In the United States each year the Month of October is designated as the particular month of the year in which we ought, as Catholics, to focus on the “Life Issues”. Our Christian Catholic faith and our supernatural view of things enable us to recognize human life as a great good, possessing an essential value which nothing can take away.
This essential value of human life applies to each individual human life as well as to humanity as a whole. Human life cannot be reduced or downgraded to its practical utility. There is no such thing as “life unworthy of life”, as the advocates of euthanasia and sterilization of the disabled in the early 20th century claimed.
Each human being, possessing an immortal soul, is a unique, special creation of God and infinitely loved by Him. Every person should be helped to understand this about himself: you are a unique, special creation of God and infinitely loved by Him. You are not a “mistake”. Your essential value does not depend on the circumstances of your origins. You do not lose your value by becoming a “burden” on others.
Yes, we come to this conclusion on the absolute value of each human life as a matter of Christian faith-belief. But that is nothing to apologize for! Its truth is still engraved in every heart, and if we are faithful in bearing witness to it in the “public square”—and do it in the manner of the charity of Christ—then others will recognize it too.
It was Pope John Paul II who framed the contemporary debate in terms of the “Culture of Life” versus the “Culture of Death”. This is an inspired juxtaposition. We can easily be distracted in policy debates by the utilitarian arguments (e.g., having too many disabled people in society is a drain on public resources), or the anti-human philosophical ideas which abound (e.g., in order to preserve the eco-system of the planet, the human presence on the earth must be drastically reduced).
Stewardship of the earth and the organization of society with a just allocation of goods are indeed part of the challenge in building up a Culture of Life, but their claims cannot be allowed to supersede the intrinsic value of each and every human life.
During this Month of October, both from the pulpit and in my Pastor’s Note, I will be emphasizing the “Life Issues”. There is so much “Culture Smog” that it is easy for us to become numbed to what is at stake. The whole spectrum of the Life Issues is vast but I will enumerate some:
- The manipulation of human life at its origins.
- Abortion of unborn children.
- Euthanasia: the deliberate killing of the disabled and the mortally ill before they are naturally dying.
- The Primary Duty of keeping oneself alive.
- Acceptance of natural death.
We come from God and we are going back to God over the course of this brief life’s journey. Let us not fail to recognize the great dignity we have as special creations of God the Heavenly Father.
“The greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
—Mother Teresa of Calcutta