Using the occasion of the U.S. Bishop’s National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, I am announcing that I will place the Diocese of Tyler’s efforts to promote the sacredness of human life under the new title of “Sanctity of Life” and will be expanding the ministry to include a wider range of groups in the diocese.
I will be bringing together several apostolates that are already established to each be a piece in a mosaic more consciously witnessing to the sanctity of life. This effort will include groups and ministries like Catholic Charities, our prison ministry, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Knights of Columbus, the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s Gabriel Project, the permanent diaconate, and all of our pro-life efforts.
At the first East Texas Sanctity of Life Banquet last October, I reflected on the sacredness of human life in all stages and circumstances. This event brought attention to the many threats against the sacred dignity of the individual person’s life and conscience and I called on the Church in East Texas must do more to witness the Gospel of Life.
In changing the name of the diocesan efforts from “Respect Life” to “Sanctity of Life,” I hope to promote closer collaboration between those involved in Church apostolates that specifically encourage the goodness and inviolability of every human life.
As we remember the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s tragic Roe vs. Wade decision, I am even more convinced that recognizing the concept of Sanctity of Life is fundamental for our great nation. Our Founding Fathers believed it was self-evident that our Creator endowed each person with unalienable rights. If there was any doubt in 1972 that an unborn child was human person, scientific study of DNA and ultrasound imaging show clearly each child is a unique human being. We join with many believers and unbelievers alike who recognize this right given to the unborn by the Creator. We pray that the fundamental right to life will be recognized by our society and protected in law and in fact.
There was a point in our nation’s history where slavery was judged by the Supreme Court to be a protected right. Please join me in prayer that we will soon reach a point that abortion, like slavery, will be recognized as an evil that is fundamentally wrong.
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland was named the fourth bishop of Tyler in September of 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to being named bishop, he served a number of roles in the diocese, including vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor of the Cathedral parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.