The third annual March for Life will take place on May 11, 2001. People from across the country will come to Ottawa to stand up for life, particularly the life of the smallest and most vulnerable human being, the unborn child.
Every society, however pluralistic, considers life to be a gift beyond all measure and each human being to have incalculable worth and dignity. Life is the most precious gift that is given to us and it is our duty to love it, respect it and keep it from harm.
As people of faith, we also believe that human life is sacred because every human being is created in the image of God. The inspiring words of Pope John Paul II, given in a homily in Washington at the beginning of his pontificate, continue to motivate all who stand up for life.
ll human beings ought to value every person for his or her uniqueness as a creature of God, called to be a brother or sister of Christ by reason of the Incarnation and the universal Redemption. For us, the sacredness of human life is based on these premises. And it is on these same premises that there is based our celebration of life – all human life. This explains our efforts to defend human life against every influence or action that threatens or weakens it, as well as our endeavours to make every life more human in all its aspects.
And so, we will stand up every time that human life is threatened. When the sacredness of life before birth is attacked, we will stand up and proclaim that no one ever has the authority to destroy unborn life.... When freedom is used to dominate the weak, to squander natural resources and energy, and to deny basic necessities to people, we will stand up and reaffirm the demands of justice and social love. When the sick, the aged or the dying are abandoned in loneliness, we will stand up and proclaim that they are worthy of love, care and respect.
While there are many threats to human life and dignity, there are also daily actions of human love and kindness and significant developments at all levels of society in support of life. Powerful affirmation of the fundamental value of human life was given by the Supreme Court of Canada this winter in two unanimous decisions.
In refusing to extradite two Canadian citizens accused of murder unless the United States authorities provided assurances that they would not face the death penalty, the Court in the Burns and Rafay case sent a powerful message about the great care that our legal system must take to protect the lives of everyone, even if they have been accused of the most brutal crimes. In upholding the conviction and sentencing of Robert Latimer for the murder of his twelve-year-old severely disabled daughter, Tracy, the Court made an eloquent statement about the value of each human life and the role of the state in protecting human life especially when it is most vulnerable.
While we have been disappointed by the Court's refusal to protect unborn human life in two other major recent cases, we have also been encouraged by the Court's acknowledgment that Parliament has the authority to do so. On the occasion of the March for Life, we reiterate our call for legislation that will effectively protect the life of the unborn child.
We also recommit ourselves to do all that we can in our families, communities and parishes to welcome and nourish life. In marching for life on May 11 and also throughout the year, may we all walk as children of light for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true, and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. ( Eph 5; 8-10)
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family was jointly founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus to promote respect for human life and human dignity and the essential role of the family.