.
- A Prayer for Pregnant Mothers - prayer cards will be made available.
- October is Respect Life Month. It is also the Month in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. The family recitation of the Rosary for the promotion of the Gospel of Life will be promoted during October.
- October is National Domestic Violence Prevention Month. Prayer resources and service resources will be provided to the parishes during October to promote the respect of women at home and in the workplace.
- Include regular petitions for expectant mothers in the Sunday General Intercessions.
- January 22nd, the Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, will be observed as a day of reparation. The faithful will be invited to practice fasting, abstinence, and works of mercy on that day.
- March 25, 2021 is the Feast of the Annunciation. A Blessing of Expectant Mothers will be offered at all Masses in all the parishes of the Diocese.
- Encourage participation in the 40 Days for Life vigils throughout the diocese.
- Preachers will be encouraged to preach on Respect Life Month and the Gospel of Life. It is recommended to do so on Sunday, 9-27-2020.
- Deanery teams will be developed to advocate with their local State legislators against legislation that expands abortion access. AB1973 – requiring health plans to provide abortions without cost sharing – was defeated in committee but will come back.
- There will be an active campaign to defeat Proposition 14 that proposes to provide more funding for embryonic stem cell research.
- Promote the San Francisco Walk for Life.
- Advocacy Resources
A Collaborative Effort
I am grateful to the team of my co-workers who will be working with the parishes to make these steps consequential for moms-in-need, their families, the Catholic community as well as the wider society in which we are to be the leaven for a culture of life. In the coming year, this four-part plan will guide a collaborative effort of three departments, the Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministry, the Office of Family & Faith Formation and the Office of Catholic Charities and Social Concerns.
- Associate Director of Family & Respect Life, Family and Faith Formation
- Jackelin Aguilar, Family and Faith Formation
- John Watkins, Catholic Charities and Social Concerns
- Deacon Kevin Staszkow, Youth and Young Adult Ministry
As we take these consequential steps for living the Gospel of Life, let us together contemplate the Annunciation, the first joyful mystery of the rosary. The Annunciation is the beginning of the Incarnation. It is also the beginning and the culminations of all our hopes that the gospel of the Lord Jesus becomes the life and salvation of all.
Bishop of Sacramento
August 31, 2020