Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we are about to start Respect Life Month in October, I would like to address the issue about Pro-Life as being really Pro-Life and not anti-abortion or other misconceptions that one might have. Part of this letter is based on an article by the National Catholic Report from July 15, 2018 entitled “What Does it REALLY Mean to be “Pro-Life’?”
First of all, the Church does not hate anyone nor does it shun any person for doing something. Often we hear that the Church condemns a person who committed abortion or has same sex attraction. Actually, it is the contrary. The Church has great love always for the PEOPLE, especially when they are hurt or left abandoned by what they did. The condemnation is always towards the ACTION. We speak against abortion, euthanasia, approval of homosexual union. Therefore as the first point, it’s fundamental the understanding that the universal call to love (Love one another as I have loved you) does not exclude anyone.
The Second point, the Church has in it’s core that the human life is sacred from the moment of conception to the natural death. That entails also the promotion and the defense of the dignity of every human person. By extension of the human person, we can also add the holiness of human family that will come out of this same idea. The order in which was spelled out, is not by accident. In our last elections, there was a lot of debate as to what does it mean to be Pro-Life, the care of other people such as migrants and helping the general population or the end of abortion. (this is not an accurate description of the debate, but very vaguely written). Pro-Life and life issues are far broader than these “hot-topics.” There is a hierarchy among offenses that involve direct attack against innocent human life. Pope Saint John Paul II, in his Encyclical The Gospel of Life, provides a sort of categorization based on a Pastoral Constitution from the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes #3). This categorization could be divided into these broad categories:
1. “Whatever is opposed to life itself” (Murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, suicide)
2. “Whatever violates the integrity of the human person” (mutilation, torture, coercion)
3. “Whatever insults human dignity” (subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery and human trafficking, prostitution
4. “Disgraceful working conditions” that exploit and dehumanize workers (this appears to be a fourth category, but could be considered part of 3).
5. Therefore, we cannot consider the issue of abortion on the same level as immigration
or elderly care. But again, these are all important topics for us to talk about and defend.
The third point, again using the words from John Paul II in his encyclical, is that we are called to be “unconditionally pro-life.” He writes, “…we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’. We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily in the ‘midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.” (EV#28) People need our help advocating for them, whether they are in the womb, hospital, nursing home, or suffering discrimination. Ultimately, being Pro-Life is to love one another as God has loved us.
October is traditionally celebrated as “Respect Life Month.” Therefore, we will be addressing different topics that impact our lives and the lives of the people around us. I’m not sure if we will be able to offer some talks on some subjects, but please stay tuned. We will be doing a drive to help Birthright of our two pregnancy centers in town (more information on the next page.) Please pray during this time that people might recognize life as a gift of God, and so treat it respectfully regardless of one’s race, religion, or political party. Remember that by our Baptism, WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD, AND SO WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST!
Father Steven Clemence