The late, great Pope John Paul II referred to our era as the “Culture of Death.” Increasingly, our society sees death as a solution to our problems. Death is not the solution. Death is the problem.
The dominant culture of our society promotes death. The Catholic Church promotes life. The battle lines are drawn.
There are four specific examples where the sanctity of life is currently under attack in the United States. They are abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment and embryonic stem-cell research.
The bishops of the United States recently drafted a policy statement which reads: “If fundamental rights such as the right to life are based on abilities or qualities that can appear or disappear, grow or diminish, and be greater or lesser in different human beings, then there are no inherent human rights, no true human equality, only privileges for the strong.”
Since 1973, there have been 49 million legal abortions in the United States. Each time an abortion occurs, at least one human being dies. This human being is made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. Killing an unborn child is a false solution to an unplanned pregnancy.
In 1977, the United States reinstituted the practice of capital punishment. Since then, 1,105 people have been executed in our country. At present, 37 states, the federal government and the U.S. military allow executions as a form of punishment. There are 3,263 people in the U.S. who are on death row awaiting execution. Killing prisoners is a false solution to solving the crime problem. The U.S. is the only country in the Western hemisphere that executes people.
Euthanasia, mercy killing, is becoming increasingly accepted in our society. There are proposals to withhold food and water from elderly and sick people. There is another name for this practice. It is called starvation.
A few years ago there was a bill in the Maryland Legislature to turn off the heat in the rooms of dying patients. There is another name for this practice. It is call freezing.
These are draconian measures. The former governor of Colorado stated that elderly people have an obligation to die. Killing elderly and sick persons is a false solution to the health care problem.
Embryonic stem-cell research is an enormous problem. The U.S. bishops recently stated in the aforementioned document: “No commitment to a hoped for ‘greater good’ can erase or diminish the wrong of directly taking innocent human lives here and now. In fact, policies undermining our respect for human life can only endanger the vulnerable patients that stem-cell research offers to help. The same ethic that justifies taking some lives to help the patient with Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease today can be used to sacrifice that very patient tomorrow.”
From the moment of conception, all 46 chromosomes are present in the baby. Nothing is added. The embryo is a human being. The baby develops in the mother’s womb.
For the first nine months of life a person lives in his or her mother’s womb. For the rest of our life we live outside of the womb. We are using embryonic stem-cell research as a false solution to finding cures for diseases.
The bishops further stated: “It now seems undeniable that once we cross a fundamental moral line that prevents us from treating any fellow human being as a mere object of research, there is no stopping point. The only moral stance that affirms the human dignity of all of us is to reject the first step down this path.”
Our society is choosing death. The Catholic Church is choosing life.
What did God say about this?
“I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Monsignor James P. Farmer is spiritual director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Committee and pastor of St. Ursula, Parkville.