Comprehending 200,000 coronavirus deaths as we enter Respect Life Month

Even those of us who promote the sanctity of each human life in all its stages are not immune to becoming numb when large numbers are quoted. Yes, we mourn the estimated 60 million victims of abortion in the United States since the 1973 Supreme Court decisions, but who can really fathom such a number? Reducing the tragic toll to an annual figure of about 750,000 unborn souls doesn’t provide much better focus.

Perhaps it is best, as we move toward Respect Life Month, to pray for — and act on behalf of — those involved in the one abortion that is taking place as this editorial is read.

Likewise, it is difficult to wrap our minds around the 200,000 victims of the coronavirus in our nation over the last six months. But we are called to try. Maybe we know one or more of the victims, and that personalizes it. All will be missed by loved ones left behind.

The coronavirus is a 2020 Respect Life issue, reminds Father William Miller in our story on page 3. “The pandemic has made many of all ages and circumstances feel a vulnerability and the preciousness of life,” said Father Miller, diocesan vicar for respect life.

The search for a vaccine is certainly a Respect Life issue. In a statement this month, the Catholic Health Association urged that vaccines should be safe and ethically tested; be demonstrated to be scientifically effective; respect human dignity in their development; and be equitably distributed with priority to those at most risk.

During his general audience at the Vatican on Sept. 9, Pope Francis said the common good — and not political or economic gain — should be at the heart of the race to find a vaccine for COVID-19.

This will be a different Respect Life Month with fewer public events. But far from getting a 2020 pass, we need to be more united, more focused, and pray and act with more urgency. — Thomas J. Dermody

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