“Then God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.’ God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them…God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good.” –Genesis 1:26-27,31a (NAB)
What do all these people have in common? They all have the right to life and they each have inherent dignity as a human being.
The conclusion of the first chapter of the Bible illustrates the beauty and sacredness of God’s creation. It is no wonder that God’s breath of life in all of His creation also serves as the foundation of Catholic Social Teaching. The Life and Dignity of the Human Person is the theme from which all other social justice themes arise. In spite of the fact that we are all sinners, we are all made in His image and loved as His children. This dignity and right to life is not earned; it is something God has gifted to us. God is the source of all human life and as stewards of creation we have no right to end the life of another human being.
The Catholic Church encourages all public and private citizens to uphold the sanctity of the life and dignity of the human person in her teachings throughout the centuries. There are certain intrinsic evils such as direct abortions, embryonic stem cell research, physician-assisted suicide, and genetic modification. The Church also believes that there are rare, if any, instances when it is morally acceptable to carry out the death penalty. Even warfare is limited to the Just War Theory with its roots going all the way back to Doctors of the Church such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Augustine of Hippo.
The Church’s teachings on life and dignity could not be more relevant today in our country. Abortions have increased ever so slightly for the first time in nearly three decades. Embryonic stem cell research is once again legally permissible. An increasing number of states continue to introduce legislation to legalize physician-assisted suicide. California just last year ended its moratorium on the death penalty. This past Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of our involvement in the conflict in Iraq.
However, through the hard work of the pro-life movement, including many Catholics, we have had many victories. In your lifetime, almost half the states in our country introduced over a hundred pieces of legislation collectively to legalize physician-assisted suicide. None of them passed. In 2009, New Mexico abolished the death penalty. In 2010, 11 states passed dozens of bills that restricts access to abortion.
This weekend as we join tens of thousands of pro-lifers in San Francisco, we as Catholics are called to pray for all those who are victims of violence of any kind. Let us also take this time to re-dedicate ourselves to personally living more non-violent lifestyles in both our words and actions and urge those in power to champion policies, both domestically and internationally, that foster God’s sustaining peace.
Walk for Life West Coast 2011 (Saturday, January 22)
11:00 AM Rally at Justin Herman Plaza
12:00 PM Walk for Life (along Embarcadero to Marina Green)
2:00 PM Social Hour (browse through vendors, grab a bite to eat, enjoy music and speakers)
3:00 PM Youth Rally (Fort Mason Event Center)
Permission slip can be found here.