Compiled from reports

WASHINGTON – Each year, the U.S. Catholic Church observes October as Respect Life Month, which calls Catholics "to cherish, defend and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between," said the chairman of the bishops' pro-life committee.

For this year's pro-life observance "we become even more aware of the need for messengers of God's love and instruments of his healing" due to the clergy sex abuse crisis and other assaults on human dignity, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said Oct. 3.

As Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "The body of Christ is lacerated," added Cardinal Dolan, who heads USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities.

“At such a time as this, we become even more aware of the need for messengers of God’s love and instruments of His healing,” Cardinal Dolan continued. “We realize again, with renewed urgency, our personal call to help others encounter God’s transforming, life-giving love and to defend the sanctity of every person’s life, at every stage and in every circumstance.”

This year's theme, “Every Life: Cherished, Chosen, Sent," draws on the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego,” the cardinal said. “Mary appeared to him as a pregnant indigenous woman. She ‘sent him with miraculous flowers in his cloak to tell the bishop to build a Church where people could receive her Son and her loving, tender care.’”

“By embracing the mission entrusted to him, St. Juan Diego helped bring Christ's transforming love to cultures gripped by oppression and death," Cardinal Dolan said. "Like St. Juan Diego, let us embrace our daily mission to help others encounter God's transforming, life-giving love.

"We are called and sent to be messengers of God's love, treating one another as cherished and chosen by Him. In doing so, we help build a culture that respects all human life. The Body of Christ needs you. The world needs you," he concluded.