October is Respect Life Month in the United States, and this first Sunday of October is Respect Life Sunday. The Church’s pro-life moral theology embraces a number of different important issues, but certainly, the lives of the unborn are uppermost in the Church’s concern. Abortion is the intentional killing of innocent and defenseless children. The number of abortions in the United States is down, but it is still a matter of hundreds of thousands per year.
The Texas law regarding abortion has been accepted by the United States Supreme Court and is the most significant challenge ever to Roe vs. Wade, especially given the new make-up of the court. Other challenges are making their way through state legislatures. I think that these new laws, if upheld, may limit the number of abortions somewhat, but the real solution to the problem is to create a culture in which human life is treated with great dignity and respect across the set of issues.
The pro-life teaching of the Church is based on the understanding that every human being is created by God in His own image and likeness and is infinitely valued and loved by Him. Whether it is life in the womb or the life of the elderly in a nursing home, or the life of a convicted murderer on Death Row, or that of an enemy, all human life is sacred and holy, and needs to be respected and valued. The only time in which the Church recognizes that it is morally permissible to take another human life is when it is necessary for self defense or for the defense of another. Anything else is a tragedy and a sin against God and against humanity.
It is not only the taking of human life that is addressed by the Church’s pro-life teaching. It is also the treatment of human beings. The torture of prisoners, or of anyone else, is forbidden. The mistreatment of migrants and refugees is a pro-life issue. Global climate change will create more refugees and kill more people than almost any other crisis that we are facing. It is a pro-life issue.
Pope Saint John Paul II made a very clear distinction between the Gospel of Life and the Culture of Death. Many who are anti-abortion are really part of the Culture of Death because they do not accept that all human life is sacred, but only some. This is the same argument made by those who oppose capital punishment but support abortion.
The Church calls us to be pro-life. May we each look at our own attitudes and beliefs and recognize where we need conversion and repentance.
–Fr. Mike Comer