The Church Promotes the Sanctity of Life
RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle C)
October 6, 2013
Habbakuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Since 1972, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared that the first Sunday of October will be designated as “Respect Life Sunday.” Why? The answer is hopefully obvious. The Catholic Church has always promoted the sanctity of life.
And we can go back into the earliest Church writings, including a passage from the first century which said, “You will not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten.” Then, St. Barnabas in the second century AD said, “You shall love your neighbor more than your own soul. You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall you destroy it after it is born.” St. Basil the Great, in the 300s AD wrote, “Women also who administer drugs to cause abortion, as well as those who take poisons to destroy unborn children are murderesses.” Basil made no distinctions that it was ever okay to administer drugs at any stage to cause abortion. So these early Church Fathers made it very clear that abortion was unequivocally the taking of a life.
Following the increasingly huge numbers of abortions allowed by the Supreme Court through the infamous Wade versus Roe ruling in 1973, that decision has polarized our population because it is a moral issue that gnaws at the heart of mainstream America. When enacted by the US Supreme Court the science of fetology was unable to prove then as it can now that a living, fully human and unique individual exists at the moment of fertilization and continues to grow through various stages of development until death. But the majority decision in Roe v. Wade made a startling admission, declaring that if personhood was ever established, the appellant’s case collapsed, for the fetus’right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. So said Justice Harry Blackmun.
Now, modern science has proved that the unborn child is a human being. Dr. Jerome Lejeune referred to as the Father of Modern Genetics said, “After fertilization has taken place a new human being has come into being. It is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence. Each individual has a very neat beginning at conception.” This very important statement by this expert and certainly backed by other experts, within the pro-life movement has given not only the Church but the world an important initiative to include the pre-born as “persons.” But it has terrified the pro-abortionists because “persons” are protected by a series of God-given rights and constitutional guarantees such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These preborn “persons” have the same rights to life as all Americans!
The Catholic Church proclaims that all human life is sacred and the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. In fact the church’s teaching is the underlying tenet for its social teaching. As Catholics, we believe that every person is precious, that every person is infinitely more important than things and every institution is measured when it threatens or enhances the dignity of the human person.
The Church has made it clear that abortion is by far the most important Catholic social justice issue. In 1988, Pope John Paul II declared in his Apostolic Exhortation titled (Christifideles Laici) when he said: “Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.” Our blessed Pope John Paul II certainly did not mince his words when he said we must reject any false and illusory ideas about the importance of all persons.
And let us not focus upon just the holocaust perpetrated on those lives in the womb because of legislated abortion. What about the impact and the lasting effects on the mothers of these pre-born infant human beings? Let us not forget the effect on the pre-borns’ fathers, when they are aware that the life entrusted to them to pass on was taken in the womb. Certainly, let us never forget God’s infinite mercy for those who repent for the destruction of life. Similarly those who encourage, aid or abet abortion, or who participate in abortion must never forget God’s infinite mercy when they are fully repentant..
There are many injustices against humanity, so why so much attention given to abortion. The answer is simple: BECAUSE IT IS LEGAL. It is so legal that there is money available to enable it to happen, --- and surely it does. Put bluntly, there is funding for murder!!!! Margaret Sanger and subsequently Planned Parenthood have certainly used incredible amounts of public money and monetary gifts for decades. Some of this funding has diminished but has not stopped.
But we can enumerate other crimes against humanity: rape, sex slavery and child abuse. But the system allows for others to speak on behalf of the victimized. An attorney, through the justice system will advocate for the oppressed, the slain and the violated to see that the responsible party is properly punished and justice is served. In other words criminals have the right to an attorney. Who has fought for the rights of the pre-born? Who has sought justice for them? Hopefully all who understand the gift and dignity of life will seek to stop and overturn Roe vs Wade.
Let us not think and equate abortion solely with politics. No, we must treat abortion for what it truly is. It is mass genocide! It is a human rights violation! It is a tragedy! And it is an evil act! It is not just political! But we must apply political pressure to bring this to an end. Sure, it is an issue in other countries too, but first let us apply pressure here at home for the sake of our unborn.
Let us not ignore the need for restoration of human dignity for those who have been placed on death row. We all can cite cases of executions of innocent people and no matter how developed a justice system, it is always susceptible to human failure. These men and women are also precious in the eyes of God. Once again, Pope John Paul II said in his 1995 encyclical letter entitled Evangelium Vitae (the Gospel of Life), “The dignity of human life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done great evil. Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform.” Let us never allow ourselves to put the cost of maintaining inmates on death row ahead of even a chance for rehabilitation even when the courts have ruled life-long incarceration due to the heinousness of the crime committed.
Now we come to the slippery slope of euthanasia, ranging from the problem of defining “terminally ill” to the very real danger of euthanasia becoming a means of health care containment. Advocates for euthanasia state it is not something forced but voluntary. There is also the issue evident from past experiences. Laws can be broadened and expanded once something is declared legal.
Here again, euthanasia is a rejection of the importance and value of human life. We must never mix our beliefs. Killing someone in self-defense, because we are saving one’s own life or someone else’s life is totally different from euthanasia which supports killing an innocent person or persons. As each of us ages, unless euthanasia is absolutely barred, all of us may be told we have to die, because of the cost to others. God forbid that should ever arise. Let us pray that charity and the virtue of caring for one another override those who do not treasure life and the dignity of the person.
This past July, Pope Francis encouraged the world to let the light of God’s glory shine so brightly that everyone may come to recognize the inestimable value of all human life. He said, “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation , made in his own image, destined to live forever and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
St. Timothy tells us the CHURCH is the pillar and bulwark of TRUTH and has always defended the dignity of the person. But the culture of relativism and materialism has had a serious impact on the Church. To quote Fr. Robert Barron, we have become “beige Catholics”, meaning that many of us have lost the truth and appreciation of the great mysteries of our God and Church and an understanding of the dignity of the human person.
Pope Francis tells us whenever human beings fail to live up to this responsibility, whenever we fail to care for creation and for our brothers and sisters, the way is open to destruction and hearts are hardened.
So let us pray for each other so that we center our lives on God’s will. Let us pray fervently to the Holy Spirit to guide our men and women who enact legislation so that all peoples will be protected. Let us pray for and support those who work hard for social justice, especially those here in our own parish, and in our diocese. Amen? Amen!