Threats to Civilization

Wednesday, 28 April 2010
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Message of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF)
on the occasion of the National March for Life – Ottawa, May 13, 2010

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II cautioned that abortion poses "an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself."[1] This strong warning rings true today, as we need look no further than our own communities to witness the devastating aftermath of abortion. Abortion has destroyed countless innocent lives and deeply scarred women, men, and children from all walks of life, leaving our society deeply wounded.

As our world becomes more individualized, the threats to human life in its weakest moments continue to grow. Just as abortion intensified its assault on the most innocent members of our society over 40 years ago, the potential legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide now threatens the lives of countless vulnerable persons across the country. Once socially accepted, these inhuman practices endorse a mentality which jeopardizes the lives of elderly persons, persons with a disability, as well as the lives of the sick and dying, all of whom require our compassionate support.

However, in the midst of this destruction and isolation we have the chance to choose life! We are called to help rebuild the relationships which have been broken, to provide support for those who are in need, and to care for all those who have been harmed by a culture that rejects the intrinsic value of human life. On the occasion of the March for Life, let us commit ourselves to renewing our civilization through acts of love.

Building a Civilization of Love

Pope Benedict XVI tells us that, "to love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it."[2] If we are to repair the damage done by abortion, we must do so through charitable works. It is important to show our love not only for the unborn child, but also for the frightened mother who considers abortion as a last resort, the silenced partner who can do nothing but watch as his child is taken from him, and the misguided doctor who perverts his or her gift of healing by destroying life.

There are many ways in which we can repair the damage that has been done and work towards the common good. In the political sphere, we can continue to fight for the rights of the unborn, as well as for the rights of mothers to receive pertinent information regarding pregnancy, the unborn child, and the effects and risks of abortion before making an informed decision. New avenues for education are opening up through the new technologies at our disposal which we can use to better educate anyone who is willing to learn the truth about the beginning of life and the stages of gestation.

Even though millions of unborn babies have been eliminated by abortion since 1969, much has been accomplished by crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies. These centers are true manifestations of Christ's love in the world, helping women find housing, employment and educational opportunities, and supporting them as they find the courage to ensure a stable environment for their children. In addition, these centers recognize that they have a special duty to provide anyone who has been affected by abortion with counseling and emotional healing.

Positive Choices for the Future

The need for compassionate care and companionship can be seen at both ends of the spectrum of life; however, this need is often overlooked in order to provide unbridled support for personal autonomy. Abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide are all shielded by the ideal of "individual choice." In reality, the decision to participate in any one of these life-destroying acts affects not only the individual, but also his or her family and friends, and their entire community. The decision to take a life, whether it is the life of another human being or one's own life, has a profound impact on the entire social network that upholds our society.

It is our responsibility to guarantee that every person has the ability to make positive choices that will benefit the individual as well as his or her community. In the case of euthanasia and assisted suicide, we must ensure that all Canadians have access to compassionate palliative care, including appropriate pain relief and spiritual or existential care. Above all else, each person deserves to have companions to stay with him or her, as he or she bravely faces the challenges of living with a disability, chronic pain, or terminal illness. We must not only work for those in need, but also be present with those in need. It is only through true solidarity that we can hope to build a civilization of love.

No one person or decision can be isolated from the whole human family. Like ripples on a pond, the choices made by one person, whether positive or negative, radiate throughout society. How will you choose to impact our world?

[1] Pope John Paul II, <em ">Evangelium Vitae, 59.
[2] Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 7.