The “Respect Life Office” of the Diocese has a new name: The Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics. What is the reason for this change?
Lisa Honkanen, M.D., the new Director of the Office, explained the reason for the change of name: “With a renewed dedication to meet the increasingly complex challenges of daily life in which Catholic moral teaching clashes with the culture and scientific progress, the ‘Respect Life Office’ is likewise undergoing a revitalization that is best reflected by a new name, ‘The Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics.’ In this name, we hope to convey a renewed vigor and expanded breadth of our mission; one that goes beyond stating a directive to give direction.
The Office of Human Life, Family and Bioethics enunciates and promotes the principle that human life, at all stages from natural conception to natural death, is a gift from God, worthy of respect and protection. Each of the three terms used in the new name has special meaning and relevance for the work of the Office.
Defending and protecting all phases of human life through prayer, concrete support services, legal advocacy and education efforts will remain the primary focus of the Office. However, in a world where the very concept of “personhood” seeks to be redefined, we emphasize human life because we are created in the image and likeness of God and in this we receive His most precious gift.
Pope St. John Paul called the family the “Sanctuary of Life.” The cultural assaults on this most important unit that reflects God’s infinite love for us are an attack on life itself. Therefore, we are called to promote the good of the family through a firm understanding of traditional marriage, a universal call to chastity as befits one’s station in life, and healing the wounds of sexual sin, disordered identity and relations to the greater community including parental responsibility.
To meet the increasingly complex challenges we face when Catholic moral teaching clashes with the culture and scientific advancement, the Office will have a significantly expanded emphasis on applying Catholic bioethics. It is appropriate that our title communicate this. Most specifically, in nurturing a close relationship with the National Catholic Bioethics Center, we hope to build a strong foundation of Catholic moral teaching throughout the Diocese – in our parishes, our health care system and most especially in our youth who represent the future of our Church.