Catholic Charities Moving to New Location in St. Louis

February 16, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS – The offices of Catholic Charities – Archdiocese of St. Louis will soon move into the former chancery building of the Archdiocese of St. Louis next to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis at 4445 Lindell Blvd. The mid-century modern building, affectionately known as the “Round House,” will provide Catholic Charities with much needed space for staff, meeting and training rooms.

“Catholic Charities remains committed to serving the City of St. Louis and our entire region,” said Theresa Ruzicka, president of Catholic Charities. “This more functional and prominent location will better support the mission and operations of Catholic Charities of St. Louis and our eight federated agencies as we serve people in need, especially those who are poor and vulnerable.”

The “Round House” was designed by architect Charles P. Guariglia as the main chancery building for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Since its completion in 1961, the building has continually housed archdiocesan ministries and offices, most recently the Catholic Education Office. To make room for Catholic Charities, Catholic Education offices will be moved to the Cardinal Rigali Center in Shrewsbury.

The “Round House” will be vacated by the Catholic Education Office this week. Catholic Charities will move in later this summer, but a final date has not been set.

The building Catholic Charities currently inhabits, the “Monsignor Butler Building,” located at 4532 Lindell Boulevard, after its use as a private residence, was purchased by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and was the first home of the St. Louis Register newspaper. In the 1980's, under Archbishop John L. May, Catholic Charities relocated from its then-offices in the archdiocesan office building at 4140 Lindell Boulevard to the Monsignor Butler Building which was given that name in recognition of Monsignor John J. Butler who was the founding-father of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The archdiocese intends to put the Butler Building on the market after Catholic Charities has moved.

Catholic Charities of St. Louis has been helping people in need since 1912. Organized as a federation of eight agencies, Catholic Charities assists 124,000 people annually in the 11 counties of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Catholic Charities seeks to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and neglect, empower people to make positive, permanent changes and support them to lead self-sufficient, dignified lives.

Annual Catholic Appeal Names Chair and New Council Members for 2016

February 9, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS – Archbishop Robert J. Carlson and Brian Niebrugge, executive director of Stewardship and the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA), recently announced the chair of the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal and welcomed five new members to the ACA Council.

Mr. Christopher J. Schmidt, partner at Bryan Cave, LLP, was appointed by Archbishop Carlson as the chair for the 2016 Annual Catholic Appeal. Mr. Schmidt joined the Council in 2012 and most recently served as vice-chair. He succeeds Mr. Con McGrath who was the 2015 chair.

The new council members appointed by Archbishop Carlson are as follows:

Rev. Gerald J. Blessing, pastor, St. Paul Catholic Church, St. Paul, MO

Mr. Samuel (Fitz) Gordon, senior regional director of development at Washington University

Mrs. Lisa Mooney, parishioner, Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Webster Groves

Mr. Jon Nienas, parishioner, Holy Infant Catholic Church in Ballwin

Mrs. Mary Noetzel, parishioner, Christ the King Catholic Church in University City

The theme of the 2016 ACA is “The Courage to Love” with a fundraising goal of $13.5 million. This spring, Catholics in nearly 200 parishes across the archdiocese will be asked to make pledges to support programs for people of all faith traditions. Spanning 10 counties and the City of St. Louis, these programs assist the homeless and hungry, fund scholarships for students in Catholic schools, and support teachers’ salaries. Resources for pro-life programs, assistance for women and their babies, and family counseling are also made available through the appeal. All of the money raised each year through the Annual Catholic Appeal is distributed to these various ministries, schools, and organizations.

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Forty-Second Annual Catholic Schools Week Begins Sunday

January 28, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Sue Brown
Director of Marketing & Community Relations, Catholic Education Office
Phone: 314.792.7304

ST. LOUIS – The annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week across the country and in the 140 schools of the Archdiocese of St. Louis begins Sunday, January 31. Each school around the archdiocese will hold its own unique celebration, with Masses, open houses, and other activities for the nearly 40,000 students, their families, parishioners, and community members. Through these events, schools focus on the value Catholic education provides to young people and its contributions to our church, our communities and our nation. This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”

Most Catholic elementary schools will host an Open House on Sunday, January 31, or during the week. For a complete list of open houses and additional information about Catholic Schools Week, visit archstl.org/education.

Dr. Kurt Nelson, Superintendent of Catholic Education, will visit at least a dozen schools during the week for special events and meetings. Dr. Nelson will be documenting his travels via twitter at @Dr_KurtNelson. Some notable special events for Catholic Schools Week include:

January 24-30 – More than 1,000 pieces of K-12 student artwork are on display at South County Mall, West County Mall, Chesterfield Mall, Plaza Frontenac, and the Galleria.

January 31-February 6 – K-12 student artwork (different from previous week) will be on display at South County and Chesterfield Malls.

Monday, February 1 – Eighth grade students from North County will celebrate Mass with Bishop Edward Rice at Christ, Light of the Nations Catholic School at 10:00 a.m.

Immaculate Conception Catholic School in Old Monroe will follow the footsteps of St. John Bosco (patron of students) and hold the school’s annual Religion Bee for grades 1-8. Mass at 7:45 a.m. followed by the Bee at 8:45.

Tuesday, February 2 – South City eighth grade students will celebrate Mass with Bishop Edward Rice at St. Cecilia Catholic School at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, February 3 – St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Gildehaus will honor service men and women (police, firefighters, etc.) from the community at Mass at 8:00 a.m. with a reception to follow.

Eighth graders in the West County area will celebrate Mass with Bishop Edward Rice at St. Joseph Catholic School in Manchester at 10:00 a.m.

South City Catholic Schools will host an ice skating party while collecting canned goods and monetary donations to support the St. Vincent De Paul food pantry. The party begins at 4 p.m. at Steinberg Rink in Forest Park.

Thursday, February 4 – South County eighth graders will celebrate Mass with Bishop Edward Rice at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Catholic School at 10:00 a.m.

Friday, February 5 – Good Shepherd (Hillsboro) will hold annual student-organized Mission Carnival, 8:30-10:45 a.m.

This year marks the 42nd anniversary of this annual celebration which began in 1974. Nationwide, about 1.9 million students are currently educated in nearly 6,600 Catholic schools. More information about the national celebration of Catholic Schools Week can be found at ncea.org, or on social media under the hashtag #CSW16.

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Ecumenical Prayer Service Celebrates Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

January 22, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

What: Ecumenical Prayer Service for Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Where: St. Justin Martyr Catholic Parish (11910 Eddie Park Road, Sunset Hills, MO 63126)
When: Sunday, January 24, 2016, 7:00 p.m.
Who: Archbishop Robert Carlson and leaders of several St. Louis-area Christian communities

ST. LOUIS – Archbishop Robert Carlson and leaders of several St. Louis-area Christian communities, including Greek Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, and more, will come together for an Ecumenical Celebration of the Word of God on Sunday, January 24, 2016, at St. Justin Martyr Catholic Parish (11910 Eddie Park Road, Sunset Hills, MO 63126) beginning at 7pm. The service is part of the Archdiocese of St. Louis’ observance of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Rev. Fr. Michael Arbanas of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, will deliver the reflection. Rev. Rodrick Burton of New Northside Church and Pastor David Triggs formerly of New Life Missionary Baptist Church will also participate. Both pastors’ churches were burned in the arsons committed in October 2015.

The theme for the 2016 observance is “Called To Proclaim the Mighty Acts of the Lord.” (cf. 1 Peter 2:9) The theme and text for each year’s observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity are chosen and prepared by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches. The international texts are developed, adapted, and published for use in the United States by the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.

Begun in 1908, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is celebrated each year in cities and towns across the country and around the world. Locally, the Week of Prayer is coordinated through the Archdiocesan Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and by the Archdiocesan Ecumenical Commission.

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Archbishop Carlson and St. Louis Youth Will March for Life on Saturday in St. Louis

January 21, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

St. Louisans unable to travel to Washington will have local opportunities for public pro-life witness

ST. LOUIS - Archbishop Robert Carlson and the Office of Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of St. Louis will hold a special pro-life event on Saturday, January 23, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (4431 Lindell). The event is intended for the youth who were unable to make the trip to Washington, D.C. after the Generation Life pilgrimage was cancelled due to impending severe weather in our nation’s capital.

The event will begin at 2:30 p.m. with programming and music. Archbishop Robert Carlson will then lead a Rosary procession to Planned Parenthood. The event will conclude with a pro-life Mass celebrated by the archbishop at the Cathedral Basilica at 5 p.m. At approximately 4:30 p.m. the attendees will gather on the front steps of the Cathedral for a group photo.

“Even though we are disheartened that we could not march in D.C. this year, Archbishop Carlson and the Office of Youth Ministry invite our youth to pray and march with us this Saturday,” said Tom Lancia, director of the Office of Youth Ministry. “Archbishop Carlson was really looking forward to spending time with the youth this weekend and in light of the recent changes we wanted to make it a priority to have an event in St. Louis. We couldn’t March in D.C., but we will march in STL.”

Other local events that have been planned include Pro-Life Holy Hour of Prayer for young adults, tonight, Thursday, January 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica and a special youth Mass tonight at 7 p.m. at Assumption Parish in Mattese (4725 Mattis Rd, 63128).

More information about Generation Life can be found at genlifestl365.com.

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Statement Regarding Generation Life Pilgrimage and March for Life

January 20, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS - The Catholic Youth Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis has been closely monitoring the severe weather anticipated later this week in Washington, D.C.  The “Generation Life” pilgrimage of more than 2,200 St. Louis area high school teens, adult chaperones, volunteers, and staff was scheduled to attend the 43rd annual March for Life on Friday, January 22.

As the potentially hazardous weather situation in our nation’s capital develops, our main priority is the safety and well-being of the youth in our care. After prayerful consideration of numerous factors and consultation with archdiocesan leadership, the Catholic Youth Apostolate has decided to cancel the Generation Life pilgrimage to Washington, D.C.

As Catholics, we place a high value on the dignity of human life. We will continue to be tireless advocates for the unborn and as pro-life Catholics we must make the safety of our youth, adult chaperones, volunteers, and staff our first priority.

Although our committed youth and adult pilgrims will not be headed to Washington, D.C., several local events are already being discussed to provide the St. Louis area with opportunities to pray for and visibly defend the inviolable right of all human beings which is the right to life.

For information on the various pro-life events taking place in the Archdiocese of St. Louis this week, continue to watch social media as well as archstl.org.

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For more information about Generation Life, visit genlifestl365.com

Thousands of St. Louis Youth to Attend March for Life in Washington

January 19, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

Approximately 3,000 St. Louisans Making the Trek to Nation’s Capital

UPDATE (January 20, 2016): The Generation Life Pilgrimage has been cancelled. For more information, click here.

ST. LOUIS — Despite the anticipated inclement weather, an estimated 3,000 teenagers, young adults, adult chaperones, volunteers, and other pro-life supporters from the St. Louis area will make the pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. for the 43nd annual March for Life on Friday, January 22. The date commemorates the tragic anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which has led to more than 57 million abortions in the United States.

The largest contingent of pilgrims, called “Generation Life,” is organized by the Catholic Youth Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The group totals more than 2,200 high school students, adult chaperones, young adults, seminarians, and staff. The pilgrims will depart on 41 busses from seven different locations around the St. Louis area in the evening of Wednesday, January 20. Media is invited to attend the launch. Please contact the Archdiocese of St. Louis Communications Office for more details.

Separate St. Louis groups totaling approximately 500 youth will attend the Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. Several hundred other St. Louisans are expected to attend by other means.

In total, the roughly 3,000 St. Louisans expected to travel to Washington represent more than 65 parishes and schools in the archdiocese.

Friends, family members, media, and anyone staying in St. Louis can be part of the action on social media by following @GenLifeSTL and using #GenLifeSTL on twitter and Instagram, “liking” the GenLifeSTL facebook page, and on the GenLifeSTL blog, genlifestl365.com.

In addition, several local Catholic parishes will hold prayer services in the area, and the Archdiocese of St. Louis will host a Pro-Life Holy Hour of Prayer for young adults, Thursday, January 21, 7:00 p.m., Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (4431 Lindell).

GenLife participants, or representatives of the archdiocese, can be made available for interviews upon request while in D.C. Members of the archdiocesan Office of Communications staff will be in Washington, D.C. for the duration of the pilgrimage to facilitate media inquiries.

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Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice on Sunday

January 15, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

What: Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice
Where: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (4431 Lindell)
When: Sunday, January 17, 2016, 2:30 p.m.
Who: Archbishop Carlson, celebrant; Rev. Arthur Cavitt, homilist

ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, will celebrate the annual Mass for the Preservation of Peace and Justice at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 17, the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Rev. Arthur Cavitt, Executive Director of the St. Charles Lwanga Center, a Catholic ministry rooted in the African-American community, will deliver the homily. This year marks the archdiocese’s 40th annual commemoration of the birth and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

“We have serious issues in society today that must be addressed,” Father Cavitt said. “Those issues include the recognition of the dignity of all human beings, which is incumbent upon all of us. Acknowledging how we contribute to these issues is a first step towards finding common ground and solving them.”

A reception and awards presentation ceremony for the 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Model of Justice Honorees will take place in Boland Hall after Mass. A complete list of honorees can be found on the website of the St. Louis Review.

Members of the media are invited to attend. For additional information about the event call the St. Charles Lwanga Center at 314-367-7929.

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Annual Memorial Mass Remembers Abortion Victims

January 14, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

Mass at Cathedral Basilica on Saturday Commemorates Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

WHAT: Annual Roe v. Wade Memorial Mass, hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate
WHERE: Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (4431 Lindell)
WHEN: Saturday, January 16, 2016, 9:30 a.m.
WHO: Archbishop Robert Carlson and more than 500 pro-life supporters

ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, will celebrate the annual Roe v. Wade Memorial Mass on Saturday, January 16, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis to commemorate the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s tragic Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973, which legalized abortion in the United States. The Mass is hosted by the Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Mass will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be preceded by a procession of individuals born in every year since 1973, including a woman due with a child in 2016, to represent the more than 57 million children lost due to abortion during these 43 years. A solemn rosary procession to Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Boulevard will follow Mass. More than 500 people are expected to attend.

“We have a rich history of defending the unborn in the Archdiocese of St. Louis,” said Karen Nolkemper, Executive Director of the Respect Life Apostolate. “This annual Mass is an opportunity to join together in prayer as we commemorate the lives lost, give thanks for the lives saved, and re-commit to defending life and transforming our culture.”

Next week, hundreds of thousands of pro-life pilgrims will descend on Washington, D.C. for the 43rd annual March for Life. More than 2,200 students, volunteers, and chaperones from Catholic schools and parishes will depart the St. Louis area on Wednesday, January 20, as part of the annual pilgrimage known as “Generation Life” or “GenLifeSTL." The pilgrimage is organized by the Catholic Youth Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

The Archdiocese of St. Louis was the first in the nation to establish a Respect Life Apostolate (RLA) following the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The purpose of the RLA is to promote the Catholic Church’s teachings on respect for and legal protection of every human life from conception to natural death by coordinating educational, spiritual, pastoral, and public policy advocacy efforts with particular focus on those issues in the culture that threaten life - abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, and unethical advances in scientific technology. In addition to the annual Memorial Mass in January, the RLA hosts its annual convention in October, which is Respect Life Month.

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Catholic Parish to Host Presentation on Groundbreaking Study

January 8, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

Dr. Jason Purnell to address neighborhood health issues at St. Clare in Ellisville

What: Presentation on Groundbreaking Study, “For the Sake of All”
Where: St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church (15642 Clayton Road, Ellisville, MO 63011)
When: Monday, January 11, 2016, 7 p.m.
Who: Dr. Jason Purnell, member of the Peace & Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis

ST. LOUIS – Dr. Jason Purnell, member of the Peace & Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Washington University professor, will present on his groundbreaking study “For the Sake of All” at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church (15642 Clayton Road, Ellisville, MO 63011) on Monday, January 11, 2016. The presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m.

The presentation will address how neighborhood factors such as access to healthy food options, quality schools, clean air, and services and amenities like banks and parks can shape health throughout life. He will also address the fact that policies and informal practices throughout the nation and in our region have divided neighborhoods based on race, social class, or both, which affects the opportunity for all residents to live healthy, productive lives. In addition, he will discuss solutions for investing in quality neighborhoods for all.

“As Catholics, we must address these issues from the perspective of our faith,” said Marie Kenyon, director of the Peace & Justice Commission. “This presentation is a step towards ensuring residents of our area are aware of the inequality found in our region and to remind them that we all have an obligation to ensure every child is raised in a healthy environment.”

In August 2014, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson announced that he was re-establishing a commission on human rights in the Archdiocese of St. Louis with the goal to address societal issues such as poverty, racial tension, and lack of education. In January 2015, St. Louis attorney Marie Kenyon was named director of the newly-established Peace & Justice Commission of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and in May 2015 Archbishop Carlson appointed 27 individuals to serve as members of the Commission.

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Statement From Archbishop Carlson Regarding Flood Relief Assistance

January 7, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact: 
Gabe Jones
Media Relations Specialist
Phone: 314.792.7557

ST. LOUIS – Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis, released the following statement regarding the recent flooding in our region and the on-going response of the Archdiocese of St. Louis:

I have been fervently praying for those suffering due to the recent flooding in our city and state. As our region watched the flood waters rise to record heights, so too did we see the damage, loss, and suffering increase. We mourn for those who lost their lives. We know that many homes full of memories have been destroyed. Photos, heirlooms, and other keepsakes are lost. Businesses were devastated and will need extensive repairs. Yet, we are also thankful for the many homes, businesses, and lives saved through the bravery and dedication of emergency responders and volunteers.

Although the floodwaters have mostly receded, the needs are still very great. But our generosity must be greater. That is why I am directing all parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis to hold a special collection the weekend of January 16-17 to assist in recovery efforts through Catholic Charities. Financial assistance, rather than clothing or food, is the most needed resource at this time.

Catholic Charities of St. Louis is a coordinating organization in the disaster relief assistance effort. The role of Catholic Charities is to assist now with the relocation and other services for those affected by the flood, as well as sustained long-term disaster recovery. We will continue to work closely with all agencies and authorities in the coming days, weeks, and months to help restore lives and livelihoods.

Those most impacted by the flooding will be recovering long after the water has disappeared. It is my pledge that the Catholic Church will continue serving those in the impacted areas until these needs are met. This is our responsibility as Catholics, especially during this Year of Mercy.

Those seeking flood relief assistance should visit a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) in the coming days where representatives from numerous agencies, including Catholic Charities, will be present. Additional information, including information for those looking to volunteer or donate, can be found at ccstl.org.

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The Year of Mercy and the Gospel of Life

On April 11, 2015, Pope Francis declared a Jubilee Year of Mercy in Misericordiae vultusWhen one thinks of mercy, particularly in the context of our Catholic faith, forgiveness and the Sacrament of Confession come to mind. Something deeper, however, is going on. At its core, this Jubilee Year of Mercy focuses us on restoring our dignity as sons and daughters of God; it is intimately connected with the Gospel of Life and its call for a greater respect and defense of human dignity.

In declaring the Jubilee Year, Pope Francis stated, “This Holy Year will bring to the fore the richness of Jesus’ mission echoed in the words of the prophet: to bring a word and gesture of consolation to the poor, to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from who it has been robbed” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 16). Yet, how does a focus on mercy restore human dignity?

Human Dignity and Mercy

Perhaps the clearest connection between the Gospel of Life and the concept of mercy can be found in St. John Paul II’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia, promulgated in 1980. In reflecting on the parable of the Prodigal Son, The Return of the Prodigal Sonhe focuses on the interior disposition of the son who realizes that the greater loss he has suffered was the loss of his status as a son in his father’s house. The loss of the son’s dignity would certainly be warranted under the order of justice for not only squandering his father’s material goods but also by offending his father in his actions. The father, however, is faithful to the love he has in his fatherhood. Love is the well-spring from which the mercy of the father springs. This love causes the father to be concerned about the dignity of his son. Despite the material loss caused by the son, the father sees the greater good to be saved: the son’s humanity. The father is able to rejoice because his greatest concern is of the dignity of the son; he cannot help but continually await his son’s return.

From this reflection, we see that, fundamentally, mercy, rooted in love, restores human dignity. St. John Paul II puts it this way: “Mercy is manifested in its true and proper aspect when it restores to value, promotes and draws good from all the forms of evil existing in the world and in man” (Dives in Misericordia, no. 6). This type of mercy, rather than humiliating or causing uneasiness, restores one to his or her proper dignity. We see the attitude of the father not as one seeking to judge or condemn the prodigal son, however much he may have deserved it; rather, the father is filled with joy. The son is able to appreciate who he is and his actions in the light of truth.

A Divine Dignity

This dignity is also what lies at the center of the Gospel of Life, that is, a profound relationship between human beings and God. The Gospel of Life is about proclaiming the desire of God to be in an everlasting communion with us, granting us a dignity “little less than a god, crowned…with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:6). As St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “Man, as a being, is of no account; he is dust, grass, vanity. But once he is adopted by the God of the universe as a son, he becomes part of the family of that Being, whose excellence and greatness no one can see, hear, or understand. What words, thoughts, or flight of the spirit can praise the superabundance of this grace? Man surpasses his nature: mortal, he becomes immortal; perishable, he becomes imperishable; fleeting, he becomes eternal; human, he becomes divine” (De Beatitudinibus, Oratio VII).

Merciful Like the Father

This call to share in the very life of God is the source of the incomparable dignity and worth of each human person. It is this dignity which we seek to uphold and defend in working to end abortion, prevent euthanasia, and in serving the poor. Every person is created for and designed to exist in an eternal relationship with God. Violations of a person’s dignity inhibit one’s ability to freely live in that communion.

In Evangelium vitae, St. John Paul II points out that, even after Cain slays his brother, God is still merciful to him, protecting and defending him from others wishing to kill him, even those seeking to avenge the death of Abel. He says that “not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this” showing for “the paradoxical mystery of the merciful justice of God” (Evangelium vitae, no. 9). Even in the face of grave sin which ripped away another’s dignity, God remains merciful.

There is a reason why feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful and so forth are called works of mercy: they restore dignity to those from whom it has been taken. As Pope Francis states, “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible.” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 9) These acts, in imitation of Christ, speak of the mercy of the Father and make visible the great love the Father has for each and every one of his children.

Building a Culture of Life is therefore intimately tied with being heralds of mercy. We bring mercy to the unborn child at risk of abortion for they are on “the outermost fringes of society” with no voice. We bring mercy to those impacted by abortion by speaking of the peace and forgiveness found in Christ Jesus. We bring mercy to those sentenced to death, recalling the mercy God had on Cain in Genesis. We bring mercy to those seeking physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia or those who are at risk of being victims by confirming their dignity as sons and daughters of God and sharing in their suffering.

Thus, as Pope Francis calls for the Church to “announce the mercy of God,” it is truly a command to recognize the God-given dignity of every human person and to help them realize it in themselves. To do so may require stepping outside of our comfort zones or breaking down our lens of indifference to see situations from a different perspective. By being “merciful like the Father” in charitable acts towards others, invitations to return to the Sacraments, prayers, and evangelization, may we reveal the love of God for every person.

This article originally appeared on Catholic Stand and is reprinted with permission.

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