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Home Op-Ed Respect for human life engages your mission

Respect for human life engages your mission

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We must voice value for all human lives, not only the unborn
by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB

This is an excerpt from a homily given before the March for Life in Victoria.


Photo Caption: Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, spoke on the value of life before the March for Life in Victoria, May 11. (Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

Respect for human life, especially those in greatest difficulty – the unborn and those near death – profoundly engages your mission both as young Catholics and as citizens of our democratic country. That’s why we are participating in today’s March for Life. It is a sign of the desire to take part publicly and respectfully in open discussion which focuses on human life issues.

I wish to offer you just a few tips on how, as servants of life, like Jesus, you can foster a real culture of life.

 

1. Watch the Language Used

First of all, I urge you to be informed about the intrinsic worth of human life: why we value it as a gift of God our Creator and why we should protect all that is “wonderfully made.” It is now indisputable that a distinct human life comes into existence at conception. Science is on our side, and so we need never fear its findings.

This also means being very aware of the manipulation in vocabulary that surrounds life issues. For example, abortion is often referred to as the “termination” of a “fetus,” language that dehumanizes the unborn child.

Or think of the now popular term “quality of life.” It has been hijacked to mean primarily economic “well-being,” associated with independence, beauty and enjoyment. Government-sponsored and paid-for suicide and euthanasia are now euphemized as “medical assistance in dying.” Deliberate killing of another person is called “end of life care.”

So, be astute and informed about what people are talking about.

 

2. Remember: It’s Not Just Your Opinion

A second trap to avoid falling into as a servant of life is that of feeling you are “imposing your religious beliefs” on others. And, they say, who are you to do this?

But let me remind you that when we enter into dialogue in the political and social spheres, we do so with arguments from reason and from the common wisdom that has guided humanity for thousands of years.

“You shall not kill” is a commandment that puts into words what the conscience of people has held for millennia. It is on the hard-drive of humanity.

We are not imposing our religious beliefs but giving voice to values that are the common patrimony of all men and women, wherever they live and whoever they are. God has given to all people these values, and we have an obligation to try to see that they are honoured in society at large.

Think, for example, about the oath “to do no harm” which physicians still take after more than 2,000 years. Until a few years ago, all health-care workers understood this meant they could not take the lives of their patients. The law backed them up.

Now some have concluded that no harm is done when a patient is euthanized or given the means to take his or her own life.

So, be convinced that your positions are not based on your religious beliefs, though certainly our faith reinforces what human reason already tells us.

 

3. Accompany

Those Confronting Difficulties

Third, let it never be said of us – as we are often falsely accused – that pro-lifers only preach respect for life but leave those in tough situations alone. If there is one thing a servant does, and must do, is that of “accompanying” those in distress.

Our words are not of condemnation but of mercy. And our actions must show the compassion of Jesus – a manifestation of what it means to wash the feet of a suffering person.

For example, if a child comes into this world in unwanted circumstances, the parents and other members of the family – and the extended family of the parish and other individuals – must do everything possible to accept that child as a gift from God and assume the responsibility of accepting him or her with openness and affection.

Likewise, those who are tempted to end their own life need us not to lecture them but to accompany them. They need our presence, our hands to hold, and our words to comfort them.

We must be there by the sickbed to assure them that they are not alone, that their life, even as it ebbs away, still has meaning and beauty. And we must work to see to it that palliative care is more accessible and affordable for every British Columbian.

 

4. Be Courageous, Imaginative and Edgy

My last “tip” is to remind you that you have the Holy Spirit working with you. You are not alone! And so don’t be afraid to be imaginative and creative in the different ways you foster a pro-life attitude among your friends or in your school community. Be courageous in swimming against the tide.

We are counting on you to be the servants of life who will work zealously so that the womb will be always be a sanctuary of life and the deathbed a place where authentic compassion is offered.

 

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 May 2017 13:38  

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The B.C. Catholic

 
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