BY BISHOP KEVIN MANNING
“Openness to life is at the centre of all true development” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate (28.)
I ask where is Australia headed on life issues? Where do the majority of Christians stand? Where do members of parliament stand?
Policy makers and commentators continue to hammer away at the belief of Christians, and many of other religions, that all human life is a precious gift from God, and that all human life has inviolable dignity from the moment of conception till the moment of natural death.
The Greens, and allied policy formators, are threatening human life today in many ways.
In addition to the tragic and widespread scourge of abortion, we also face proposals and policies in favour of assisted suicide, euthanasia, human cloning, the eugenic programming of births, and even the denial that marriage is, and can only be, the permanent faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman.
There are still some who would deny that the child in the womb is a human being. Most Christians would oppose public funding of abortion, but while the word of life has spread, there are still many who choose to remain obdurate and refuse to hear the voice of life.
Christians must insist that human embryonic stem cell research is unjust. No one should ever exploit and attack the embryonic human being for any reason, even if it may ease suffering. One does not attack the next generation to try to heal the pain of this generation. Instead, one should place firm hope in the promise of adult stem cell research.
Given the evidence that the prevalent secularism can easily shift all moral questions to the category of a private life-style issue, it is all the more incumbent on us as Christians to preach the word of life, the word of Jesus, to encourage discussion of such issues in the realm of the common good of society and to be well informed about Catholic moral teaching so that we can put our case with conviction and always with respect for those who put a contrary view.
The dignity of the human person is a constant in Catholic teaching. It is based on a vision of life which comes from Jesus the Word Who is Life. When we choose life, we choose Jesus.
This voice, which has developed in the Church down through the ages, is one which has always spoken up for the voiceless and testifies on behalf of the defenseless.
In the midst of pain and hardship, in the midst of the suffering of the Cross, Jesus made a promise. He took on the burden of the neglected and the oppressed. This is also the mission and the vocation of all baptised Catholics.
Now is the time for a concerted effort to convince politicians of the sacredness of life, which God has given to us. One might well begin by objecting to the Greens setting the life agenda by opposing gay marriage, medical assisted suicide, and euthanasia in all its forms.
We can also consider how we can lobby for increased facilities for palliative care, especially in regional and rural Australia, for improvements in the quality of our aged-care facilities, for better training for carers in such facilities, and for more generous provision of funded respite care.
Most Rev. Kevin Manning DD is Bishop Emeritus of Parramatta.
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