The annual Respect Life Sunday event promoted each October by the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand will be renamed Support Life Sunday. This is to better reflect the active work Catholics need to do to help people facing significant life decisions.
The country’s Catholic bishops have approved the change in name and emphasis with a call for the faithful to show their love for life in deeds as well as words.
Support Life Sunday this year is Sunday 10 October. Its theme will be Honouring and Supporting Health Carers.
Bishop of Hamilton Stephen Lowe, the Secretary of the NZ Catholic Bishops
Conference, says the term “respect life” can seem passive.
“Support Life reminds us that we are all called to both uphold the dignity of all life and be active in the practical work needed to support people facing significant life decisions,” said Bishop Lowe.
“Many Catholics are uneasy with the recent legislative changes regarding euthanasia and abortion. Coupled with the continuing threat to life posed by Covid-19, we are being told people want new ways to respond to threats to life.
“The change of name will come with an explanation that the Catholic focus needs to move beyond political debate or legal argument and extend to active, practical support for people facing a range of life challenges at the beginning of life, throughout life, and at the end of life.”
The day is formally the Day of Prayer to Support Life. Bishop Lowe said the bishops’ Nathaniel Centre for Bioethics will, as in past years, prepare a wide range of parish resources for it. The resources will give examples of how Catholics can work more actively to support people’s lives, especially in healthcare.
“This year’s theme of supporting and honouring health carers is timely and echoes the frequent acknowledgements that Pope Francis gives to carers of all kinds, but especially health care workers, in the context of the pandemic,” said Bishop Lowe.