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Created, Loved and Redeemed by God

In preparation for Respect Life month, the USCCB Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities has issued a new pamphlet entitled Created, Loved and Redeemed by God.  It closes with the following observation:

No amount of good social policy, such as programs that feed the hungry and shelter the homeless as vitally important as they are can make up for bad policies concerning the protection of life itself. Without the fundamental right to live, the right to not be killed, no other rights are meaningful. In fact, without life no other rights can exist.

Pope Benedict reminds us in God Is Love that, as Catholics, we are called to make Gods love present in the world. He noted that the bishops help form consciences in political life and stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice (no. 28). But, he emphasized, it is the responsibility of lay Catholics to work for a just ordering of society and to take part in public life in a personal capacity (no. 29).

In other words, it is up to Catholic laypeople to participate directly in public life, helping to enact laws and policies that respect the lives of all, especially those who have no voiceunborn children, human embryos targeted for destructive research, and those who are cognitively impaired, disabled or dying.

Whether we are writing letters to elected representatives, voting, campaigning, or simply providing friends and colleagues with solid information about the grave moral issues of our day, our participation in American public life should at all times be guided by this fundamental truth: each one of usincluding those with whom we strongly disagreeis created, loved and redeemed by God. We, and they, are priceless in his eyes.

By speaking the truth about human life in love, we can help build a society that protects and respects every human life, born and unborn, and better reflects our status as children of God.

Thoughts?

Comments

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I was at a religious service yesterday where the speaker talked about the "intrinsic value of a person" and how we often neglect to see it."No amount of good social policy, such as programs that feed the hungry and shelter the homeless as vitally important as they are can make up for bad policies concerning the protection of life itself."I read this and wondered if we shouldn't think about altering the starting point for all future discussions. The way I read this sentence it translates into, "Good social policy is important, BUT...."Conversely, I've read similar statements that translated into, "Anti-abortion laws are important, BUT..." If we don't protect life, then what benefit is there to good social policy? If we don't work to improve social policy, then how can we possibly combat the policies against life? Why is there a "but" butting into any of this?These two components - protect life, good social policy - are so symbiotically intertwined that I don't understand why we ever talk about them as separate issues.Catholics need to publicly promote just social policies because without them the intrinsic value of the homeless, the poor, the abused is forgotten.Catholics need to publicly promote the protection of life because to not protect that life shows disregard for the intrinsic value of the person who is yet to be and the person who is at the end of life.At the heart of BOTH is the need to recognize the intrinsic value of a person. I'm thinking that's how we need to frame every discussion from now on and leave our "but's" behind.

I agree, Donna, and the Church's "consistent ethic of life" and "seamless garment" policies include both protection of life and good social policy, IMO. Frankly, these policies are among the most important and powerful that Catholicism has to offer the world, both by the personal example of Catholicis and their promotion in the public square. The trick, and it's not an easy one, is to somehow de-politicize the policies, at least to the extent that they are not perceived as belonging exclusively to one political party.

In her mailbox at Church this morning, my wife (involved with our social justice ministry) found a copy of a letter from our Bishop to the pastor, Administrator and Parish Life Coordinator containing the Archdiocesan Policy on campaign activity.The policy strictly warns against any political partisnship( I wonder what Bishop Doran would think) and bans distribution of any "voter guides" or materials except those specifically coming from the US Conf. of Catholic bishops, Instead, it urges that issues be at the forefront of our activity and specifically cites the Bishop's Statement of Faithful Citizenship as a model to follow.Donna is of course right (as are the bishops in that statement) that everything hangs together.If our Church is to be less balkanized and better witnesses to the community, then this is the path to follow.

"...our participation in American public life should at all times be guided by this fundamental truth: each one of usincluding those with whom we strongly disagreeis created, loved and redeemed by God. We, and they, are priceless in his eyes. "Well put. Difficult to achieve. The other guy's hypocrisy is so much more attractive a target. I'm pleased Robert pointed out the contrast between the Bishop's Statement of Faithful Citizenship and Bishop Doran's discourse.

While we are giving the Bishops due credit, the USCCB Committee on International Policy released a statement in January called Toward a Responsible Transition in Iraq. The paper was interesting in the way it called for a national dialogue that might begin with a search for the truth of where we find ourselves in Iraq and not with a search for political advantage or justifications for past positions. They tried to model a discussion that might get beyond the usual exchange of well-honed left/right talking points. Not an easy thing to do these days. http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/iraqstatement0106.htm

Many excellent staements from various episcopall committes (often assisted btyknowledgeable folk) come out of USCCB. Faithful citizenship was terrific but our $1 mil+ a year parish couldn't afford copies for our parishoners, while our beloved Knoights handed out voter guides on windshields during the last election.Guys likeDoran, Sheridan and Bruskewitz ar eright wing extremists but the real problems are two fold:-the JPII Bishops for the most part can't get behind a major statement;-behind that was the cural statementt hat the bishop's statements really have no binding force (only what comes from Rome matters.) So even the effort that went into the il-fated pastoral on women went down the tubes in the 90's and there's little hope in the future that the US catholic hierarchy will again speak with the power they once did about peace or social justrice.

The Catholic Church may be urging an excellent set of social policies, but what then? Action in support of an agenda informed by a set of policy statements will inevitably be political action. That means working with the existing political parties. Neither one is likely to sign up for the whole agenda. Hence division. Nor am I going to suggest forming a Catholic party. That has not worked well in Europe and would be unthinkable here. So what to do?

I don't believe that it is necessary to support anti-abortion legislation in order to be responsible Catholics. The Second Vatican Council says that no human authority should prevent someone following their conscience in religious matters. Should Catholics, through human political authority, prevent others from coming to the conclusion that life does not begin at conception and that abortion is therefore acceptable?After all, whether or not abortion is murder is not settled for everyone. Perhaps a non-legislative approach to preventing abortion would be more effective; one that targets the motivations behind abortion, that transforms current cultural norms such that no woman who finds themselves pregnant finds themselves alone and unsupported.To legislate anti-abortion laws is to admit defeat; it is to admit that Catholic morality and that the beauty of the Catholic religious tradition is insufficient to draw all people to God without the authoritarian hand of legislation.