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Since the news about numerous abuse scandals broke this summer, it has been a very difficult time for Catholics in the United States. In response, efforts for increased dialogue have been organized at many different levels: diocesan-wide events, parish meetings, and personal gatherings to talk, pray, share, and—especially important—to listen.
These efforts to listen and be attentive to others who are hurting have reminded me how each one of us can express respect for those we encounter in our daily routines. These events have also led me to reflect on my personal wounds, leading me to realize anew that even in our brokenness we can place ourselves at the service of others. It is an encouraging and beautiful experience to be a messenger of God's love to one another, especially during difficult times.
Inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego, these sentiments are reflected in the 2018-2019 Respect Life theme, "Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent." No matter how unprepared or inadequate we may feel, God's grace can work through us to positively impact the lives around us in ways we may never fully realize. That is why it is helpful to remember that each of us is cherished in God's eyes, and we are created with a great capacity to love and be loved. We must never forget that each of us is chosen by God. Each life has profound purpose and meaning, and each of us has a unique mission in this world. So that we may fulfill this mission, we are sent. Each of us is called to reflect God's love in how we treat others, use our God-given gifts, and help others understand their own dignity and worth.
At a time when there is heightened awareness of the great evils of sexual abuse and abuse of power, God can work through each of us to be messengers of his love as we aid in others' healing. How do we respond to those around us who are hurting? How do we show—in our actions, words, and behavior—that each life is precious, that each life is sacred? Whether or not we personally know someone who has experienced abuse, we can educate ourselves on how to respond in compassionate ways and learn what resources are available in our local area.
During this turbulent time in the Church, let us renew our efforts to respect and cherish the life of each and every person, to listen attentively, and to remind one another of our God-given dignity—including family members, friends, coworkers, and others we may encounter. Let us remember all victims and survivors of abuse and pray for their protection and healing. In the face of such pain and suffering, some may be tempted to doubt their worthiness of being loved, or even the value of their life. Let us always seek, in whatever circumstances people cross our paths, to be messengers of God's love. May we always be ready to offer a life-affirming response to those who may be reaching out or struggling in these difficult times.
Kimberly Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
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