Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bishop Aquila of Fargo: The Dignity of Human Life

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Support, in word and deed, the dignity of human life

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, D.D., Bishop of Fargo
Nov 2008 issue of New Earth newspaper, Diocese of Fargo PDF file

On Nov. 4, 2008, the United States witnessed an historic event in the election of the first African-American president. With his election as president we have seen our nation take great strides forward in the civil rights movement and the rights for all peoples regardless of race. I congratulate President-elect Barack Obama and assure him of my prayers and the prayers of the faithful of the Diocese of Fargo in the immense responsibilities that he will undertake as president. One of those prayers will be for the conversion of his heart and mind to recognize the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death and the truth that no government has the right to legalize abortion.

In his acceptance speech on Nov. 4, President-elect Obama stated, “I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.” I pray that President-elect Obama will listen when it comes to the question of the unborn and not impose the intrinsic evil of abortion on the consciences of so many who know the truth that abortion is the destruction of a unique innocent human being. The President-elect in his voting record and his speeches has revealed that he is one of the strongest supporters of legalized abortion, as well as the “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA). In this he directly opposes the divine law of God concerning the dignity of each human life, and so he strongly disagrees with the position of the Catholic Church. On a purely political level, he even disagrees with the majority of Americans, who at least want some limits on abortion. The Church, and most especially bishops and priests, will need to make the teaching of the Church known to every Catholic.

The Catholic Church teaches throughout her history the truth of the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death. This truth was recognized by our country until 1973 with the decision of Roe v. Wade. Today this truth is known even more clearly through reason and science. Every one of our lives began at the same moment: when an egg and sperm came together in our mother’s womb, formed one cell, and began to divide. It is truly marvelous and beautiful when you observe the truth through the technology of modern science. . . .

Most know that since the Church defends each human life, she must teach against abortion. However, some believe that it is possible to be a faithful Catholic and be pro-choice. This is impossible. Abortion is an intrinsic evil, which means that in no circumstance is it permitted nor may it ever be supported, even as a means to a good end. . . .

. . .Another misunderstanding among some Catholics is that abortion is just one issue among many issues. They will say “I am not a one issue person.” It is true that all Catholics must be concerned about the just ordering of society, which means concern for the economy, immigration, the war in Iraq, health care, taxes, etc. All of these impact the dignity of the human person and the flourishing of society. Different prudential judgments may be made about how to prioritize and address these matters in light of the teaching of the Church. Nevertheless, there are fundamental rights that no civil society may take away.

The fundamental right to life is essential to all other rights (CCC 2273). Therefore the right to life, from the moment of conception until natural death, is the first among all rights and the first issue that must be taken into consideration, acted upon and protected.

Catholics, regardless of their affiliation with a political party, must always support the dignity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, and they must enact good laws which do so. . . .

. . .The misinterpretation of the separation of Church and State as the denial of the entry of God or moral convictions into the public square reveals the reality that the religion predominately lived today is that of secular atheism, the denial of God, whether directly through the works of Richard Dawkins and modern academia, or more subtly through practical atheism, living day-to-day life as if God didn’t exist. . . .

. . .Being faithful to the call and mission given to us by God can never be limited to Sunday worship, but requires the surrender of our complete and entire lives. If we are faithful Catholics, everything we do will be influenced by our relationship with God, his truth, his love and his constant inspiration. If we withhold the beauty and truths about human life from our nation’s laws, we diminish our society.

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