|From the Pastor...
The Sanctity of Human Life
In every political election and debate, issues that effect us all are brought
forward to test a candidate's position. From education to taxes, nothing is left
out, especially those issues that will get the general populace talking and yes,
arguing. Everyone has an opinion after all, and some will fight for their
position to the end, convinced that they are right, and that their opinion should
be that of everyone else. Some vital issues become clouded in the arena of
public opinion, and the foundational truths underlying these issues get buried
under rhetoric and oftentimes, misunderstanding.
We mark the 33rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade next weekend, the landmark decision of our nation's Supreme Court that a woman's right to choose an abortion is constitutional and must be upheld by law. Over these many years, debate and discussion have been plentiful, and people of good will have stood on both sides of the issue and fought for their position, sometimes with patience and at other times with violence. We have watched the debate escalate, especially in election years, and then found it fade into the background of other “more immediate” concerns. We have witnessed the original ruling being honed and modified to accommodate changing technologies and medical capabilities. Discussion of “circumstances” and “age of the fetus” have brought new light, or darkness, depending on your perspective, to the living out of the “law”. And through it all, confusion and anger have not been lessened, but heightened. We as a nation have come no closer to a resolution of this debate than when Roe v. Wade set the stage for it decades ago.
The Church teaches and preaches to the value of every human life, whether that life be a convicted killer on death row, a person who is elderly and/or incapacitated and has lost their “quality” of life, or an innocent son or daughter in the womb. All life belongs to God, and to God alone, and it is only God who can determine its ending. This “seamless garment” principle forms the foundation upon which we are to build our own sense of law and opinion. Law and opinion that ignores this basis of truth will always founder and fall, eventually, and oftentimes with devastating effects. Without this fundamental truth, our present day questioning seems a bit absurd and prone to shifts in the debate. Questions such as: Is the unborn a fetus, implying only a mass of unidentified cells, or a child?; Who determines this identity? Is it the mother, the father, the law or another?; When and under what circumstances can the pregnancy be terminated “legally”, without such an act becoming criminal? I wonder. How can we as a civilized nation of fairly intelligent people, not see the contradiction between the fact that countless infants are killed in the womb each day without impunity when we label such unborn life as mere “fetuses”, while criminals such as Scott Peterson can be found guilty of murdering not only his wife, but their unborn “child”? What is the difference between such unborn life, other than what is “wanted” or “unwanted”?
No one wants to take away a person's right to choose. No one wants to take away a person's rights, period. Nor is it a desire to re-victimize a woman who is raped, or to place immeasurable guilt upon one who has chosen to have an abortion. Choices are always to be made, for that is part of what makes us unique in the scheme of all creation. But the basis for our choices must be formed well, and with insight and forethought. The choice to have a child or not needs to be made at the time of the sexual encounter, not after. The choice to alleviate the burdens placed on us and society by those on death row or by those with diminished “value”, needs to be made in the promotion of societal change to recognize the value of every human person, regardless of circumstance. The choice to be free of what will deter us from what we “want” in life, needs to be made as we are forming our own desire and expectations to life itself.
As Catholic Christians, we have not only a right, but a responsibility to lead others to the Truth, regardless of how painful that process may be for all involved. Until we are able to treat every person as invaluable to God's plan regardless of circumstance, to convince ourselves and others that there is always potential to every human life, and to teach others by our constancy toward issues of life, we will continue to contribute to the problem, rather than the solution. Until we are able to embrace every woman who is pregnant and offer the unlimited support she needs, her pregnancy wanted or unwanted, then we do nothing more than add to the endless rhetoric with no real action. And until we are able to enfold every woman who is raped and dehumanized through such a horrible experience, to bring healing to her broken soul and shower her with the light that God's Truth is to be, then we contribute to darkness and misunderstanding.
After 33 years, I would hope that we can learn a lesson in all our efforts. We can change the law all we want, close every abortion clinic and stop everyone who performs an abortion, but until we form public “opinion” in Truth, then our work will be incomplete and our struggle ongoing. Nothing will change until we make every choice by raising our eyes from a place of humility, and gaze on our God who is the very Author of Life. As we pray this week for an end to the need for abortion, may we also pray for the ability to see God's plan for us all. In clarity and obedience, may we each find real meaning to our own lives.