Sacredness of Life

Beginning of Life

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you”
(Jer 1:4-5)

Background

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person—among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life… Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law… Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270, 2271, 227

Action

 

Abortion Resources

Natural Family Planning and Fertility
Post Abortion Hope and Healing

 

Bioethics and Stem Cell Research

“…we don’t have to sacrifice human life in order to research ways to save it.”
U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey, M.D.

Background

“The issue of stem cell research does not force us to choose between science and ethics, much less between science and religion. It presents a choice as to how our society will pursue scientific and medical progress. Will we ignore ethical norms and use some of the most vulnerable human beings as objects, undermining the respect for human life that is at the foundation of the healing arts? Such a course, even if it led to rapid technical progress, would be a regress in our efforts to build a society that is fully human. Instead we must pursue progress in ethically responsible ways that respect the dignity of each human being. Only this will produce cures and treatments that everyone can live with.”
On Embryonic Stem Cell Research: A Statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2008

Action
  • Support Adult Stem Cell Research
  • Write to your legislators on the need for ethical research practices
  • Host a Stem Cell seminar at your parish by contacting the Office of Advocacy and Justice. All seminars are FREE and will be scheduled to accommodate your parish.
Resources

 

Death Penalty

“Abolition of the death penalty is most consonant with the example of Jesus, who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice.”
– US Bishops, Statement on Capital Punishment, Article 13

Background

“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. If however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person. Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” (CCC, 2267)

Action
  • Write to your state legislators and urge them to abolish the death penalty
  • Take part in a Prayer Vigil scheduled the day of an execution
  • Host a Death Penalty workshop at your parish
Resources

 

End of Life

“But if the life of each of us is limited and fragile, we are consoled by the thought that, by virtue of our spiritual souls, we will survive beyond death itself. Moreover, faith opens us to a ‘hope that does not disappoint.’ ”
(cf. Rom 5:5)

Background

As Catholic leaders and moral teachers, we believe that life is the most basic gift of a loving God–a gift over which we have stewardship but not absolute dominion. Our tradition, declaring a moral obligation to care for our own life and health and to seek such care from others, recognizes that we are not morally obligated to use all available medical procedures in every set of circumstances. But that tradition clearly and strongly affirms that as a responsible steward of life one must never directly intend to cause one’s own death, or the death of an innocent victim, by action or omission. As the Second Vatican Council declared, “euthanasia and willful suicide” are “offenses against life itself” which “poison civilization”; they “debase the perpetrators more than the victims and militate against the honor of the creator” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, n.27). Statement on Euthanasia, 1991

Action
  • Fill out a Catholic Living Will and discuss your wishes with your family
  • Host a Living Will workshop at your parish
  • Volunteer at a local nursing home
Resources

 

Disabilities

“We are a single flock under the care of a single shepherd. There can be no separate Church for persons with disabilities.”
Welcome and Justice for Persons with Disabilities (1999)

Background

“Our faith requires a greater sensitivity and commitment to our fellow humans who suffer from mental illness as well as a greater responsibility on our part to recognize their importance to the community and especially communities of faith. In a society that judges a person on the value of what he or she produces, the person living with mental illness is easily seen merely as a burden on society. The temptation is to isolate or marginalize. As Christians, then, we are called unceasingly to affirm their dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God, and to recognize their value to the community.”  The Person with Mental Illness:  Bearing God’s Image”,  by Rev. Richard Gill, L.C.

Action
  • Take steps to ensure that your parish and liturgies are accessible to all peoples.
  • Workshops for Interpreters
  • Advocate for public policies that promote the rights of those with disabilities, especially the unborn
  • Educate yourself and your parish on how to be a welcoming, inclusive community
  • Large Print Sacramentaries – When looking for large print sacramentaries, come to NCPD (National Catholic Partnership on Disabilities)  for font sizes 24, 34 and 44 print versions and for the lectionary on CD, formatted in all three sizes to print as you need. For more information contact Janice Benton, Project Manager at jbenton@ncpd.org or 202.529.2933.
Contact our office for a copy of the following:
  • Opening Doors workshop
  • ‘In My Brother’s Shoes’ – Disabilities awareness workshop
  • ‘Welcome to My World’ – Simulation workshop designed to raise awareness of the needs and potential of persons with disabilities
  • ‘Welcome One, Welcome All’ – Inclusive religious education program
Resources
Repeated Social Teaching

The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. All people are created in the image and likeness of God and thus all human life, at all stages, is sacred. This belief is the foundation and root to all the principles of our social teaching (Catholic Social Teaching or CST). In our society, human life is under direct attack from abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is being threatened by cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and the use of the death penalty. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.