Kia ora koutou whānau Katorika
Respect Life Sunday 2020 on 11 October invites us to value and protect vulnerable members of our families, communities, society and nation in all we do. Quoting Pope Francis, the theme reminds us: “We are all frail, all equal, all precious”.
Respect Life Sunday falls a week before the New Zealand General Election, in a year in which we face old and new questions about the way we value lives through the Covid-19 pandemic, abortion legislation and the euthanasia referendum.
In the Gospel for Respect Life Sunday, some who are invited to a feast prioritise their farm or business work over the invitation and refuse to come. The King instead fills his hall with all the people he can find, regardless of their status, worth and productive value as judged by society.
The attached Respect Life Sunday resources – prepared by the Catholic Bishops' Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics – remind people of the value of each member of the human family. While our society sometimes shows it considers some lives to be worth more than others, we reject that idea. We are one human family and there is a special place in our family for the most vulnerable, the poor, people experiencing illness or disability, unborn lives and people rejected by society.
With many other election resources arriving in parishes and schools at present, Respect Life Sunday resources focus on some visual messages which reinforce the value of life and are intended to complement, rather than compete with, other resources such as the NZCBC election statement. They are also prepared knowing that due to Covid-19 restrictions some parishes may be able to use resources in Sunday Masses, while others may be connecting with parishes through other means such as newsletters, social media and websites. They can be used in schools, as well as other groups in the community.
Posters: Eight poster images are supplied for parishes to select from. An image can be printed out as an A3 poster, or used as a Powerpoint slide. You can get the posters here in a Powerpoint document to print as needed, or use as a Powerpoint presentation.
Powerpoint with a 3-second delay between slides: Download here
Powerpoint with a 10-second delay between slides: Download here
Images for social media: The eight poster images are also supplied in formats for Facebook and Instagram. The Facebook images are here, as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and 8. The Instagram images are here as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 and 8
Liturgical resources: These include suggestions for Prayer of the Faithful, a prayer that could be used for Congregations to pray together or for family or personal use, and some reflections on the Gospel which may be useful for the preparation of homilies or for people reflecting on the Gospel at home. Download the liturgical material here in a PDF format. It is also published below.
RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY 2020
Valuing the Vulnerable
Suggested prayers for inclusion in Prayer of the Faithful
Please feel free to adapt one of these or to write your own
• Loving God who welcomes everyone to feast at your table, help us to value and protect the vulnerable members of our families, communities, society and nation in all we do.
• Loving Father, we seek wisdom to guide all who will vote in next week’s election, keeping in mind the protection of the most vulnerable who need it the most.
• Almighty God, awaken in our hearts your own love for the most vulnerable members of our society. Recognising our own fragility and vulnerability, help us to protect all people, from before birth to the natural end of our lives, and to eliminate discrimination and exclusion because of illness and disability.
Prayer for use after Communion or at home
Loving God, who calls each one of us to Respect Life,
We recognise at times we are all frail, all equal, all precious,
Each of us at times in need of protection.
We ask you to change hearts to help us value the vulnerable members
Of our families, our communities, our society.
To use our hearts and minds and strength to protect
Lives that others might cast aside.
Loving God, there is room at your banquet table for everyone.
Guide us in your revolution of tenderness
To find room also for each person at our tables and in our hearts.
Reflections on the Gospel for Respect Life Sunday 2020 – 11 October
This may be of use in the preparation of homilies or for people reflecting on the Gospel at home
• In the Gospel for Respect Life Sunday, 11 October 2020, some who are invited to a feast prioritise their farm or business work over the invitation, and refuse to come. The King instead fills his hall with all he can find, regardless of their status, worth and productive value as judged by society.
• The Covid-19 pandemic has brought us again to face ancient questions about the different ways we value life. While the society around us often shows that some lives are worth more than others, we reject that idea. Some of the ways we are seeing that at the moment include commentators who suggest the lives of elderly people, people with disabilities and existing medical conditions, and people who are not part of the paid workforce are not “productive” members of society and therefore more expendable than others in the pandemic.
• New abortion legislation earlier this year weakened protection for life before birth. Next week many of us will be voting in the euthanasia referendum.
• Allowing legalised euthanasia or assisted suicide commits the State to a process whereby the worth of someone’s life will be assessed. It would divide people into two groups: those whose lives are protected and those who are deemed not to be worthy of the same protection.
• The idea that some lives are worth more than others is not the way we look at people through the eyes of faith.
• We are one human family, and there is a special place in our family for the most vulnerable, the poor, people experiencing illness or disability, unborn lives, people rejected by society.
• We reject the thinking that people’s value is based on some external assessment of their productive value. We recognise that each person has intrinsic dignity as we are each made in the image and likeness of God.
• We recognise that our attitudes and values towards some groups in society, eventually rub off and influence our attitudes towards other groups in society. If we regard some lives as worthless and able to be “thrown-away”, it influences our attitudes and behaviour in others. It affects how seriously our message is taken if we are seen as inconsistent or changeable in relation to how we value human life.
• In recognising the intrinsic value of every life, we recognise that each of us at times is frail, vulnerable, poor. Many of us now feel vulnerable; however, each of us is precious. Let us take that insight into our decisions and actions during this extraordinary period of human history.