October’s Focus is on the Dignity of Life

“Who would Jesus execute?” That is the rather provocative title of the annual report put out by the Catholic Mobilizing Network, a national organization that works with Catholics and others to promote the dignity and value of human life and the abolishment of the death penalty. I hope everyone would agree that the answer to that question is no one: Jesus would execute no one. Is there anyone beyond the mercy of God, even the “worst” human? And is there not always the chance of conversion, turning to the Lord in repentance? Of course, we could also ask, “Who would Jesus abort?” That question too, as repulsive and provocative as it may sound, has the same answer: no one.

The fundamental principles guiding our teachings on human life are simple: the human person is made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, life is sacred—period! There are no exceptions or circumstances or situations or economics or creed or color or ethnicity that would mitigate that basic truth. Life is sacred, and therefore any attack on life must be rejected or it will weaken the fiber of our society. I think that was at the heart of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1993 address made during his visit to the United States, when he said, “America, defend life so that you may live in peace and harmony.” It is often said that we are the richest country in the world, and while I do not know if it is actually true, Mother Teresa said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish … any country that accepts abortion, is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence [in order] to get what it wants.” The same can be said of capital punishment. Our laws say you’re not supposed to kill people, and yet we kill people who kill people so that we can reinforce the message that we are not supposed to kill people. The argument is inherently illogical. In our post-Roe reality, Catholics must now work together in “radical solidarity,” walking with women in need. Our LifeHouse Crisis Maternity Homes and Aftercare Program is a 24/7 residential transitional housing program for homeless pregnant women and their infants and young children. This program in Springfield, and opening April 2024 in Cape Girardeau, will go a long way in walking in “radical solidarity” with women in need. I invite you to walk with us in a spirit of “radical solidarity” and make a financial donation to our local LifeHouse ministry. This may be done on the Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri Website at www.ccsomo.org. Thank you.

The battle for life is not over. Since the Dobbs decision, the opponents of life are ramping up their efforts, targeting Missouri and other states to enshrine abortion in state constitutions or legislation that would codify so-called abortion rights. And let’s not forget about religious freedom. Some federal regulations have been proposed which would require Catholic healthcare ministries to violate Church teaching on human life and dignity. I invite you to the Citizen’s Network of the Missouri Catholic Conference to better inform yourself on the threats to religious freedom and legislation that may be not in line with the dignity of life in Missouri: www.mocatholic.org. What should our response be? Well, as Christians, we are filled with hope that the beautiful vision of a true culture of life can become a reality. Is it possible to live in a country where every life is valued and received as a gift? Absolutely. More than anything, we need a conversion of hearts. Our elected officials can pass laws protecting human life but no law can legislate the human heart. Ultimately, the conversion of minds and hearts will make the biggest impact in building a culture of life in a Post-Roe world.

The champion of the pro-life cause, Mother St. Teresa of Calcutta, offers us a particular challenge these days: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Yes, we belong to each other. Yes, life is sacred. Yes, we are made in God’s image. Yes, life is fragile and therefore must be defended and protected. Let us never be discouraged. As in all things, let us be strengthened in our prayer especially before the Blessed Sacrament.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”


Published in the September 29, 2023 issue of The Mirror.
Photo: Dean Curtis (The Mirror)