WASHINGTON (CNS) – Pro-life concerns ranging from infertility treatments to sexual trafficking and from population control to the death penalty are part of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Respect Life program for 2010-11.

Materials in English and Spanish, including posters, fliers, liturgy guides, recommended resources, bulletin inserts and artwork, are available to help parishes, organizations and individual Catholics participate in the yearlong program that begins Oct. 3, Respect Life Sunday.

The theme of this year's observance is "The measure of love is to love without measure."

A brochure for this year's program offers vignettes from the experiences of Catholic families dealing with a teen's unexpected pregnancy, an elderly relative's persistent vegetative state and the impending birth of a special-needs child.

"There are no easy answers to challenges like these that families face every day, but there are clear answers, and we know deep down which answers are right and which are wrong," the brochure says. "Without trying to minimize the enormous sacrifices facing each of these families, the question comes down to this: Is it morally permissible to have a member of our family killed to avoid the tremendous personal sacrifice his or her care requires of us? The answer should be obvious: no."

The Respect Life package also specifically includes among pro-life concerns – for the first time since 2006 – opposition to capital punishment. Members of Catholics Against Capital Punishment had asked Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, to include the issue this year.

"We are concerned that by disregarding the issue of the death penalty, ... the pro-life committee may be ignoring the wise counsel offered three decades ago by the U.S. bishops in their historic 1980 statement on capital punishment," the organization said in a Dec. 2 letter to the cardinal. "In it, the bishops affirmed that in voicing their opposition to the death penalty, they sought to remove a 'certain ambiguity' about our church's affirmation of the sanctity of all human life."

In an article for the 2010-11 package, Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., linked the issue of capital punishment to God's divine mercy.

"As we seek a reason to put aside the practice of the death penalty, perhaps the best motive is our desire to imitate God in his mercy toward those for whom Jesus died," he wrote.

In addition to Bishop Finn's article, this year's Respect Life program packet includes articles on:

– "American Youth and the Culture of Life" by graduate students Megan Breen and Samuel Vasquez.

– "Sex Trafficking: The New Slavery" by Diane Bayly of the USCCB's Office of Migration and Refugee Services.

– "Hope for Married Couples Who Want to Have a Child" by Dr. John Bruchalski of the Tepeyac Family Center.

– "Caring for Each Other, Even Unto Death" by Marie Hilliard of the National Catholic Bioethics Center.

– "Make Room for People" by Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute.

– "Losing a Child to Suicide: Trusting in God's Mercy" by Gladys Sweeney of the Institute for the Psychological Sciences.

This year's liturgy guide offers intercessions for life; suggested homily reflections for Respect Life Sunday and Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion; a litany for life; and a prayer, enthronement and novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life program brings church teaching on the value and dignity of human life to the Catholic community and the wider public through education, prayer, service and advocacy.

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Editor's Note: Materials for the 2010-11 Respect Life program may be downloaded at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/2010. They also may be ordered by calling (866) 582-0943 or by faxing orders to (301) 779-8596.

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