WASHINGTON (CNS) — Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley urged Catholics to “share the truth about human life” with the world in his Respect Life Month message.

The cardinal, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said any work on behalf of life must be grounded in “love that seeks to serve those most in need, whatever the personal cost.”

October is annually designated as Respect Life Month by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, with Respect Life Sunday to be observed in parishes Oct. 6.

Invoking Pope Francis’ oft-repeated call to have hope in Christ, Cardinal O’Malley said that opening hearts to the love and mercy of Jesus allows people to see more deeply the “intricate and unique beauty of each person.”

“We must respond to Pope Francis’ call with great urgency,” he said. “Opening our hearts to life in Christ empowers us for loving, merciful action toward others. We must give witness to the Gospel of life and evangelize through our lives.

“We must personally engage others and share the truth about human life. We must continue to show love and mercy, especially with those who have been involved in abortion. All members of the church can bring healing to the world by upholding the beauty of human life and God’s unfailing mercy.”

The message also lamented the loss of more than 55 million lives since abortion became legal following a pair of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1970s and the growing acceptance of physician-assisted suicide. The practice is legal in Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

“These laws pave the way for euthanasia by undermining true respect and care for people with serious illness,” he said.

Cardinal O’Malley also invited Catholics to reflect on how God might be calling them to assist in pro-life efforts, whether by helping parents welcome an unborn child as a “miracle of God’s creation”; visiting the elderly or aiding the sick and suffering; praying and fasting for life; approaching elected officials as advocates for life-affirming policies and laws; or assisting in parish educational efforts.