Treating all with respect and dignity is foundational principle of civilized society

There has been much (justifiable) outrage over the President’s recent disparaging and insensitive remarks about some immigrants to the United States as well as his administration’s purgative immigration policies threatening the safety and unity of many immigrants and their families. What must not be lost in these statements and policy decisions is the underlying lack of acknowledgement of the dignity that is inherent in every human person. Sadly, this same seeming lack of regard for the dignity of every human life coming out of Washington has become all too prevalent elsewhere in our society.

The treatment of all persons with respect and dignity is the foundational principle of a civilized society. It is fundamental to who we are as a human family and is at the heart of the moral code that we live by as people imbued with the goodness of God, the Creator. Without that mutual respect, we begin to see those among us who are different, especially those living on the margins of society, as unworthy of respect, as “lesser” humans. This tragically flawed view of humanity rears its ugly head not only in discussions about immigration, but also the ongoing quest for racial equality. Coupled with the hopelessness and helplessness that are the byproduct of such societal judgments, too many citizens turn to lives defined by acts of despair and desperation.

Each of us has been given the gift of life, the most precious gift any of us could ever receive. And with that gift comes the capacity to love another, to contribute something of ourselves to the common good. When we begin to see and treat human life as disposable or we lose sight of that dignity possessed by all of God’s children, whether they are immigrants, the unborn, the elderly, the homeless, the addicted, or minorities, then we’ve lost our way as a human family and as a nation.

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.