“In the proclamation of this Gospel, we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking (cf. Rom 12:2). We must be in the world but not of the world (cf. Jn 15:19; 17:16), drawing our strength from Christ, who by his Death and Resurrection has overcome the world (cf. Jn 16:33).”
─ Evangelium Vitae, no. 82
We face a prevailing violence, “a conspiracy against human life” in our day. The culture of death “is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency.” (EV, no. 12) A preoccupation with the pleasures of earthly life has provoked a war of the powerful against the vulnerable. And once people identify the purpose of human existence as limited to this temporal world, anyone – i.e., the unborn child, elderly, sick, handicapped, and dying – who stands in their way is a threat and is to be eliminated.
This situation is enabled and emboldened by the progressive weakening in individual consciences and in society that has lost the sense of the incomparable worth of the human person. Consequently, many are unable to discern what is good, true, and beautiful from what is evil, false, and grotesque. The lines have become distorted. Many now declare what is good to be evil and what is evil to be good. Moreover, the moral weakening of our resistance to the culture of death has made most insensitive, blind to the crimes and violence of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human trafficking, pornography, and the exploitation and commercialization of unborn children.
Because of the widespread moral uncertainty and the hostile environment elicited, a fundamental truth is ignored – the intrinsic dignity of the human person, beginning from conception and enduring through to natural death. Catholics believe, “being in the image of God, the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 357)
Whenever a human person’s dignity is overlooked, devalued, or rejected, something essential is ignored, and the consequences of such an act to society and culture are far-reaching. Thus, the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society, as enunciated by the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The origin of social life is therefore found in the human person, and society cannot refuse to recognize its active and responsible subject; every expression of society must be directed towards the human person.” (no. 106)
Therefore, human beings are to be treated as “ends” and not as “means.” Human life must be valued infinitely and be treated with the respect due to a human person – man (woman) is a person because of who he is, because of his being what he is, not because of what he can do or functions he can perform. Therefore, every person is of incomparable worth, more important than things, and is valuable, laying claim to certain fundamental rights in virtue of what he or she is. “Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1930) And because human dignity is inherent, every human being of whatever age, size, degree of development, or physical or mental abilities has equal fundamental dignity. There is no moment or stage when a person’s life may be worthy and at another point be unworthy.
This understanding and belief must be the starting point of every decision and action; it should influence our behavior, how we live, and the choices we make; it should give shape to how we relate to other people, create laws, and build societies and nations. Human beings as ends are to be served by governments and institutions – whose actions will be measured by whether they threaten or enhance the life and dignity of the human person.
But tragically, many governments and institutions do not pass the test. There is a “train” of crimes against human dignity (what some have labeled as a “chain of death”), beginning with the assault on the most vulnerable of the human family, the unborn – in their murder on an industrial scale and in the harvesting of their tissues and body parts for commercialization. Globally, every day over 150 thousand unborn children are victim to the crime of abortion, 50-60 million annually. This means that in the last 50 years as many as 2.5 billion unborn children have been deliberately murdered, assassinated. The gravity of these crimes committed by the ever-expanding anti-life industry with its biomedical and pharmaceutical partners cannot be ignored or allowed to continue. The primary task before us, therefore, is to peel back the layers of obfuscation and deception and to show to the world who is at the center of this debate: the human person.
To restore a Culture of Life, a society where human life is respected and served, is daunting and is not for the timid. And ejecting the anti-life machine, its lucrative industry, and its indoctrinated narrative will demand sacrifices, hardships, and heroic witnesses and actions. However, as Christians and as a people of life, ours is not to count the cost but to fight the good fight:
“Faced with so many opposing points of view, and a widespread rejection of sound doctrine concerning human life, we can feel that Paul’s entreaty to Timothy is also addressed to us: ‘Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching’ (2 Tim 4:2).” ─ Evangelium Vitae, no. 82
A Voice in the Wilderness
It is said that there is none so blind as those who will not see.
Human beings are often blinded by their prejudices and selfish desires, seeking their own interests, and doing anything to get ahead of everyone. The tragic history of war, oppression, inequity, and so much more testifies to what happens when people are blinded by power, greed, lust, and envy. Biased in perspective, these people see the world and those around them as means to an end – as either a threat to be conquered or an opportunity to be exploited.
To shatter the façade of the lies created by the culture of death, which deny the value, dignity, and rights of a person, particularly the unborn, we must alert the complacent to the inherent value of human life, inform consciences to the truth about human dignity, and activate – recruit – people into the “campaign in support of human life.”
We follow in noble footsteps.
John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, to call God’s people to repentance. “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (John 1:23) Moved with urgency and in fulfillment of the mission entrusted to him, John let nothing deter him from speaking truth. His willingness, for example, to call Herod Antipas – who was in an adulterous relationship – to repentance, is what led to John’s arrest, imprisonment, and ultimately his execution. Even unto death, John called people high and low to repent and turn their lives away from sin unto God.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. confronted a deep-rooted wound in the U.S. and boldly stood against the cultural narrative and those wielding power and influence. He demanded justice and equality, defending his neighbor’s human dignity. Like John the Baptist, Dr. King knew the urgency of the situation and never wavered from his mission. He also made clear that laws must be in harmony with the moral law. From his jail cell in Birmingham, he reminded us that “a just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.” As Dr. King refused to let darkness and injustice rule, we too must refuse to allow the injustice and violence against our neighbor, the unborn child, to rule.
During the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. in 1994, Mother Teresa dared to speak her mind and heart about a crucial issue, the right to life:
“By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So, abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Mother Teresa was not concerned with whether her words would be offensive to some, or what others may think of her. She was consumed with the urgent matter at hand.
We too have an urgent matter at hand!
The Massacre and Exploitation of Unborn Children
We are dealing with a stubbornness, an unwillingness to denounce an injustice. The same tendency that led swathes of the world to deny the personhood and worth of people of color and other enslaved races is now manifest in how unborn children are treated and viewed.
Those who promote abortion, and the harvesting of their tissues and body parts, portray the unborn child as a human object without value, not a person with full dignity. This is analogous to saying that an African American is not a full person because of the color of his or her skin. Either you are a human person, or you are not; personhood is inseparable from humanity. Despite the plethora of carefully crafted euphemisms designed to cast a pall of confusion over the life of the unborn child, this new life from the moment of conception is a living human being, a human person with inalienable and immutable dignity.
Intrinsically evil acts, like abortion and the harvesting of aborted unborn children’s tissues and body parts, fundamentally conflict with the moral law; their moral object is evil. They can never be performed under any circumstances, and it is a serious sin to deliberately endorse or promote these actions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church also makes it perfectly clear that an intrinsically evil act cannot be justified simply because the person performing it intended good to come of it, or because of the surrounding circumstances.
“There are acts, which in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.” ─ Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1756
The gravity of abortion ripples outward, infecting our societies and cultures. And the anti-life industry exhausts tremendous resources and propaganda to deny the humanity of the unborn child and hide the truth from the light. A gruesome industry has developed because of abortion – medical and pharmaceutical research and experimentation and the development of consumer products. It is the utilitarian use of people in a sophisticated enterprise, not visible to the human eye, that we must expose, denounce, and end. Lifesaving and benefiting research ought to preserve human dignity, not exploit it for its own benefit. Human life is sacred, not a manufactured commodity. The ends never justify the means.
We need to unite and protest the injustice and evil of abortion, as well as its macabre industry. Moreover, we must demand that university, government, and industrial scientists stop exploiting aborted children and using their remains in the research of anything.
Need for Prayer and Reparation
We cannot pretend to believe that a human force alone will cast out the darkness of abortion and its repulsive industry and sever the grip of the culture of death, which penetrates our world deeply and is in the minds and hearts of people. To defeat evil and counteract the culture of death, we need to bend our knees in prayer, do penance, and offer reparation.
After much prayer and reflection and desire to bring greater attention to the plight of the unborn, Human Life International (HLI) is inaugurating “A Day of Prayer and Reparation for the Murder and Abuse of Unborn Children.” This event will be held annually on the Feast of the Visitation of Our Lady, May 31. I am asking all pro-lifers and people of good-will, in every level of ecclesial and civil society, to join me and HLI’s global family in offering this prayer and making this act of reparation.
Through this act of prayer, just like Our Blessed Lady, we bring Our Lord into clear view, and thus the wonder of every unborn child hidden from view in the womb of his or her respective mother.
When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Our Lady during the Annunciation, he informed her that her cousin, Elizabeth, was with child. With great urgency, Our Lady traveled to Elizabeth’s home, to care for her until her son, John the Baptist, was born. Although the Divine Child had already been conceived in Our Lady’s womb, she had not told anyone. Elizabeth, nevertheless, recognized that the Child Jesus was in Mary’s womb and greeted Our Lady, saying: “Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Luke 1:42) And when Mary responded, John the Baptist heard Our Lady’s voice, was sanctified by it, and leapt for joy inside Elizabeth’s womb. The young John the Baptist leapt for joy as he first encountered Christ who, in the womb of Our Lady, draws the whole world to Himself, even before His birth.
Not only is there a profound joy in the encounter between St. Elizabeth and Our Lady, but there is a deep sense of the reality of humanity. The encounter between the two women is in fact a meeting of four people, even if St. John and the Divine Child are hidden beneath the protruding bellies of their mothers. The Gospel reminds us of the fundamental truth of the dignity of all human life. This is why HLI has chosen the Visitation of Our Lady to inaugurate the Day of Reparation.
The crimes against human life, especially against the humanity of the unborn child, will never cease unless we demand their end, their complete and unequivocal end. This is the hour to stand in solidarity with the unborn. Let us be united in this effort, bearing witness to Truth.
Click here to pray the “Prayer of Reparation for the Murder and Abuse of Unborn Children,” composed by HLI. In the next couple of weeks leading up to May 31, visit HLI’s website for details about the Day of Reparation. The prayer is available in English, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and other languages. It is in PDF format, so it can be downloaded, copied, and distributed.
Let us unite through this act of prayer and reparation, standing in solidarity against the evil of abortion and its death-peddling industry. With God’s grace, we will bring an end to these crimes against human dignity and inaugurate a Culture of Life.