What does it mean to be Pro-Life?
Throughout his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si (Latin for "On the Care of our Common Home") Pope Francis clearly articulates that in order to care properly for the earth, we must have a profound respect for human life. While many have tried to portray Pope Francis as isolating the environment, as a matter of preeminent importance apart from the "life issues", the Pope states that the two cannot be pulled apart; and furthermore, the care of the environment cannot be understood properly, without due reverence for human life.
Pope Francis writes: "It is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life."
The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement."
There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.
The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology.
Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. It is not a healthy attitude which would seek “to cancel out sexual difference because it no longer knows how to confront it”.
The future Saint, Pope John Paul II, in his Encyclical Letter: Evangelium Vitae(meaning in Latin the Gospel of Life) wrote:
"The Church knows that this Gospel of life, which she has received from her Lord, has a profound and persuasive echo in the heart of every person-believer and non-believer alike-because it marvelously fulfils all the heart's expectations while infinitely surpassing them. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.
In a special way, believers in Christ must defend and promote this right, aware as they are of the wonderful truth recalled by the Second Vatican Council: "By his incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being". This saving event reveals to humanity not only the boundless love of God who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3:16), but also the incomparable value of every human person.
The Church, faithfully contemplating the mystery of the Redemption, acknowledges this value with ever new wonder. She feels called to proclaim to the people of all times this "Gospel", the source of invincible hope and true joy for every period of history. The Gospel of God's love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel."
If you would like to get more involved with the PRO VITAE Student Organization, please contact Meggie Schafer, the Student Life Officer at email@example.com
Catholic social teaching emerges from the truth of what God has revealed to us about himself. We believe in the triune God whose very nature is communal and social. God the Father sends his only Son Jesus Christ and shares the Holy Spirit as his gift of love. God reveals himself to us as one who is not alone, but rather as one who is relational, one who is Trinity. Therefore, we who are made in God's image share this communal, social nature. We are called to reach out and to build relationships of love and justice.
Catholic social teaching is based on and inseparable from our understanding of human life and human dignity. Every human being is created in the image of God and redeemed by Jesus Christ, and therefore is invaluable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Every person, from the moment of conception to natural death, has inherent dignity and a right to life consistent with that dignity. Human dignity comes from God, not from any human quality or accomplishment.
Our commitment to the Catholic social mission must be rooted in and strengthened by our spiritual lives. In our relationship with God we experience the conversion of heart that is necessary to truly love one another as God has loved us. (from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website "Catholic Social Teaching")
The Legacy of Roe v. Wade
In January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States gave our nation Roe v. Wadeand its companion decision Doe v. Bolton, and in so doing effectively removed every legal protection from human beings prior to birth. The legacy of Roe is virtually incalculable. In its wake it has left death and sorrow and turmoil:
- the deaths of millions whose lives were destroyed before birth and even during the very process of being born
- countless women traumatized so deeply by abortion that they spend years struggling to find peace, healing, and reconciliation
- men who grieve because they could not "choose" to protect a child they helped bring into existence
- a society increasingly coarsened by toleration and acceptance of acts that purposely destroy human life
These attacks on human life are carried out within the family and with the active involvement of those in the healing profession—institutions that traditionally have protected the weak and the vulnerable. Often they are carried out at the urging of fathers who, rather than protecting their child, believe their only responsibility is to help pay for an abortion. And today, those who support and provide abortion freely acknowledge that killing is involved, and choices once treated as criminal and rejected by the common moral sense have become socially acceptable.
In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe v. Wade—in large part, it said, because admitting error and reversing a prior decision would undermine the Court's authority. It said also that "people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail" (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). In other words, Americans had come to rely on legalized abortion as a backup for contraceptive failure.
In 2000, in Stenberg v. Carhart, the Court expanded the abortion liberty beyond killing in utero; it now wrapped in the mantle of the U.S. Constitution the practice of killing during the process of birth. Abortion has come to be seen by many not only as a "right" to end a pregnancy prior to birth, but as a guarantee that a child aborted will not survive. This is clear in regard to partial-birth abortion, as well as in the growing reports of children who, having survived mid- and late-term abortions, are put aside and left to die because they were not supposed to live in the first place.
Today, some seek ways to alleviate human diseases through research that involves the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Such research, it is claimed, will enhance human life, when in actuality it "reduces human life to the level of simple 'biological material' to be freely disposed of" (The Gospel of Life, no. 14). Often these embryos that are targeted for experimentation were created in laboratories by in vitro fertilization in attempts to assist couples struggling with infertility. Such efforts, however, embrace the manufacturing of human life without considering the consequences, including the many ethical dilemmas resulting from such misuse of scientific technology. (from the USCCB website, Pro-Life Pastoral Plan, Pro-life Activities)
Please feel free to contact Taylor Tracy, the Director of Divine Worship and Community at firstname.lastname@example.org