Were there to be no support in the whole history of ethical and moral thought, were there no acknowledged confirmation from medical science, were the history of legal opinion to the contrary, we would still have to conclude on the basis of God's Holy Word that the unborn child is a person in the sight of God. He is protected by the sanctity of life graciously given to each individual by the Creator, Who alone places His image upon man and grants them any right to life which they have.
Friday, October 7, 2016
Life Issues Forum: Infused with the Works of Mercy
This edition of Life Issues Forum is available in English and has been posted to our website, where its Spanish translation will be posted next week.
The Life Issues Forum is a bi-weekly column by
Pro-Life Secretariat staff addressing the latest issues on the culture
of life. Columns may be reprinted as they appear here (in full and
without alteration) without further permission.
The Pro-Life Secretariat
LIFE ISSUES FORUM FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Infused with the Works of Mercy October 7, 2016
By Tommy O'Donnell
In the coming months, dozens of states will be confronted with
efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Under the guise of
compassion and autonomy, the expansion of this practice would really
mean the legalized abandonment of people who are terminally ill. Instead
of being encouraged to end their lives, patients need proper pain
management, care for depressive symptoms (which may be caused by their
sense of helplessness), spiritual guidance, and accompaniment as they
approach their final days. In other words, we should kill the pain, not
If you live in one of these states, seek out your State Catholic Conference
and, with their help, keep in touch with your state representatives,
urging them to reject any legislation which would weaken society's
protection of the vulnerable.
And yet the Gospel calls us
to more than advocacy efforts. Pope Francis reminds us of Jesus' demand
that our daily lives be infused with the works of mercy. "The Gospel
teaches what Jesus' kingdom requires of us... that closeness and
tenderness are the rule of life for us also, and that on this basis we
will be judged," the Holy Father states in a 2014 homily.
Visiting the sick (a corporal work of mercy) and comforting the
sorrowful (a spiritual work of mercy) are not add-ons to the Gospel,
but, as Pope Francis puts it, they are the "starting point of
November begins with two feasts related to
salvation: All Saints and All Souls. The first is dedicated to those
who---like the newly-canonized Saint Teresa of Calcutta---now glorify
God with all the saints. The latter feast is for those who may have to
spend more time spiritually preparing for the heavenly life. May it
compel us to become infused with mercy in this life! The spiritual and
corporal works of mercy point to the reality of "the communion of
saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life
Moved by mercy, we show the terminally ill
and the elderly the face of Christ by our presence and care. We can
prepare them to meet the Lord by providing opportunities for sacramental
reconciliation, as well as reconciliation with family members who may
be distant. The article "Caring for Loved Ones at Life's End" (available at www.usccb.org/respectlife)
provides concrete ideas for showing the "closeness and tenderness"
demanded by the Gospel. Companionship, as an alternative to the offer of
legalized suicide, is what Pope John Paul II called in Evangelium vitae "the way of love and true mercy," the way demanded by our common humanity.
by our common humanity, all people of good will can recognize how the
social fabric frays when suicide is presented as a legitimate choice. As
the Year of Mercy draws to a close, the way of love is just beginning,
and so we entrust all our future works and legislative efforts to Mary, "a sure sign of hope and solace."
Tommy O'Donnell is a Staff Assistant for the Secretariat of
Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. You can find
"Caring for Loved Ones At Life's End" and other Respect Life resources
USCCB, 3211 Fourth Street NE, Washington, DC 20017-1194