Hope in the Lord — Using Uber and Respect Life Month

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz

So I finally used Uber. I was in Newark, N.J., for my grandnephew’s wedding and actually used it five times in one weekend. The cost is reasonable, and I found the conversations with my drivers to be engaging.

I was wearing a Roman collar and so was not surprised when one driver asked my thoughts on advice that he should offer a friend with an unplanned pregnancy. All her other friends were telling her to end the life in her womb.

I did all I could to put into practice the four C’s that I so often preach when it comes to respecting human life — courage, compassion, civility and calm — as I offered my reflections on how he might help his friend. I pray that our conversation helped make this driver into a true ambassador for life. I will likely never know the outcome.

You can imagine my surprise when I got on the plane and began to read this year’s Respect Life Month packet. The packet, prepared annually by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro Life Committee, provides new themes and short brochures each year about very specific topics. One of them read: “What to do when a friend is considering abortion.”

This and the other five companion topics are very timely, and the other brochures deal with equally engaging topics. These include: “How to build a Culture of Life,” “Q & A on the Death Penalty,” “Top Reasons to Oppose Assisted Suicide,” “Considerations for Our Earthly Passing” and “Understanding Conscience.”

One packet is sent to each parish, and info can be found online at https://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/respect-life-program/2017/respect-life-digital-resources.cfm.

A year ago, more than 200 leaders discussed a variety of topics related to respecting human life during our first Life Conference.  This experience was compelling.

In my keynote, I presented three themes:

 First, bring your passion for life with you. Each of us has in our lives some experiences that form our passion. Many of you know how my brother George, born with Down syndrome, influenced my passion to respect and defend life. Without the passion in our hearts, we will never be ambassadors for life.

 Second, we are called to deepen our understanding of Catholic social teaching rather than pick and choose our favorite tenets. The annual packet for October’s Respect Life Month can help us to expand and deepen that understanding. 

 Third, and this brings us to this year’s theme, we are called to go in mission and act — be ambassadors or, as Pope Francis often says, missionary disciples of Jesus for life.

The theme for this year is “Be Not Afraid.” The Scripture verse from Matthew 28:20 is “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Recall the powerful scene at the end of the Gospel according to St. Matthew — called the “Great Commission” — when Jesus sends forth the apostles to preach, teach and baptize all nations. He concludes with the assuring words, “I am with you always!”

On Sept. 27, we were invited on a special journey by Pope Francis. His call, entitled “Share the Journey,” involves a two-year emphasis on walking in the shoes of the more than 65 million immigrants and refugees throughout the world. To find out more about this important movement, see my video at www.archlou.org/days-of-dignity.

The urgent need to respect human life in all contexts and to be a missionary who acts on this respect, will be part of our archdiocesan Days of Human Dignity campaign, which will launch in January. 

October’s Respect Life month is not just a time to read and learn but also a time to go forth and act.  Hearing the echo of Jesus from the final verses of St. Matthew’s Gospel, we embrace the grace to act and stay alert. 

Who knew that an Uber ride might be that occasion for courage, compassion, civility and calm in order to help another person embrace a respect for human life?

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