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Why we march for life in Ottawa this week…

May 7, 2012
Why do we march for life in Ottawa this week?  Because human life has a sacred and religious value, but in no way is that value a concern only of believers. 
Today we are living in the midst of a culture that denies solidarity and takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”.  This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents that encourage an idea of society exclusively concerned with efficiency.  It is a war of the powerful against the weak.  There is no room in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure or anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them and can only communicate through the silent language of profound sharing of affection.
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. Let us never forget Pope Benedict XVI's words at the opening ceremony of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia, on July 17, 2008:
"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?"
The Roman Catholic Church holds a consistent ethic of lifeThe Church offers a teaching on the inviolability, the sacredness and dignity of the human person.  However, 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.
In Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, (Truth in Charity), the Holy Father addresses clearly the dignity and respect for human life "which cannot in any way be detached from questions concerning the development of peoples."  Benedict writes,
"In economically developed countries, legislation contrary to life is very widespread, and it has already shaped moral attitudes and praxis, contributing to the spread of an anti-birth mentality; frequent attempts are made to export this mentality to other states as if it were a form of cultural progress."
"Openness to life is at the centre of true development," writes the Pope in that same encyclical. "When a society moves toward the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity toward the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away."  The Holy Father sums up the current global economic crisis in a remarkable way with these words:  "Human costs always include economic costs, and economic dysfunctions always involve human costs."
The burning issues of the promotion of human life must be high on the agenda of every human being on every side of the political spectrum.  They are not only the concern of the far right of the political spectrum.  Many people, blinded by their own zeal and goodness, have ended up defeating the very cause for which we must all defend with every ounce of energy in our flesh and bones.
Being pro-life does not give us the right and license to say and do whatever we wish, to malign, condemn and destroy other human beings who do not share our views.  We must never forget the principles of civility, Gospel charity, ethics, and justice.  We must avoid the sight impairment and myopia that often afflict people of good will who are blinded by their own zeal and are unable to see the whole picture.
Several years ago, the Capuchin Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Séan O’Malley wrote these words:
“If any cause is motivated by judgment, anger or vindictiveness, it will be doomed to marginalization and failure. Jesus’ words to us were that we must love one another as He loves us... Our ability to change people’s hearts and help them to grasp the dignity of each and every life, from the first moment of conception to the last moment of natural death, is directly related to our ability to increase love and unity in the church, for our proclamation of the Truth is hindered when we are divided and fighting with each other.”
Today we are living in the midst of a culture that denies solidarity and takes the form of a veritable “culture of death”. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents that encourage an idea of society exclusively concerned with efficiency. It is a war of the powerful against the weak. There is no room in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure or anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them and can only communicate through the silent language of profound sharing of affection.
The market push towards euthanasia
If we look carefully at the great dramas of the last century, we see that as free markets toppled Communism, exaggerated consumerism and materialism infiltrated our societies and cultures. Aging populations, especially in the west, and resulting smaller workforces are now creating a market push towards euthanasia. As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “a right to die will inevitably give way to the duty to die.”
Most people who think that euthanasia and assisted suicide should be legal are not thinking the whole issue through. They are thinking about personal autonomy and choice. They think about what it would be like to suddenly become incapacitated and consider such a life as undignified or worthless. Perhaps they consider severely disabled people as having no quality of life.  Our dignity and quality of life don’t come from what we can or cannot do. Dignity and quality of life are not matters of efficiency, proficiency and productivity.  They come from a deeper place – from who we are and how we relate to each other.  True compassion leads to sharing another’s pain, not killing the person whose suffering we cannot bear.
What is wrong with abortion, euthanasia, embryo selection, and embryonic research is not the motives of those who carry them out. So often, those motives are, on the surface, compassionate: to protect a child from being unwanted, to end pain and suffering, to help a child with a life-threatening disease. But in all these cases, the terrible truth is that it is the strong who decide the fate of the weak; human beings therefore become instruments in the hands of other human beings.
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.  Being Pro-Life is not an activity for a political party or a particular side of the spectrum.  It is an obligation for everyone: left, right and centre!  If we are Pro-Life, we must engage the culture around us, and not curse it.  We must see others as Jesus does, and we must love them to life, even those who are opposed to us.  Being pro-life in this day and age is truly prophetic, and it will bring about authentic development and enduring peace in our world.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

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