What does it mean to respect life or be Pro-Life? It's more than just thinking abortion or physician-assisted suicide are bad ideas. It's a firm belief in protecting the dignity of people from conception to natural death.
Respect Life at Home
Pray a pro-life rosary
Click here to find the pro-life rosaries.
Pray 9 Days for Life Novena
9 Days for Life is a novena held mid-January each year for the respect and protection of the dignity of every human life. Each intention is includes a short reflection, suggested actions, and related information. Find out more here.
Respect Life At Our Parish
Respect Life Ministry
Our Respect Life Ministry works to raise awareness of pro-life issues at our parish and promote parish involvement in pro-life events. We’ve recently “rebooted” this ministry and are actively welcoming new members. We meet the second Thursday of the month for a potluck dinner and meeting. Whether you want to stay on top of current legislation, pray the Pro-Life Rosary here or in the community, help with collections that benefit local organizations like Gabriel House and Marisol Health, or just get to know other parishioners who are interested learning more about what it means to respect life as a Catholic, we hope you’ll join us for our next meeting. Please join the Flocknote group “STJG Respect Life Ministry” to connect with this ministry.
Pro-Life Rosary and Breakfast
Join our Respect Life Ministry and others as we gather following daily Mass, which begins at 8:00 am, on the first Wednesday of each month to pray the pro-life rosary. Participants then go out to eat together at a local restaurant.
Respect Life Month
October is Respect Life Month and we participate by collecting various items and donations for our local organizations that help women who decide to keep their babies. These include Alternatives Pregnancy Center, Birthline, and Marisol Health.
40 Days for Life
40 Days for Life is a national, community-based campaign of prayer and fasting that takes place each fall and Lent. Our parish usually commits to praying outside Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains two days during the campaign. Please check the counter in the gathering space for sign-ups. You can learn more about the Denver campaign here.
Respect Life in our community
First Saturday Each Month
"Join the faithful in praying for God’s love, mercy and peace in our hearts and in the world to bring the end to the slaughter and persecution of Christians and for the sanctity of all human life." Join us at 10:00 am every first Saturday, in front of Planned Parenthood at 3846 Pontiac St. in Denver, to pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. To find out more please visit prayerinthesquare.com
A Prayer in the Square Group also meets at St. Joan of Arc at 8:00 am.
Respect Life Radio
Airs weekly on 1060 AM at 10:00 am on Thursdays and 2:30 pm on Saturdays or here.
Celebrate Life Rally and March
Held each January in downtown Denver.
Beacon of Hope Gala
The annual gala, which is moving to Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora, is held each January and raises funds to support Marisol Women’s Services. The event includes Mass, programming, and dinner. Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served while guest roam the Marketplace and live auction. Young adults (ages 21-30) can also attend the Young Professional Lounge. Find out more here. Save the date for 2020: Saturday, January 25th!
Annual Marisol Tea
Don’t miss out on the wine pull, jewelry jumble, and silent auction all while rocking your best tea hat. There will be a prize for best hat! Tickets are on sale now.
Colorado Respect Life Resources
Alternatives Pregnancy Center
pregnancy related crises and alternatives to abortion
Bella Natural Women's Care and Family Wellness
obstetrics, gynecology, infertility and contributing health issues
Birthline of Colorado
Couple to Couple League
natural fertility educators
Divine Mercy Supportive Care
Catholic hospice care
Dominican Home Health Agency
720-459-8783 (Jefferson County)
Julia Greeley House
home for women
home for pregnant women and single women with children
Respect Life Office
for the Archdiocese of Denver
Catholics and Life Issues FAQ
Why do we believe in respecting life?
The short answer is the fifth commandment: "Thou shall not kill." It's one of the first things we learn in the Bible, when Cain murders his brother Abel in the book of Genesis. Most people can agree that murder is bad, but in our modern society we don't always agree on what counts as murder or when a person becomes a person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being" (2258). God doesn't create a person at birth; He creates us at the moment of conception. And we don't stop being God's creation if we have a disability, commit a crime, or develop an incurable disease.
What exactly is the "moment of conception" and why is it important?
Catholics believe a person becomes a person at the moment of conception. During fertilization a sperm cell enters an oocyte (the egg cell) and the DNA from each combines within the cell which is now called a zygote. This is the moment of conception. The embryo at this stage contains its own unique genetic information that is different, not only from its parent's genetic codes, but from every other human that has existed or will ever exist in the future. The zygote hasn't even implanted into the uterine wall yet, but we know that it is a human life, God's special and unique creation, different from all other humans. This is why Catholics believe so strongly about Pro-Life issues and protecting the lives of the unborn.
An important note: In 1965, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists accepted Dr. Bent Boving's definition that pregnancy begins with the implantation of the fertilized ovum. This definition was updated in 1972 to replace the term "fertilized ovum" with "blastocyst," a more correct term that refers to the structure of the embryonic human at about 5-6 days after fertilization where an outer layer of cells has formed around a fluid filled cavity and begins to implant in the uterine wall. This distinction is important because it changes the pharmaceutical classification of certain drugs from abortifacients to birth control. This often makes discussions about “birth control” confusing since people have differing beliefs on when life begins.
What do we believe about abortion and post-abortion aftermath?
There are many passages in the Bible that tell us that life in the womb is precious. Samson's mother was visited by an angel who told her, "As for the son you will conceive and bear, no razor shall touch his head, for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb" (Jgs 13:5). In the Book of Job (31:15), Job says, "Did not He who made me in the womb make him? Did not the same one fashion us before our birth?" We also know that God has a plan for us before our birth. Jeremiah states, "The word of the Lord came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you" (Jer 1:4-5). From its earliest teaching, the Catholic Church has condemned abortions (the purposeful killing of the unborn) and infanticide. The teachings on abortion are unchanged and unchangeable.
After an abortion many people feel guilt or despair, but we don't want them to suffer alone. We believe healing is possible post-abortion. God's mercy is endless. If you are struggling after having an abortion, you can visit the website for Project Rachel, the post-abortion ministry of the Church, or call them at 888-456-HOPE. Project Rachel provides confidential and nonjudgmental assistance. There is also advice there on how to help a friend who has had an abortion.
What do we believe about chastity?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. All Christ's faithful are called to lead a chaste life in keeping with their particular states in life" (2337). It might be surprising to learn that we teach chastity for all people including the married, single, and those living the consecrated life. Chastity is different than celibacy (abstaining from sex). It is about treating yourself and those around you, not as objects, but as gifts. A person is special because they are God's creation, not because they are useful or easily used. We believe true joy comes from God, and therefore the only sexual relationship to experience this joy is one where God is invited into it through a sacramental marriage.
What do we believe about contraception and sterilization?
Over 40 years ago, Pope Paul VI made four predictions about the consequences of contraceptives in a society. He predicted, "a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments." Do you think that would be an accurate way to describe the changes in society since 1968?
When Catholics enter a sacramental marriage, they promise to accept their spouse and all that may come from their marriage. They give themselves fully without exceptions. Using contraceptives or sterilization says, "You can have all of me except my fertility." It creates an unnecessary and harmful barrier between spouses and between the couple and God. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops state on their website, "The Church’s teaching on marital sexuality is an invitation for men and women—an invitation to let God be God, to receive the gift of God’s love and care, and to let this gift inform and transform us, so we may share that love with each other and with the world." It's also important for couples to know that many forms of hormonal birth control stop fertilized embryos from implanting in the uterine wall (versus the common assumption that these forms of birth control simply make fertilization less likely) thus causing parents who didn't even know they had created a new life to abort their child.
What if you and your spouse aren't ready to be parents? That is ok. The decision of when to have children and how many children to have is a sacred responsibility entrusted to married couples by God. He wants husbands and wives to discern His will for their marriage, while remaining open to the creation of life. Contrary to popular belief, Catholics do not use the "rhythm method." Instead we use Natural Family Planning, or NFP. NFP respects the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage by focusing on natural fertility indicators, allowing couples to grow closer as they make fertility choices together. Plus, NFP is as effective, and sometimes more effective, than "modern" contraception. You can learn more about NFP here.
How can we help people heal after a miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death?
Rachel Lewis wrote a wonderful blog post on the different messages out there about the value of an aborted babies' life versus the value of a miscarried babies' life. You can read it here. When we comfort couples who have suffered a miscarriage, it's important that we acknowledge the loss of their child as a full human person. It's important, not only because it reaffirms our Pro-Life beliefs, but also because we want to have a compassionate response to their grief.
Compassion is what grieving couples need from their families and friends; sit with them, pray with them or for them, bring them a meal, help around their house, and participate in any funeral or memorial services the parents have for their child. Names of unborn children can be added to the Book of Life in the Church of the Holy Innocents here, where a candle is always lit for them and a Mass is said monthly in their honor.
All people handle grief differently, but all healing comes from God. We encourage people who have lost a child through miscarriage, stillbirth, or newborn death to pray, even when you may not have words or you are angry.
What do we believe about fertility treatments and in vitro fertilization?
As Catholics, we believe that marriage is both unitive (man and woman becoming "one body" Genesis 2:24) and procreative ("be fertile and multiply" Genesis 1:28) as is seen from the first marriage between Adam and Eve. We believe that these are essential aspects of a marriage and that removing one is harmful to the other. If we separate unity and procreation, then having children is seen as a goal separate from the marriage. It can reduce how parents perceive the dignity of the life of their child as their child is a commodity that they "bought" (I need to have a child and will do whatever it takes to get one vs. I want to work with my spouse in cooperation with God to create a new life). We do believe that all children created through infertility treatments are full human persons, loved by God and with whom God has given a unique and immortal soul; the issue (for us) is if the means of procreation respected the dignity of the child.
We believe that the use of donors (sperm, egg, and embryos) and surrogates violates the integrity of a marriage by adding an additional person into the procreation process. Mothers, fathers, or both end-up relinquishing part of their parental roles to another person. In addition, fertility clinics may disrespect the dignity of the men and women who donate to them by paying more to people with certain characteristics or by damaging the donor's own ability to have children.
We also find artificial insemination to be immoral because it substitutes the union of husband and wife for a procedure that does not reflect the love between the couple. In fact, the father need not be present or even alive for artificial insemination to occur.
The same is true for in vitro fertilization, or IVF, where the act of conception occurs far away from either the mother or the father in a petri dish so technically both parents could have passed away.
What help is there for couples struggling with infertility?
Wanting to have children with someone is an amazing act of love. It shows that you believe that your partner will be a great spouse and parent, that you trust them to be there for your life and lives of your children, and that you value the beliefs and guidance that they can provide to your children. In Catholicism we teach that children are "the supreme gift of marriage" and it can be incredibly painful for couples who experience infertility. Modern reproductive technology offers many options for couples who desire to have children, but as discussed above not all of these methods respect the dignity of human life.
Discovering that you are infertile can be a rollercoaster of emotions. You and your spouse are going to have good days and bad days and days even worse than bad. It can be a lot of stress on your marriage. Look for ways to nurture each other and your marriage. Don't lock yourself away from your friends and family. One out of every five couples in the U.S. struggles with infertility, and you might be surprised who you know who are going through the same struggles that you are. And, most importantly, pray. Pray together, separately, or with friends and family, but pray.
There are fertility treatment options that are respectful to life and the sanctity of marriage, but be sure to do your research. Here in the Denver Area, you can visit Bella Natural Women's Care and Family Wellness where life affirming fertility options are available.
Through prayer and discernment, you and your spouse might discover that you are called to serve as adoptive parents. If you would like to learn more about adopting a child, you can visit Catholic Charities of Denver Adoptive Counseling Service here.
What do we believe about embryonic stem cell research?
If a human embryo is the combined genetic information from an egg and a sperm before implantation into the uterine wall, what is an embryonic stem cell and where do they come from? Most embryonic stem cells com from unused embryos from in vitro fertilization or IVF that are donated to science when the parents have stopped IVF. As you read above, these are embryos where fertilization occurred in a lab instead of inside a woman. They too are the combined genetic information from an egg and a sperm that have yet to implant in a uterus. Implantation usually begins 5-6 days after fertilization during in utero fertilization.
Researches take these pre-implantation embryos and allow the cells to start dividing in culture dishes (petri dishes with a cell growth medium in them), with the hope of collecting embryonic stem cells. Once the cells fill the dish they will cut the cells up and transfer each section to a new culture dish so more cells can grow. They'll do this over and over for at least six months to make sure they have pure embryonic stem cells. Since we believe that life begins at the moment of conception, we understand that this is a human life enduring this process and therefore do not support embryonic stem cell research. The right for a human to not be subjected to harmful experimentation without the person's expressed and informed consent is an innate human right confirmed by the Nuremberg Code and many other documents.
What do we believe about capital punishment?
The Catholic response to capital punishment, or the killing of felons carried out by the state in retribution for their crimes, is based on our beliefs about justice and mercy, sin and redemption, good and evil, and our beliefs about the sacredness of all human life. We believe that a society should make every possible effort to protect itself from criminals without ending human life. We also believe that ending another life will not bring healing or consolation to people who have lost loved ones due to criminal acts. It is our hope, in the face of a growing culture of death that Catholics will choose to embrace a culture of life.
What do we believe about euthanasia and suicide?
Colorado legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill people in 2016. In response, the Bishops of Colorado have recently released some information concerning physical-assisted suicide and the sacraments here.
Catholics believe in the dignity of all people from conception to natural death. We believe it is is wrong to take your own life by means of suicide or euthanasia because, whether it seems like it or not, your life has meaning and a purpose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255. Additionally, you can also reach out to a trusted friend, priest or deacon, or mental health professional. Catholic Charities offers counseling services as well. The Denver location's website can be visited by clicking here.
If my loved one committed suicide, can they still have a Catholic funeral?
We're so sorry for your loss. In some cases of suicide (due to situations other than physician-assisted suicide), it is possible for the person to receive a Catholic funeral. Please contact your local pastor or deacon to discuss the situation with them.
What do we believe about refugees and immigration?
You might be surprised to learn that for Catholics issues surrounding refugees and immigration are considered Pro-Life issues. However, since we believe in the dignity of all humans from conception to natural death, policies concerning refugees and immigrants fall within the purview of Pro-Life beliefs. When we consider refugees and immigrants, we should always ask, "does this policy respect the dignity of the people involved?" The same is true for policies concerning the homeless, elderly, or anyone else in need of assistance.
Here in America, the United States Catholic Council of Bishops issued a pastor letter in 2003 entitled, Strangers no Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, which called for reforms to policies that address the causes of migration (like poverty) and the legal process of immigration. You can learn more about Comprehensive Immigration Reform here.
I'm Catholic, but I don't support the Church's teachings on Pro-Life issues.
Thank you for taking the time to read through what Catholics believe about these sometimes difficult issues. Hopefully it was educational and helps you on your faith journey. At the end of the day, being Pro-Life isn't a pick one issue and forget the rest system; it's a deeply held belief concerning every facet of human life. If you are Catholic and struggling with the teachings of the Church, we suggest that you sincerely pray about them. You can also reach out to your local pastor or deacon with questions.