SPECIAL: CAMPAIGN TO BUILD A 'CULTURE OF LIFE'
WHOLE LIFE/ PRO-LIFE
In the thirty plus years since the infamous Supreme Court decision that made all abortions legal (Roe V. Wade) "Catholic Online" and "Your Catholic Voice Foundation" announce our "Campaign to Build a Culture of Life".
"Campaign to Build a Culture of Life" will be the longest and largest pro-life campaign in U.S. History. Our goal is to mobilize all Catholic voters, other Christians, other people of faith and all people of good will to come together on behalf of the fundamental human and civil rights issue of our age, the inalienable right to life of every single human person at every age and stage.
There is ABSOLUTELY no question that a faithful Catholic politician MUST inform their political participation by their faith and therefore must vote for life. We are committed to helping every Catholic politician to understand this undeniable fact and act in accordance with it.
Where they do not do so, we will educate, activate and mobilize voters to oppose their bids for public office. We will equip, empower, mobilize and motivate Catholic citizens to join with others to promote the common good - which always and everywhere requires that we protect and defend the "right to life" as the first right and the "freedom to be born" as the first freedom.
"Catholic Online" and "Your Catholic Voice" will educate, network and equip Catholic lay faithful as citizen activists in every State in the Union. We will make educational materials available, assist in effective voter education, registration, activation and mobilization, and make available our 165 million-name database of "Registered Voters" in order to assist our members and their allies in anticipation of the 2004 elections.
"Catholic Online" and "Your Catholic Voice" are unqualifiedly, unapologetically and enthusiastically pro-life. We are "Whole Life/Pro-Life" By that we mean that being "Pro-Life" is a way of life, not a single issue. Neither is this position simply a "religious" position, in the sense that "religious people" should "keep it to themselves".
It is a human rights position rooted in the universal truth that every single human person, no matter at what age or stage of life, has an inestimable dignity and that life is the first right and the freedom to be born must never be denied.
The truth about life is an infallible teaching of the ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Every Catholic must not only believe it but apply it in their lives in every area in which they participate, including elected office. THAT MEANS THAT EVERY CATHOLIC IN PUBLIC SERVICE MUST TALK, WALK and VOTE PRO-LIFE! We will pray for, expose and oppose any unfaithful Catholic politician who fails to abide by the truth on this paramount issue.
We will expose the lie that claims "I am personally opposed but..." We will also expose and oppose any unfaithful Catholic in public life who continues to insist that such a position is acceptable. It is not! We will present the truth that such a position when taken by a Catholic in public life is tantamount to being unfaithful to their baptismal vocation. We will pray for their conversion while we expose and oppose their insidious efforts to obfuscate the truth with sophistry.
We will support every effort to limit the current legalized "abortion on demand" public policy by doing everything we can to limit the horrific consequences of this horrible injustice through limiting legislation. That includes our absolute opposition to what is called "partial birth" abortion, embryonic stem cell research, cloning (both reproductive" and "therapeutic") and so called "family planning" policies that promote, directly or indirectly, abortion, including the sale and promotion of poison in the form of abortifacent drugs.
OUR IMMEDIATE GOALS FOR THE 2004 ELECTION
1) First, we oppose the most egregious example of the raw abuse of power by the State, the judicial creation of a so called "abortion right" manufactured by the U.S. Supreme Court in the infamous contemporary cousin of the infamous Dred Scott decision, Roe v. Wade. We call for the reversal of that horrendous decision. It is wrong, morally and legally. It has unleashed a horrible culture of death and it must be reversed. While we work for its reversal, we will also work to limit its application.
2) Second, we oppose what is called "partial birth" abortion. The failure to ban this procedure can no longer be tolerated by a civilized society. We call for an immediate end to "partial birth abortion" Medical science, natural justice, and conscience compel us to be honest about what we are truly authorizing to be done to innocent children three inches from birth in the procedure called "partial birth" abortion. It is a despicable crime - and now to human embryos. We have hidden this barbarism under the language of "choice" for too long.
Some choices are simply immoral, inhuman, and intrinsically evil - always and everywhere wrong.
3) Third, the "use" or "co-modification" of human life demonstrated by the "manufacture" of human embryonic life in petri dishes as well as the efforts to "clone" human beings (like products to be used rather than persons to be honored) are unspeakable crimes. We unqualifiedly oppose them and will work to make them illegal.
The issues presented by the current "stem cell" and cloning debate require a strong, educated Catholic response. We are committed to that task. We support good science, legitimate medical advances and the common good. For example, we support adult stem cell research, fetal Chord blood research.
The" manufacture" of human embryos for experimentation ALWAYS results in their destruction. By failing to outlaw this activity, we have opened the door to a new insipid form of slavery that is actually being championed as a breakthrough and a "right" and heralded under a banner that promotes a profane understanding of freedom. The growing support for the manufacture of human embryos specifically for experimentation is a new form of slavery and must be outlawed.
3) Also Third, we oppose all Euthanasia, both "passive" and "active" as an assault on the dignity of life. At the other end of the continuum of human life, right when we should be honoring, esteeming and helping our elderly and infirm, there is a growing momentum toward supporting euthanasia.
We oppose euthanasia as always and everywhere illicit, immoral and criminal. Its' growing acceptance compels us to examine how we are treating the elderly, the infirm, the vulnerable and the hopeless in our midst. Our contemporary dance with death betrays the loss of our moral compass as a people. We will work for legislation and candidates who recognize our obligations in solidarity to the elderly, the poor, the elderly and the infirmed.
4) Fourth, because we are committed to a whole life "pro-life" policy and perspective, we oppose capital punishment. Though arguments can be made as to whether it was ever legitimate, it is no longer necessary or defensible to protect society and promote the common good. There is a different moral basis for the opposition found in Catholic teaching to both killing the pre-born and executing capital offenders. In failing to make this distinction some Catholics have added to the ongoing confusion.
The faithful Catholic Christian must hold an unqualified opposition to all abortion as intrinsically evil--the taking of innocent human life which is always and everywhere immoral and illegitimate--period. To hold any other position, no matter what is said or implied, is to be an unfaithful Catholic and, in some instances, to excommunicate oneself under Canon law.
However, Catholic opposition to capital punishment does not necessarily imply that it is "intrinsically" evil--rather, that it can no longer be justified, since bloodless means are available to protect society, promote the common good, and allow for mercy to preside over strict justice! The Catholic Catechism was amended to more strongly emphasize that the use of "capital punishment" is no longer justified and in fact adds to the growth of what John Paul II has rightly labeled the "Culture of Death."
5) Fifth, because we are "whole life/pro-life" we acknowledge our obligations of solidarity to the poor in our midst. We will support public policy that respects the dignity of all human persons, and particularly the poor, throughout all of life. We stand for the Churches unbroken teaching concerning our obligations in solidarity to every person and a preferential love for the "poor", in all of their manifestations including economic poverty and lack of opportunity.
We support policy initiatives that both protect the poor and expand the opportunity for their full participation in every segment of society, including the market economy. This understanding of solidarity will inform our positions on economic, cultural and social issues. We call for a pro-life, pro-family, pro-poor public policy.
"Whole Life/ Pro-Life"
Deeply within every man and woman, we all know the truth that there is an inherent dignity to every human life from conception to natural death. Our law and public policy must reflect this truth if we are to be truly "civilized". It is the task of Catholic citizens to champion this cause until it prevails.
This "Whole life/Pro-life" position is not a "Republican" or "Democrat" - "Liberal" or "Conservative" position; it is a truly human position. It is a matter of authentic justice. Protecting all human life from conception to natural death is the pre-eminent moral cause of our age just as slavery was to another generation of Americans.
As Catholic Christians we are particularly mindful of the extraordinary implications of the "Redeemer in the Womb". Our Christian faith professes that in the "fullness of time" the God who made the universe, became a man in the womb of a Virgin named Mary. In other words, God himself was an "embryo", a "fetus", a pre-born and a born child. In addition to the clear revelation of natural law that abortion is an unspeakable horror, this truth of our faith compels us defend the dignity of every human life and to insist that the first home of every human person, the womb of their mother be a protected sanctuary.
We dedicate our effort to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, The mother of all life.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
"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.73 "
POPE JOHN PAUL II, The Gospel of Life
"The Church's canonical discipline, from the earliest centuries, has inflicted penal sanctions on those guilty of abortion. This practice, with more or less severe penalties, has been confirmed in various periods of history. The 1917 Code of Canon Law punished abortion with excommunication.69 The revised canonical legislation continues this tradition when it decrees that "a person who actually procures an abortion incurs automatic (latae sententiae) excommunication".70 The excommunication affects all those who commit this crime with knowledge of the penalty attached, and thus includes those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed.71 By this reiterated sanction, the Church makes clear that abortion is a most serious and dangerous crime, thereby encouraging those who commit it to seek without delay the path of conversion. In the Church the purpose of the penalty of excommunication is to make an individual fully aware of the gravity of a certain sin and then to foster genuine conversion and repentance. "
"The Gospel of Life"
Paragraph 73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid. ). It is precisely from obedience to God--to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty--that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10). In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it".98
A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favoring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations--particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation--there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects."
Pope John Paul II
John Paul II, "The Gospel of Life"
"63. This evaluation of the morality of abortion is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos. This is the case with experimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries. Although "one must uphold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but rather are directed to its healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival",74 it must nonetheless be stated that the use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person.75
This moral condemnation also regards procedures that exploit living human embryos and fetuses--sometimes specifically "produced" for this purpose by in vitro fertilization--either to be used as "biological material" or as providers of organs or tissue for transplants in the treatment of certain diseases. The killing of innocent human creatures, even if carried out to help others, constitutes an absolutely unacceptable act.
Pope John Paul II "The Gospel of Life"
64. At the other end of life's spectrum, men and women find themselves facing the mystery of death. Today, as a result of advances in medicine and in a cultural context frequently closed to the transcendent, the experience of dying is marked by new features. When the prevailing tendency is to value life only to the extent that it brings pleasure and well-being, suffering seems like an unbearable setback, something from which one must be freed at all costs. Death is considered "senseless" if it suddenly interrupts a life still open to a future of new and interesting experiences. But it becomes a "rightful liberation" once life is held to be no longer meaningful because it is filled with pain and inexorably doomed to even greater suffering.
Furthermore, when he denies or neglects his fundamental relationship to God, man thinks he is his own rule and measure, with the right to demand that society should guarantee him the ways and means of deciding what to do with his life in full and complete autonomy. It is especially people in the developed countries who act in this way: they feel encouraged to do so also by the constant progress of medicine and its ever more advanced techniques. By using highly sophisticated systems and equipment, science and medical practice today are able not only to attend to cases formerly considered untreatable and to reduce or eliminate pain, but also to sustain and prolong life even in situations of extreme frailty, to resuscitate artificially patients whose basic biological functions have undergone sudden collapse, and to use special procedures to make organs available for transplanting.
In this context the temptation grows to have recourse to euthanasia, that is, to take control of death and bring it about before its time, "gently" ending one's own life or the life of others. In reality, what might seem logical and humane, when looked at more closely is seen to be senseless and inhumane. Here we are faced with one of the more alarming symptoms of the "culture of death", which is advancing above all in prosperous societies, marked by an attitude of excessive preoccupation with efficiency and which sees the growing number of elderly and disabled people as intolerable and too burdensome. These people are very often isolated by their families and by society, which are organized almost exclusively on the basis of criteria of productive efficiency, according to which a hopelessly impaired life no longer has any value.
65. For a correct moral judgment on euthanasia, in the first place a clear definition is required. Euthanasia in the strict sense is understood to be an action or omission which of itself and by intention causes death, with the purpose of eliminating all suffering. "Euthanasia's terms of reference, therefore, are to be found in the intention of the will and in the methods used".76
Euthanasia must be distinguished from the decision to forego so-called "aggressive medical treatment", in other words, medical procedures which no longer correspond to the real situation of the patient, either because they are by now disproportionate to any expected results or because they impose an excessive burden on the patient and his family. In such situations, when death is clearly imminent and inevitable, one can in conscience "refuse forms of treatment that would only secure a precarious and burdensome prolongation of life, so long as the normal care due to the sick person in similar cases is not interrupted".77 Certainly there is a moral obligation to care for oneself and to allow oneself to be cared for, but this duty must take account of concrete circumstances. It needs to be determined whether the means of treatment available are objectively proportionate to the prospects for improvement. To forego extraordinary or disproportionate means is not the equivalent of suicide or euthanasia; it rather expresses acceptance of the human condition in the face of death.78
Taking into account these distinctions, in harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors 81 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.82
"This task is the particular responsibility of civil leaders. Called to serve the people and the common good, they have a duty to make courageous choices in support of life, especially through legislative measures. In a democratic system, where laws and decisions are made on the basis of the consensus of many, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals invested with authority may be weakened. But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls that person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good. Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law. For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.
The Church well knows that it is difficult to mount an effective legal defense of life in pluralistic democracies, because of the presence of strong cultural currents with differing outlooks. At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re-establishment of a just order in the deface and promotion of the value of life. Here it must be noted that it is not enough to remove unjust laws. The underlying causes of attacks on life have to be eliminated, especially by ensuring proper support for families and motherhood. A family policy must be the basis and driving force of all social policies. For this reason there need to be set in place social and political initiatives capable of guaranteeing conditions of true freedom of choice in matters of parenthood. It is also necessary to rethink labour, urban, residential and social service policies so as to harmonize working schedules with time available for the family, so that it becomes effectively possible to take care of children and the elderly.
THE CLARITY OF THE CATECHISM
(Paragraph 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."
(PARAGRAPH 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.'
"... the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today, however, as a result of steady improvements in the organization of the penal system, such cases are very rare if not practically non-existent" ("The Gospel of Life," n. 56).
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