Social Justice: We are called to defend human life at every stage
By DeKarlos Blackmon
October is Respect Life Month in Catholic parishes across our great nation. This annual observance provides a time to focus on the truth and dignity of the human person.
Watching television, listening to the radio, reading the newspaper and perusing the Internet shows us just how much an increasingly secular society is constantly attempting to compete with our holiness. We consider ourselves a sophisticated society, but often we are left trying to make sense of varying incongruences to the culture of life, such as law enforcement officers assaulting unarmed civilians, a young man opening fire in a place of worship, a man murdering journalists during a live interview, legalized abortion and capital punishment.
In our culture, human life is repeatedly under assault. From the very moment of conception to natural death, life is threatened because our society has lost the true meaning of humanity, respect and basic human dignity. We must never lose sight of the fact that Christ became flesh so that we may know God’s beneficent love (1Jn 4:9) and to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pt1:4). St. John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae explains to us that “it is an absolute imperative to respect, love and promote the life of every brother and sister, in accordance with the requirements of God’s bountiful love in Jesus Christ.” (77)
Each of us was made in the image and likeness of God, and so we must affirm the intrinsic value of human life and the dignity of every human being in a way that transforms the culture of secular society. This priority is not limited to any “particular” human life. Rather, the priority is to affirm the dignity of “every” human life because every human life has value.
Pope Francis further reminds us, “All life has inestimable value even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor.” As the 2015-2016 Respect Life theme from U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops conveys, “Each of our lives, and every life, is worth living, no matter the circumstances.”
We, the people of God in Central Texas must remember that while being pro-life is an integral element of the work of life, charity and justice in the diocese, being pro-life encompasses also the serious concerns of extensive hunger, poverty, homelessness, violence, euthanasia, capital punishment and the absence of adequate health care. We cannot support those who promote widespread abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and the many other ills that destroy the dignity of human life, and at the same time claim that they are personally opposed to the evils they support or endorse. We cannot continue to allow those who claim a belief in “choice” to escape the moral responsibility to “choose life.”
Evangelium Vitae presents unequivocally that we are “to preach the Gospel of life, to celebrate it in the Liturgy and in our whole existence, and to serve it with the various programs and structures which support and promote life.” (79) The way we are supposed to be in the communion processional during the Holy Eucharist is the way we must be in the world every day.
The Office of Life, Charity and Justice encourages everyone to overtly participate in programs and initiatives that defend the dignity of every human life. May we never forget that Jesus came that we may have life, and have it abundantly (Jn 10:10). Let us take seriously our moral obligation to defend human life at every stage and every age from conception to natural death.