OCTOBER, THE MONTH OF "RESPECT-FOR-HUMAN-LIFE"
While the Rosary holds the pride of place for devotion during this Month of October the theme of “Respect-forHuman-Life” is given prominence for its urgency in the moral and social realm. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) gives the Church’s teaching on the sacredness and dignity of all human life in Article 5 of its section on the Second Great Precept of Charity, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself”, the Fifth Commandment— “Thou shalt not kill.”
The Catechism lays out the basis for the Church’s moral positions in the following way:
“Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no-one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right to directly destroy an innocent human being.” (PAR 2258)
These words are worth reading and re-reading in order for us to have great clarity of mind about the principle which undergirds the whole of the Church’s moral claims about what may and may not be done regarding our human life. We want to make sure that we are not reacting based upon how strongly we feel about something, one way or the other. Strong feeling, untethered from sound and reasonable moral principle, can just as easily lead us to into error as well as truth. Our Catholic Church does indeed have a sound and reasonable moral principle out of which she is drawing her various conclusions on the right and wrong of things like abortion or euthanasia.
The Catechism’s Article 5 divides the presentation of the “Life Issues” into three sections: I. Respect for Human Life, II. Respect for the Dignity of Persons, III. Safeguarding Peace.
Respect for Human Life explains the wrongfulness of, first of all, intentional homicide (wilful murder). It then goes on to specifically critique other forms of killing: abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. In any discussion we might have with someone who is not convinced that legal protection of the rightto-life of the unborn is “anybody else’s business” it is crucial that we ourselves have a correct understanding of the Church’s teaching here and that we be able to lay it out in an eventempered and respectful way.
Respect for the Dignity of Persons addresses the sins of scandal, temperance and intemperance of the body, and other ways in which the dignity of persons may be violated.
Safeguarding peace treats of the duty we have to preserve peace and to avoid war. Indeed, the first murder of Abel by his brother Cain reaches it’s apogee in the mass-murder which occurs during war-fare.
Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: “they shall beat their swords into ploughshares...neither shall they learn war any more.” (PAR 2317)