By Vatican News staff writer
The annual celebration of the Day for Life is dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning of human life at every stage and in every condition.
In a message released ahead of the annual observance, Bishop John Sherrington, lead Bishop for Life issues for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBEW), draws attention to the fragility of life and the reality of death brought to the fore by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the debate surrounding ‘assisted suicide’ and its legalization in the country.
This year, in England and Wales, the Day for Life will be celebrated on Sunday 20 under the theme, “Caring for the sick and dying.”
Bishop Sherrington highlighted that the Day for Life, inaugurated by Pope St. John Paul II, “presents an opportunity to pray for the gift of life from conception to natural death, to raise awareness of the precious gift of life, and to support the work of protecting life in its most vulnerable stages.”
Situating this in the context of the ongoing health crisis, the Bishop noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the fragility of life and the reality of death.
“In the UK alone, more than 126,000 people have died from Covid-19,” he said.
However, in the face of such suffering and death, the Bishop points to the “extraordinary dedication of healthcare professionals and their loving care for the sick and dying,” as well as the sacrifices people made for the greater good during the pandemic.
These acts, he said, “are a powerful testimony to the fundamental dignity of the human person and to the respect owed to each life, particularly through proper care and love in the last moments of life.”
“Against this backdrop of loving care, we are now faced with the very real threat of the legalization of ‘assisted suicide’ in our country,” said Bishop Sherrington.
He recalled a current Private Members Bill in the House of Lords on the so-called “Assisted Dying” and expressed concern that it is “only a matter of time before the issue is back in the House of Commons.”
“It is not a question of ‘if’ this challenge will come, it is now a question of ‘when’?” he said.
Bishop Sherrington stressed that the theme for the Day for Life this year focuses on assisted suicide and the respect owed to life. He also informed the faithful about online resources available to inform them about the threat to life and Catholic response about it.
Day for Life collection
Every year, a collection is done to raise funds to support efforts in promoting and protecting life from conception until its natural death. However, in 2020, there was no collection due to the pandemic and funds are very much depleted while “the threats to life have never been greater.”
The proceeds from the annual Day of Life collection to be held in parishes in England Wales assist the work of organizations who raise awareness, engage in parliamentary work and pastoral outreach.