4th Unity Congress – GOSPEL OF LIFE
28 November 2011 – 01 December 2011-11-29
HOLY FAMILY CATHEDRAL
UNDER THE PASTORAL CARE AND WITH THE PASTORAL BLESSING OF
HIS LORDSHIP BISHOP CAMILLO BALLIN mccj
VICAR APOSTOLIC OF NORTHERN ARABIA
Theme: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
REV. DR. CLEMENT CAMPOS C.Ss.R (Bangalore)
President – Association of Moral Theologians of India
REV. DR. STEPHEN FERNANDES (MUMBAI)
Professor – St. Pius X College, Mumbai, India
1000 PARTICIPANTS REGISTERED FROM THE FOUR PARISHES IN KUWAIT
1st Talk based on:
The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae addressed
To the Bishops
Priests and Deacons
Men and Women religious
and all People of Good Will
on the Value and Inviolability
of Human Life
By Pope John Paul II
Evangelium Vitae I – The Culture of Life vs. The Culture of Death
Rev. Dr. Clement Campos
Moral sins have now become culturally and socially acceptable.
Today we are faced with the challenge of living the Gospel life. We need to have a consistent ethic of life. The two basic principles are:
Every human life is sacred and every human life has the right to be defended, protected, and fostered from conception to natural death.
Human life is also social and so in this context as well it is our obligation and duty to protect and foster life.
Genesis 9:5 5 But I will also demand a reckoning for your lifeblood. I will demand it from every animal; and from man, too, I will demand a reckoning for the life of his fellow man.
To get a better and clearer understanding of what life truly is, let us read a little passage from what our late Holy Father, Blessed Pope JP II had to say in Evangelium Vitae 34
The life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7, 3:19; Job 34:15; Ps 103:14; 104:29), is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory (cf. Gen 1:26-27; Ps 8:6). This is what Saint Irenaeus of Lyons wanted to emphasize in his celebrated definition: "Man, living man, is the glory of God". Man has been given a sublime dignity, based on the intimate bond which unites him to his Creator: in man there shines forth a reflection of God himself.
The life which God bestows upon man is much more than mere existence in time. It is a drive towards fullness of life; it is the seed of an existence which transcends the very limits of time: "For God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity" (Wis 2:23).
The reason man is said have an ‘alien dignity’ is because the source of his dignity is a conferred dignity given by the Creator. David F. Kelly in his book Contemporary Catholic Health Care Ethics says, “Alien dignity means that God having freely chosen to create human beings has also chosen to involve His very self with us, with our plans and our sufferings, our virtues and our sinfulness. Alien dignity means that our worth is not found in any mere usefulness granted to us by other men and women. We are of worth. That worth comes from God, not from individuals or social agreements of other humans. Our worth remains even when sin-filled persons or sin-filled structures ignore it. It is ‘alien’ because it transcends us and our possibilities of rejecting it.” We are lovable because God loves us.
Pope JP II made 3 solemn declarations in this encyclical – Evangelium Vitae.
Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. EV 57
Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. EV 62
In harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. EV 65
We must be aware that pro-life issues are not limited to abortion and euthanasia. It does not excuse indifference in these areas of life which are poverty, racism, unemployment, housing, health care and capital punishment. Every human being is entitled to living a fulfilled life.
“Adopting a consistent ethic of life, the Catholic Church promotes a broad spectrum of issues…. Opposition to abortion and euthanasia does not excuse indifference to those who suffer from poverty, violence and injustice. Any politics of human life must work to resist the violence of war and the scandal of capital punishment. Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. Therefore, Catholics should eagerly involve themselves as advocates for the weak and marginalized in all these areas. Catholic public officials are obliged to address each of these issues as they seek to build consistent policies which promote respect for the human person at all stages of life. But being ‘right’ in such matters can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life. Indeed, the failure to protect and defend life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community” (US Bishops, Living the Gospel of Life, 1998, n. 23).
Are there any exceptions?
In rare cases, the death penalty was accepted earlier by the Church as it was thought to be a deterrent to committing violent crimes. However evidence indicates that is not the case. A person accused of a crime must be given a chance to reform and redeem himself. The USCCB said that the antidote to violence is love not more violence. We cannot defend life by taking life.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church on Capital Punishment
2266 The State's effort to contain the spread of behaviors injurious to human rights and the fundamental rules of civil coexistence corresponds to the requirement of watching over the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. the primary scope of the penalty is to redress the disorder caused by the offense. When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
"If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
"Today, in fact, given the means at the State's disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender 'today ... are very rare, if not practically non-existent.'[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]
For John Paul II, “the punishment of any crime should not only seek to redress wrong and protect society. It should also encourage the possibility of repentance, restitution and rehabilitation on the part of the criminal. Execution removes that hope."
DEFENSE OF WAR
On the ‘Just War Theory’ and if there is such a thing as a just war.
Just War (CCC 2307-17)
All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. Despite this admonition of the Church, it sometimes becomes necessary to use force to obtain the end of justice. This is the right, and the duty, of those who have responsibilities for others, such as civil leaders and police forces. While individuals may renounce all violence those who must preserve justice may not do so, though it should be the last resort, "once all peace efforts have failed." [Cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 79, 4]
As with all moral acts the use of force to obtain justice must comply with three conditions to be morally good. First, the act must be good in itself. The use of force to obtain justice is morally licit in itself. Second, it must be done with a good intention, which as noted earlier must be to correct vice, to restore justice or to restrain evil, and not to inflict evil for its own sake. Thirdly, it must be appropriate in the circumstances. An act which may otherwise be good and well motivated can be sinful by reason of imprudent judgment and execution.
In this regard Just War doctrine gives certain conditions for the legitimate exercise of force, all of which must be met:
"1. the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
2. all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
3. there must be serious prospects of success;
4. the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition" [CCC 2309].
The responsibility for determining whether these conditions are met belongs to "the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good." The Church's role consists in enunciating clearly the principles, in forming the consciences of men and in insisting on the moral exercise of just war.
The Church greatly respects those who have dedicated their lives to the defense of their nation. "If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace. [Cf. Gaudium et spes 79, 5]" However, she cautions combatants that not everything is licit in war. Actions which are forbidden, and which constitute morally unlawful orders that may not be followed, include:
- attacks against, and mistreatment of, non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners;
- genocide, whether of a people, nation or ethnic minorities;
- indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants.
Given the modern means of warfare, especially nuclear, biological and chemical, these crimes against humanity must be especially guarded against.
In the end it is not enough to wage war to achieve justice without treating the underlying causes. "Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war" [CCC 2317]. The Church has no illusions that true justice and peace can be attained before the Coming of the Lord. It is the duty of men of good will to work towards it, nonetheless. In the words of the spiritual dictum, we should work as if everything depended upon our efforts, and pray as if everything depended upon God.
THE CULTURE OF DEATH
Understand the Roots/Origin/Underlying Causes
There are differing attitudes prevalent today with regard to the value of life all of which view life through different lenses. To understand the principle of the sanctity of life we must base our judgment on the quality of life. There is a erroneous perception that freedom means license to do anything one wishes to do rather than knowing that ideally freedom is linked to the truth. Being at liberty always to choose to do what is right.. There is a warped idea of freedom which is unbridled, unprincipled and unlimited.
In the landmark case 1993 Roe vs. Wade the judge ruled that, a woman is free to act once conception has taken place. This limits the more vulnerable persons in society. There is a change in the understanding of humanness. We must understand that words are important. Language is important. Those with a hidden agenda use ambiguous phrases or clever terminology to hide the reality of truth.
Depending on the desire of the person, the medical profession plays on the feelings and emotions so a baby is identified as a fetus if it is perceived that a woman wishes to abort her baby. Women who have multiple babies that become viable due to in vitro fertilization are advised to have healthy babies aborted in order to give one baby a better chance of being carried to term. Doctors cloud the truth by calling it ‘foetal reduction’ instead of calling it what it really is which is ‘baby reduction.’
Modern technology has advanced greatly and men and women who are unable to conceive a child naturally resort to having babies through in vitro fertilization. Some use the technology to have designer babies, or wish to determine the sex of a child in order to have one of a preferred sex. Modern technology ought be used to improve the quality of life not destroy of human life. Designer babies are now being made available by those who have the technical know how. Medical research ought not to use unethical means to play with life just because they can. All children have a right to be born through an act of love not in a test tube or Petri dish. The ethical and moral point of view of the conception of life is changing with the changing attitudes towards the family.
The womb is the inviolable sanctuary of life and God alone is the Author and Giver of life therefore it is morally and ethically wrong to have recourse to contraception or any form of artificial reproduction. More and more today children are viewed as a right and not as a gift from God. People are prepared to go to any lengths in order to have the desire for a child fulfilled.
The sick, the aged, the handicapped, the disabled have a right to a loving, caring refuge and haven within the home. Instead they are being betrayed by the medical profession – it is the big sell out on the Hippocratic oath that they take to protect and uphold life always. On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America.
Health care is now become a commodity and the poor, the weak and the vulnerable sections of society have no access to basic health care. There is an active trading in body parts and all reverence for human life is being lost. The medical profession is being misused as it has now become legal in many countries to obtain physician assisted suicide for those who desire it or if it is advocated by those with the power to order it. People no longer want or wish to know the right thing to do, they opt for the most convenient. There is a changing pattern of behavior which encourages treating human beings as objects rather than persons with intrinsic value and worth.
CLASSICAL ETHICAL WORLD VIEW
God given reason
Discover the right thing to do
Focus on morality of the action
The individual moral obligations is stressed
The starting point is the rational nature and implication of the action.
Life is seen as a gift
MODERN ETHICAL WORLD VIEW
Meaning given by man
Individuals decide what is the right thing to do
Morality is based on the purpose of the action – it is based on the intention.
Stress is laid on the Moral freedom and the rights of the individual.
The starting point is the feelings and perception of the individual
Life is seen as a possession
Blessed Pope John Paul II challenged the Church to begin an urgent “mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life” (95) based on the need to re-establish the link between life and freedom/freedom and truth.
Education is the most crucial area of response as religious voices are being sidelined and alienated. Documentaries like The Silent Scream which is a 1984 anti-abortion documentary video directed and narrated by Bernard Nathanson, an obstetrician, NARAL Pro-Choice America founder, and abortion provider turned pro-life activist, is a useful and powerful means conveying the horror of abortion and will create an awareness of the truth. The film depicts the abortion process via ultrasound and shows an abortion taking place in the uterus. During the abortion process, the fetus is described as appearing to make outcries of pain and discomfort.
Dr. Nathanson is also the co-author of a book ‘Aborting America’ here is a review of the book by Yaakov (James) Mosher, “Dr. Bernard Nathanson's vantage point is one that comes to the pro-life cause once in a generation. It's a view rich in knowledge and nuance. Nathanson's rationalism does us another great service by defining what abortion actually is, medically speaking - Abortion is not the killing of the fetus per se. It is the separation of the fetus from the mother. The death of the fetus is often the by-product of the separation.” The media is not interested in the truth it prefers to push a pro-choice agenda and mentality in order to go along with the prevailing culture of death. The Church has a tremendous duty to use its influence to educate people on the truth and the ethics of the decisions that they make which influence life. We have to bear witness to the ethics of life.
To be pro life entails embracing every aspect of life. We are called to win hearts and minds. We are called to be doers of the word and not just hearers. We are called to proclaim the truth remembering always that this goes hand in hand with compassionate action.
We are called to dialogue with other faiths on pro life issues. We are called to apply political pressure on candidates who wish to govern us in the political arena, as legislation of laws have a tremendous influence on our lives In many countries euthanasia has been legalized and this has resulted in many old, sick and disabled persons to become victims of unjust laws that deprive them of life sometimes even without their consent.
Every human life is immeasurably precious and we must recognize that God alone is the Author and Giver of life. It is our solemn and sacred duty to ensure that every human person’s life is safe especially those who are most vulnerable. The Gospel of Life imposes on us a sacred duty to work tirelessly for the betterment of all human life without society or the culture determining whether that life is deemed worthy to live or not.