UP Catholic 11 17 2017 E Edition Page 4

4 November 17, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org I n the Gospel of John, Jesus tells the disciples to love one anoth- er as I have loved you (13:34). The Catholic Church calls each person to this kind of life, treating all people with love. In fact, the Churchs commitment to respecting life from the womb to the tomb embodies this message, because all people have value and deserve love, regardless of their age, actions, or state in life. Through its various ministries and people of faith, the Church does not solely advocate this teaching; it lives it, in many powerful ways. When single mothers or parents are struggling with an unexpected preg- nancyfacing additional challenges such as a poor prenatal diagnosis, inancial struggles, or relationship issuesmany emotions rise to the surface. Fear, anxiousness, sadness, and anger can all play a role in deter- mining the individual or couples next steps. Regrettably, for some, abortion appears to be the quickest answer. Catholics pray with and for these individuals, also directing them to pregnancy help centers and parenting resources, facilitating or participating in an adoption and, sometimes most importantly, reminding women they are not alone. Several initiatives in Michigan recognize the dignity of every mother and baby. The Michigan Pregnan- cy and Parenting Support Services Program, for example, helps women and children by providing pregnancy counseling, prenatal health informa- tion, parenting classes, and material support such as clothing, diapers, and formula. Michigan has partnered with Real Alternatives for several years to provide these services across 40 counties, resulting in approximately 20,000 client visits. Michigan Cath- olic Conference advocated for this policy in recent budget cycles, thereby allowing Catholic ministries to help provide support and care. This policy, along with the work of various pro- life organizations across the state, has helped Michigan witness a nearly 3 percent decrease in abortions since 2015. When women - and men - struggle after an abortion, physically, spiri- tually, and emotionally, the Catho- lic Church offers opportunities for hope and recovery. Project Rachel, for example, facilitates healing after abortion through pastoral counseling, support groups, retreats, and referrals to licensed mental health profession- als. Rachels Vineyard, another criti- cal ministry for those suffering after an abortion, allows for time to explore painful emotions through weekend retreats. More than ever, it is imper- ative to spread the word about these ministries, as state statistics indicate that over the past 30 years, the per- centage of women who have had mul- tiple abortions has risen almost ten percent (Michigan DHHS, Induced Abortions Report, 1982-2016). In addition to post-abortive coun- seling, the Church is present, like a mother, offering compassionate and life-affirming care to those at the end of their lives. Within the setting of hospice or palliative care, patients are provid- ed opportunities to spend time with loved ones as they transi- tion toward a natural death. These oppor- tunities promote the truth that every life is deserving of respect, regardless of ones independence or abilities. Unfortunately, these qualities are often the aspects that determine ones value in todays culture. When individuals struggle to care for themselves on their own or to main- tain what society deems a life worth living, dangerous alternatives are proposed, such as physician assisted suicide. This destructive solution to a complex matter presents numerous dangers to patients and weakens pro- tections for human life overall. Re- search has indicated those who con- sider physician assisted suicide are often lonely and depressed, desiring to have loved ones around for their final moments. Others do not want to consider themselves a burden to family members, oftentimes realizing that human sympathy, compassion, and love is the missing ingredient. Whether the Catholic Church is serving the unborn or the terminally ill, the poor or the immigrant, it is a critical presence for those in need within Michigan communities. The Church offers a radically different message than that of society about individual worth, welcoming all with warmth, compassion, and assistance. While at times the message is chal- lenging, every day offers an oppor- tunity for the Church and its people to love one another as Jesus first loved the world. The Word from Lansing is a regu- lar column for Catholic news outlets and is written by Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) President and CEO Paul A. Long. Michigan Cath- olic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state. Marquette 906-225-0191 1400 Wright Street Escanaba 906-786-4685 Hwy. M-35 Mention this Ad and receive 10% Discount on all Markers & Headstones. Promoting a respect for life THE WORD FROM LANSING Paul A. Long WHETHER THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS SERVING THE UNBORN OR THE TERMINALLY ILL, THE POOR OR THE IMMIGRANT, IT IS A CRITICAL PRESENCE FOR THOSE IN NEED WITHIN MICHIGAN COMMUNITIES. Prayer for the Unborn H eavenly Father, you created us in your own image and likeness. You desire that not even the least among us should perish. In your love, protect those little ones whom you have given the gift of life. Amen.

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