To Be Pro-Lifers: Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, on 5 January 2020, during the diocesan Eucharistic procession, we have declared this year as the Year of Life, especially of human life. The whole year’s activities, especially programmes at the level of parish and institutions and at the grass root level, must now focus on the one most important point: respect, protect, promote and ennoble human life. The Lord and giver of Life should be our foundation and on this firm rock alone we can build our own life and that of others.

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people of Israel to follow the commandment of the Lord who will bring them life: “I call the heaven and the earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deut 30: 19-20). Indeed, to choose life, one must choose God, the giver of life and length of days. Only those who love the Lord our God truly will choose life. Those who love him listen to his voice and obey his words.

Promote the Culture of Life: Every human being struggles with choices between the culture of life and the culture of death. In his famous encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (25 March 1995), Saintly Pope John Paul II wrote these words to explain the eclipse of the sense of God and of man in our times: “when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God’s living and saving presence” (EV 21). Choose God and choose life, and you will find meaning in life.

Threats against Life: We live in a world today which usually promotes that we are owners of our own lives and our bodies and we can use/abuse it as we want. The media and advertisements make a business out of demoralizing the value of life and sexuality. People easily listen to these messages bombarded into them and act upon them as if everything is fine. These messages seem to teach that sex is only for pleasure, and you can use it as and when you want and with whomever you like. Thus, the sacred institution of marriage is dethroned. Fake messages are presented as truth when they propagate that the child in the womb is not a human person, but a part of the body of the woman which she can dispose of as she likes.

Tendencies of anti-life are spreading and many become the enemies of their own life when they consume alcohol, drugs and other life-threatening substances; some even decide to end their life by the extreme steps, euthanasia or suicide. It is really preoccupying that adolescents and even elderly fall victim to suicide in our land. When life threatening situations harass the families, we cannot keep our fingers crossed saying things will change with the passage of time, but we must act effectively to bring solace to our brethren who need our support. Here the role of the pastor, as one who accompanies the families and discerns with them to make the adequate decision, is to be underlined. I urge the pastors to give special importance to do family visits and be with them in their struggles.

Day of Protecting Life against Suicide: At the International level, 10 September is dedicated as the “Day of Protecting Life against Suicide”. Keeping this in mind, Laudato Sì committee of our diocese has proposed that we celebrate this day on 1 March 2020. To emphasize the need of protecting life in every aspect, 21 February 2020, Friday, is to be set aside for adoration and prayer. On 1 March, meaningful liturgy is to be celebrated. Handbills will be distributed to create awareness against suicide. The Laudato Sì committee has also recommended organizing counseling sessions and seminars concerning stress management. Let us join hands to help our brethren suffering under the burden of stress.

World Day of the Sick: On 11 February we celebrate XXVIII World Day of the Sick. Holy Father Francis in his message for the day says that in order to help the suffering brethren, we need to offer human warmth: “What is needed is a personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring, in view of an integral human healing. In experiencing illness, individuals not only feel threatened in their physical integrity, but also in the relational, intellectual, affective and spiritual dimensions of their life. For this reason, in addition to therapy and support, they expect care and attention. In a word, love. At the side of every sick person, there is also a family, which itself suffers and is in need of support and comfort”. As Jesus himself became frail, endured human suffering and received comfort from his Father, he invites us to share in the plan of the Father to offer his compassion and love. Once again the family is put right in front of us so that we become its custodians.

Day of Reparation: On the 21 January, Holy Eucharist was desecrated in the Church of St Francis Assisi, Kengeri, in the Archdiocese of Bangalore. The archdiocese organized the day of reparation as “a day of atonement for the sacrilege” on 24 January 2020. As we have the joyful tradition of conducting Holy Hours on First Fridays, I request that in all the parish churches and chapels, act of atonement and reparation be done on the first Friday or on the first Sunday so that we ask for mercy, compassion and at the same time, peace for us. The prayer taught by the Angel of Peace to the three visionaries at Fatima could also be recited three times being on knees and with deep bow:

“Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences whereby He is offended. And through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners”.

Prayer for the Success of the CBCI Meeting: The Bishops of India will gather in St John’s Medical College premises from 13 to 19 February 2020. I request all the faithful to join in offering prayers for the success of this meeting so that the Bishops take effective decisions for the good of the Church and the society.

Lenten Season: The season of Lent begins on 26 February with the call to repent and to believe. Let this Lenten season be for us a time of grace, a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving that could bring about real conversion of the heart. We have proposed a new method of using envelops to collect the sacrificial offering of our people. CODP has already sent envelops together the little explanation for the same. Pastors are requested to make concerted efforts to instruct the faithful about the change from using lucky coupons to envelops and come to the aid of our poor brethren. What we give to them reaches the good Lord.

In conclusion, whatever we do, let us do it for the glory of the Lord. Our efforts in saving life in myriad ways will bring us great joy. A few themes are suggested in this Internos regarding the programmes for the Year of Life. You are free to add a few more according to the needs of the people so that we train ourselves to be the champions of human life, to be a Pro-Lifers. There are many counsellors, doctors and specialists in our diocese who can help us. The seminars, study sessions and discussions can be organized at the parish and deanery level. Helpline could be created to attend the emergency needs of our people. Let us act now with the utmost desire to protect life and promote its true growth.

I sincerely thank The Secretary for the Commission for Family Life Director, Fr Anil Alfred D’Souza, the Secretary for the Commission for Health Fr Richard Coelho, and the Secretary for the Laudato Sì Committee, Fr Richard D’Souza, the Director of the Counseling Centre, Fr Arun Lobo and all those involved in the planning and execution of the activities of this Year of Life.


+Peter Paul Saldanha
Bishop of Mangalore