How to renew our society
By Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB
Archbishop of Vancouver
Published in the B.C. Catholic, Vancouver Archdiocesan newspaper
Dark shadows are cast over our country by threats to life. These attacks, both
more serious and more numerous than in past generations, entail, to use the
words of Pope John Paul II, "a war of the powerful against the weak ... a
`conspiracy against life.'"
Can we not say, again using his words, that "we are facing an enormous and
dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the `culture of death' and
the `culture of life'?" At times, it even appears as if the forces of death have
the upper hand.
Tragically, the biblical story of Cain's murder of Abel which we read in the
book of Genesis, is "a page rewritten daily, with inexorable and degrading
frequency, in the book of human history" (Pope John Paul).
In addition to direct attacks on the dignity of human life, these pages also
recount the unjust distribution of resources among peoples and social classes,
the misery of untold millions, fratricidal wars, trading in arms, drug
trafficking, reckless tampering with the world's ecological balance, and human
What people of good will have to offer is solid conviction concerning the
goodness of human life which comes from God as His gift and is destined for
fulfilment in communion with Him.
The incomparable value of every person's life is forcefully evident in the very
fact of the Incarnation. In becoming man, the Son gave human life an
unsurpassable value, for He made each of us His brother or sister. He is united
with each human person.
Those who are disciples of Christ know for sure that their lives are, as Pope
John Paul said, "a gift carefully guarded in the hands of the Father." The Bible
clearly affirms that the life of every individual, from its very beginning in
the act of conception, is part of God's loving plan: "Before I formed you in the
womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (Jeremiah).
"The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of
conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be
recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every
innocent human being to life" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in
Since 1988, because of the Supreme Court's infamous Morgentaler decision,
abortion in Canada has not been restricted by law. While some non-legal
obstacles do exist, Canada is one of only a handful of nations in the world with
no legal restrictions on taking the life of an unborn child in his or her
This legal void does not embody Canada's traditional sense of justice and fair
play. Rather, it is a disturbing symptom of a grave moral decline.
I am convinced that Canadian criminal law should acknowledge, defend, and
promote the authentic moral values which can be known from reason; that is, it
should mirror the natural moral law hardwired into our very humanity. Indeed,
Parliament should enact legislation that would ensure respect the right to life
of every innocent human being.
We cannot forget that government is the guardian of our inalienable human
rights. It has no power to modify or abolish them, and when it arrogates to
itself the right to countenance the disposal of the life of the weakest and most
defenceless members, it fails in its fundamental obligations.
The pro-life movement, therefore, if it is to be effective, cannot abandon its
efforts to foster legislation which will curtail and eventually eliminate
attacks on innocent human life.
As you know, the Lord has entrusted all of us with the responsibility of making
unconditional respect for human life the foundation of a renewed Canadian
On receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who
is the spiritual inspiration of pro-life movements around the world, had the
courage to say to the leaders of political communities: "If we let a mother kill
the fruit of her womb, what is left to us? It is the principle of abortion that
endangers peace in the world."
Our goal is, simply stated: we seek a Canada in which every unborn child is
protected in law and welcomed in life. Legal reform - which we must work to
foster through the political processes we are fortunate to enjoy in a democracy
- and a spiritual/cultural renewal must both take place if Canada is to
experience a new birth of freedom ordered to goodness.
This will be a long and arduous path, but despite the hardships, we cannot give
up the fight.
This column was taken from a talk given to North Shore Pro-Life. Next week: some
ways to bring about a culture of life.
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