By MSGR. THOMAS DUFFY
During the month of October, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been encouraging us to respect life because “every human life has its origins in the heart of God.”
In a pamphlet they prepared long before the violence that took place in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, they wrote: “As individuals, and as a nation, we should ask ourselves: How are we treating God’s gift of life? Do we treat human life with the reverence it deserves? It is only with human beings that God shares something of himself. Alone among all his creatures, humans are able to know and love him, and by their own free will choose to become more God-like.”
They added, “But today our nation tolerates and sometimes promotes the intentional killing of human beings — by abortion and destructive embryo research, by executing criminals, by assisted suicide. Transforming the culture of death will not be easy. But it can be done and we must begin with ourselves.”
Since the violence of Sept. 11, we must add that our nation is tolerating and our political leaders are promoting the intentional killing of human beings they assure us are terrorists or supporters of terrorists. As we know, none of them have been charged or convicted of the crimes in any court of law. In addition, our nation is aware that a number of human beings we judge innocent of any crime are being killed, not intentionally, but by accident.
If anything, what the bishops wrote before Sept. 11 is even more difficult to do but more important to do. They wrote, “We can help people understand that state-sanctioned killing (by our enemies or by us alone or with allies) is unworthy of God’s creatures, that there are other ways to protect society from those who have done great harm.”
Yes, this will not be easy, and we do well to pray that God bless America but above all, we need to pray that God bless all of us who dwell on this earth as creatures made in his image and likeness, that is created to know the truth, particularly the truth about our own dignity as human beings and to respond to this truth with God for God, ourselves and one another.
We need to pray that God bless us with the courage to be instruments of his love and not instruments of hate. We need to pray for this, not only for a few of us in this world but for all who are human. God put us here not to compete with one another but to work together in love with each other for the good of all.
Remember the prayer of Jesus the night before he died for his apostles and for all who would come to believe in him as the prince of peace. He prayed that we be united in love for one another so that we might be an effective sign to all human beings that a life of love is not an impossible dream that is to be admired from afar, but a reality to be lived.
The bishops wrote, “We can by hard work and with God’s help transform our culture into one of respect for life. It must begin in each of our hearts, with reverence for every single human life God has called into existence. … No human life should be outside our concern, because none is beyond the reach of God’s love.”
Msgr. Thomas R. Duffy is pastor of St. Michael Church in Garden City, and dean of the Pee Dee Deanery.