Cardinal Rigali Urges Respect for Human Life

Cardinal Rigali's Message for Respect Life Sunday
Build a Culture of Life, Oppose 'Freedom of Choice' Act

Read the whole statement for Respect Life Sunday

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2008 - In a statement to mark Respect Life Sunday, October 5, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia urged Catholics "to help build a culture in which every human life without exception is respected and defended."

"Let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance," he said.

Cardinal Rigali chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

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Cardinal Rigali cited encouraging trends that "most Americans favor banning all abortion or permitting it only in very rare cases," and that the U.S. abortion rate declined 26 percent between 1989 and 2004, with a 58 percent decline among girls under 18. He also addressed the threat posed by "FOCA," a federal "Freedom of Choice Act" which, he said, "if enacted, would obliterate virtually all the gains of the past 35 years and cause the abortion rate to skyrocket."

"We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America," Cardinal Rigali said.

He hailed therapeutic successes using adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood.

"The Catholic Church strongly supports promising and ethically sound stem cell research - and strongly opposes killing week-old human embryos, or human beings at any stage, to extract their stem cells," he said.

Cardinal Rigali also noted the continuing need to protect vulnerable patients at the end of life. Legalizing physician-assisted suicide, as proposed in a Washington State ballot initiative this November, would "betray the ideal of America as a compassionate society honoring the inherent worth of every human being."

The Respect Life program, begun in 1972, stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year's theme is "Hope and Trust in Life!"

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