New Zealand’s Catholic bishops marked Respect Life Sunday on October 14 with a message to the Catholic community on the preciousness and fragility of life. 

The bishops wrote a letter and provided resources to be shared at Masses during the weekend.

In their letter, they expressed their awareness of the pain and grief felt by those who have gone through the experience of being unable to have a child or dealing with the death of a child, or suffering other losses.

“When grief or loss or regret come between a parent and a child — or the hope for a child — we see human nature itself express her pain and anguish.”

The bishops also wrote: “Today, as shepherds or hēpara, we stand close to those of you who carry the heavy pain and grief of an abortion. Sometimes that anguish, when shared, met with a cold detached judgement. That was wrong. We encourage those of you who need the burden of regret lifted, to share your story, and, in the words of Jesus, ‘find rest for your soul’ (cf. Matt 11:29-30).”

Pope Francis’ call for a “revolution of tenderness” was noted.

“In that spirit, we offer today not explanations or answers but the assurance of listening hearts and humble prayers: for courage, for healing and forgiveness where needed, and for renewed purpose in our lives,” the bishops wrote.

Parishioners were invited to share their stories.

They were also invited to listen to others who have experienced loss in the hope of encountering afresh God’s healing love.

“May we continue to build parishes where doors are open and all are made to feel at home,” the bishops wrote.

Prayers for intercession and a poem was provided among the resources sent to each parish centre.