This Sunday across Ireland marks the celebration of Day for Life, a day dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage, and in every condition. Day for Life is celebrated each year by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland, and in England & Wales. The theme for this year’s Day for Life is ‘Everything is Connected’.
Printed copies of the bishops’ brief Day for Life pastoral message will be circulated at parish Masses this weekend. The text of the pastoral message is available in English (see below), and in the Irish and Polish languages on www.catholicbishops.ie.
In their pastoral message for 2016, bishops share a reflection from Laudato Si’ the recent encyclical letter from Pope Francis on care for our common home. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis said, ‘Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.’
In their Day for Life pastoral message the bishops say, “When we recognise and grow in wonder that we are all brothers and sisters living in one common home, it will not only affect how we care for the environment, but also how we care for one another and how we welcome and accept those with different needs and abilities, refugees, the elderly, the unborn, the forgotten and the abandoned.”
Commenting on this year’s Day for Life message, Bishop Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin and the Bishops’ Conference Day for Life delegate said, “Laudato Si’ is not just about conserving the environment for its own sake. It is about how we use and share the limited natural resources, which God originally intended for all, including the generations yet to be born. For many in our world today, the management of the environment is a matter of life and death”.
The Day for Life has been celebrated in Ireland since 2001. It was initiated by Saint John Paul II, to encourage the Catholic Church worldwide to promote and celebrate the sacredness of life. In his 1995 Encyclical Letter ‘Evangelium Vitae’ (‘The Gospel of Life’), the late Pope proposed that “a day for life be celebrated each year in every country.” The primary purpose of this day should be “to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church, and in civil society, recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition” (EV #85).
Previous themes for Day for Life pastoral messages include: Proclaiming the Gospel of Life, Cherishing the Evening of Life, Life is for Living:A Reflection on Suicide, Choose Life! and Care for Life: It’s Worth It.
A special web feature is available on www.catholicbishops.ie which includes the text of the bishops’ pastoral message ‘Everything is Connected’ in English, Irish and Polish as well as Day for Life prayers.