"Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who is made of flesh, is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church."
Life Matters

Our Mission


The Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockford was established to fulfill the objectives of the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The office is under the direction of the Bishop of Rockford, the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities of National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Conference of Illinois. The Office is administered by a Diocesan Director appointed by and responsible to the Bishop.

The Respect Life Office networks with other Diocesan Offices including, but not limited to, Catholic Charities (specifically adoption and crisis pregnancy counseling services), the Family Life Office, Catholic Education Office, Campus Ministry, the St. Francis Office for Persons with Disabilities and the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. Additional networking activities include community and lay organizations as well as other Diocesan Respect Life offices across the nation.

The Respect Life Office sponsors spiritual, pastoral care, educational, and public policy events related to pro-life issues. The Office condemns all acts of violence against persons or property and requests that all members of the diocesan pro-life effort work in cooperation with the goals and policies of the Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities. No event is endorsed by this Office without official notification of approval from the Bishop or the Director of the Respect Life Office.

The Director of the Diocesan Respect Life Office cannot possibly meet all the spiritual, pastoral care, educational, and public policy demands of the diocese. Work and responsibility must be shared with others including clergy, religious and the people of God within our parishes throughout the Diocese. Only then can we, with God's help, secure a consistent ethic of life in this nation.

The Gospel of life is for the whole of human society. To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it assets values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.

There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person's dignity and without respect for his or her rights. Nor can there be true peace unless life is defended and promoted. As Paul VI pointed out: "Every crime against life is an attack on peace, especially if it strikes at the moral conduct of people...But where human rights are truly professed and publicly recognized and defended, peace becomes the joyful and operative climate of life in society."

The "people of life" rejoices in being able to share its commitment with so many others. Thus may the "people for life" constantly grow in number and may a new culture of love and solidarity develop for the true good of the whole of human society.
A Message From...

The Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, Bishop of Rockford

The Most Rev. Thomas G. Doran, Bishop of Rockford
It has been twenty-seven years since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its rulings, Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton, which legalized abortion for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy. As a result of these rulings, an estimated 38 million pre-born babies have been destroyed by abortion and untold millions of mothers, fathers, grandparents, and siblings are suffering from the aftermath of those abortions.

Sadly, a recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute-an affiliate of Planned Parenthood Federation of America-reported that 31% of women having abortions describe themselves as Catholic. In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that no constitutional prohibition against a competent, terminally ill patient committing suicide with the aid of a physician could be found in the Constitution.

As a result, each state now may decide whether or not to legalize physician assisted suicide. While Oregon is the only state so far to legalize this illicit act, debate on the issue is taking place in other state legislatures, including Illinois.

Many of our people worry about factors encompassing modern medical technology and end of life decisions and think that assisted suicide and in some cases, euthanasia, must be available to them and their loved ones. The mainstream media and others have frightened them needlessly to the point where they do not understand that there are positive, life-affirming options available to the terminally ill and dying.

It is abundantly clear that we must step up our efforts to prevent the actual or threatened assaults on the dignity of each human life from fertilization to natural death. This is especially true for the great multitude of the weak and defenseless among us.

As the Bishop of the Diocese of Rockford, I pledge my full support for the mission of the Respect Life Office and its activities designed to promote the respect for life at all its stages.


Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI
Paul VI had already recognized and drawn attention to the global dimension of the social question. Following his lead, we need to affirm today that the social question has become a radically anthropological question, in the sense that it concerns not just how life is conceived but also how it is manipulated, as bio-technology places it increasingly under man's control. In vitro fertilization, embryo research, the possibility of manufacturing clones and human hybrids: all this is now emerging and being promoted in today's highly disillusioned culture, which believes it has mastered every mystery, because the origin of life is now within our grasp.

Here we see the clearest expression of technology's supremacy. In this type of culture, the conscience is simply invited to take note of technological possibilities. Yet we must not underestimate the disturbing scenarios that threaten our future, or the powerful new instruments that the "culture of death" has at its disposal. To the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion we may well have to add in the future - indeed it is already surreptiously present - the systematic eugenic programming of births.

At the other end of the spectrum, a pro-euthanasia mindset is making inroads as an equally damaging assertion of control over life that under certain circumstances is deemed no longer worth living. Underlying these scenarios are cultural viewpoints that deny human dignity. These practices in turn foster a materialistic and mechanistic understanding of human life. Who could measure the negative effects of this kind of mentality for development? How can we be surprised by the indifference shown towards situations of human degradation, when such indifference extends even to our attitude towards what is and is not human?

What is astonishing is the arbitrary and selective determination of what to put forward today as worthy of respect. Insignificant matters are considered shocking, yet unprecedented injustices seem to be widely tolerated. While the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human. God reveals man to himself; reason and faith work hand in hand to demonstrate to us what is good, provided we want to see it; the natural law, in which creative Reason shines forth, reveals our greatness, but also our wretchedness insofar as we fail to recognize the call to moral truth.

"In the course of my intellectual life I experienced very acutely the problem of whether it isn't actually presumptuous to say that we can know the truth - in the face of all our limitations. I also asked myself to what extent it might not be better to suppress this category. In pursuing this question, however, I was able to observe and also to grasp that relinquishing truth doesn't solve anything but, on the contrary, leads to the tyranny of caprice. In that case, the only thing that can remain is really what we decide on and can replace at will. Man is degraded if he can't know truth, if everything, in the final analysis, is just the product of an individual or collective decision.

In this way it became clear to me how important it is that we don't lose the concept of truth, in spite of the menaces and perils that it doubtless carries with it. It has to remain as a central category. As a demand on us that doesn't give us rights but requires, on the contrary, our humility and our obedience and can lead us to the common path."