As we do each year at this time, we promote two upcoming events that reflect our commitment to uphold the dignity and sacredness of human life. 40 Days for Life is an international campaign of prayer and peaceful witness to highlight and defeat the scourge of abortion in our time. In the fall of 2007, the spring of 2008, the fall of 2008 and the spring of 2009, these efforts have mobilized people of faith and conscience in 240 cities across all 50 of the United States, five Canadian provinces, plus locations in Northern Ireland and Australia. This year the 40 Day campaign begins September 23 and lasts until November 1. Please see the posters in many of your parishes for locations of the 40 Days for Life near you.
For the fourth year in a row, Salt + Light Television is also proud to be one of the endorsers of Life Chain across Canada. This year’s event will take place on Sunday, October 4, 2009.
As we prepare to take part in both events, and in any pro-life event, let us remember several important things. These have guided us at Salt + Light, and we know that they are at the heart of many people engaged in the pro-life movement. We have shared these thoughts with our viewers and readers each year, beginning in 2005. We repeat them here.
To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted. Remember the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI:
Every crime against life is an attack on peace, especially if it strikes at the moral conduct of people…But where human rights are truly professed and publicly recognized and defended, peace becomes the joyful and operative climate of life in society.
Also remember the powerful words of Pope Benedict XVI addressed to a multitude of young people from around the world last summer during World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia:
Do we recognize that the innate dignity of every individual rests on his or her deepest identity – as image of the Creator – and therefore that human rights are universal, based on the natural law, and not something dependent upon negotiation or patronage, let alone compromise? And so we are led to reflect on what place the poor and the elderly, immigrants and the voiceless, have in our societies. How can it be that domestic violence torments so many mothers and children? How can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space – the womb – has become a place of unutterable violence? (Opening Ceremony, Barangaroo, Sydney Harbour, July 17, 2008.)
Human life has a sacred and religious value, but in no way is that value a concern only of believers. Although faith provides special light and strength, this question arises in every human conscience which seeks the truth and which cares about the future of humanity. The value at stake is one that every human being can grasp by the light of reason; thus it necessarily concerns everyone.
Abortion is the most serious wound inflicted not only on individuals and their families who should provide the sanctuary for life, but inflicted as well on society and its culture, by the very people who ought to be society’s promoters and defenders. We must never lose sight of the atrocities against the unborn, the untold and too-seldom spoken of pain and lingering anguish experienced by those who have been involved in abortions.
Nor can we ignore the other great challenge faced by humanity today–the serious question of mercy killing, or euthanasia as it is sometimes called, no longer found in abstract cases and theories. It concerns ordinary people and is debated not only in Parliament but also around dinner tables and in classrooms. This issue strikes to the very core of who we are and what we believe. Even when not motivated by the refusal to be burdened with the life of someone who is suffering, euthanasia must be called a false and misguided mercy. True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear.
The Roman Catholic Church holds a consistent ethic of life. The Church offers a teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness and the dignity of the human person. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice.
Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or willful self-destruction, whatever violates the dignity of the human person such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself, whatever insults human dignity such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children, disgraceful working conditions where people are treated as instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons… all of these things and more poison human society.
It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. There can be no true peace unless life is defended and promoted. Being pro-life does not give us the right and license to say and do whatever we wish, forgetting the principles of civility, Gospel charity, ethics, and justice. We stand together, with our Bishops, as witnesses to life. Being pro-life is one of the deepest expressions of our baptism: we stand up as sons and daughters of the light, clothed in humility and charity, filled with conviction, speaking the truth to power with firmness, conviction and determination, and never losing joy and hope. We must love others to life, even those who are opposed to us.
The Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, impressed upon our generation the dignity and sacredness of human life, from the earliest moments to the final moments. Life is an extraordinary adventure, a God-given gift to be cherished, treasured, and protected. The late Pope strongly and consistently reminded us that if we are a people of life, we must make room for the stranger and the homeless. We must comfort and care for the sick and dying. We must look after the aged and the abandoned. We must welcome the immigrant. We must defend innocent children waiting to be born. Our efforts must be consistent and speak for themselves.
As we hit the streets over the next weeks in our country, may we all continue to live and preach that Gospel of life by our words and by our actions –- as we value more and more life unborn, life unfulfilled, and life usurped in our own journeys towards life unending in the company of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us make Pope John Paul II’s beautiful prayer, at the conclusion of his Encyclical Letter on the Gospel of Life Evangelium Vitae our own once again as we prepare for the 40 Days for Life campaign beginning on September 23 and for Life Chain across Canada on October 4, 2009.
Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life:
Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies
not allowed to be born, of the poor
whose lives are made difficult,
of men and women who are victims
of brutal violence, of the elderly
and the sick killed by indifference
or out of misguided mercy.
Grant that all who believe in your Son
may proclaim the Gospel of life
with honesty and love to the people of our time.
Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel
as a gift ever new,
the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
throughout their lives
and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely
in order to build, together with all people of good will,
the civilization of truth and love,
to the praise and glory of God the Creator and lover of life. AMEN.
Father Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO Salt + Light Catholic Television Network