Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.

Cardinal George reflects on Respect Life Month

November 2, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, the month of October has been so filled with unique events for our archdiocese that the regular rhythm of the church's year of grace, of the liturgy, has been somewhat obscured in my own consciousness, and perhaps this has been the case for others as well. This column plays catch-up.

October is Respect Life Month, and at no time has it been more important to be aware of the loss of respect for human life that our society has suffered. Federal funding for abortions is now firmly embedded in the government-sponsored exchanges that are part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We are aware of the expulsion and persecution of Christians in the Middle East and parts of Africa, even as the media take special note of the terrible beheadings of journalists in Syria and Iraq.

The cradle of life is the family, and the recent preparatory meeting for the Ordinary Synod of the Family next year has brought to the fore all the questions around sexuality and the meaning of the family that so beset us today. Pope Francis asked that everyone speak freely, and inevitably a certain amount of confusion resulted. It will take a year to sort it out, so life issues will be at the heart of many conversations in the church this coming year. It will be important not to imagine the synod as if it were a legislature, since the church is not a country. The goal of our conversations should be the clarification of the truth about human life and sexuality.

The rosary that the church always encourages us to pray assimilates our life and death to the mysteries of Christ's life and death. As we move from October, the month of the holy rosary, to the month of November, soon to be upon us, we celebrate the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. We contemplate, therefore, the culmination of our life and death in Christ by recalling the lives of his friends and ours, the saints. We are eternal, made to live forever. November helps introduce us to the people with whom, by the grace of God, we'll spend eternity.

Personally, as I make the final preparations to transition to a different life, I join those who see things here more and more in the light of eternity. I had hoped and planned, when I retire, to move to a small handicap accessible apartment in the seminary next to the cathedral. I still hope to be able to do that, but it will depend on how my health stabilizes or doesn't. In the meantime, I will continue living in the archbishop's residence. In that house's small but lovely chapel, I pray for all of you each day. Thank you for your prayers for me.