"Therefore Choose Life"
BISHOP OSWALD GRACIAS
Archdiocese of Bombay, India
As we approach the end of the Second Millennium of the birth
of the Prince of Peace, we see that we live in a world at war with itself. We
are living in the most violent decade of human history. Wars, terrorism, riots,
killings, genocide, arising from hatred between individuals, sexes, families,
communities, races and nations. Never before has there been so much talk of
love, yet never before has there been so much hatred. Never before has there
been so much talk of peace, yet never before has there been so much violence.
Never before has there been so much talk of human rights, yet never before has
there been so much shameless trampling on the dignity of the human person. An
essential mark of every civilised society and nation is its defence of the
defenseless, its readiness to help the helpless, its eagerness to speak up for
the voiceless. That is why the worst crime is the killing of the most
defenseless, helpless and voiceless section of humanity - abortion of the unborn
child. It is estimated that worldwide, anywhere from 60 to 80 million children
are destroyed before birth. The figure for India is estimated at about 12
At the other end of the human life-span is the growing threat
of euthanasia, the killing of the aged and infirm who are no longer economically
productive. They are sometimes considered no longer "economically productive",
but all of us who have aged relatives know that they are productive in numerous
other ways - not the least of which is their offer of love and the opportunity
they allow us to express love.
Between abortion and euthanasia, we see mankind in its middle
years at war with the extremities that represent his origin and his destiny; at
war with what he once was, and war with what he will one day be. Even these
"middle years" are marked by death, as we see the world moving in ever-growing
numbers towards a hardening attitude towards life and the procreation of life.
Sexual intimacy, according to God's plan, is for the expression and deepening of
committed love between husband and wife, and for the procreation of children.
The spirit of the world deceives. It seeks to take sexual intimacy out of its
valid context of married love and family, glamourising casual sex and
promiscuity making a joke of infidelity, promoting contraception, endorsing
sexual deviations in the name of freedom. All these demean human dignity. They
are mentally or intrinsically closed to new life. Some of these, like
promiscuity and infidelity, can lead to abortion which is the direct and
deliberate taking of a human life. Again, homosexuality and illicit sex are the
greatest cause of the spread of STDs, one of which is the sure killer AIDS. When
we close the door to life, we open the door to death. How the spirit of death
mocks those it deceives!
When God created man and breathed life into him, He warned
that disobedience would bring death. Much later, when God had led the
Israelites, under Moses' leadership, out of the slavery of Egypt, He said to
them, "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.
Therefore choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may
love the LORD your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the LORD
is your life, and He will give many years in the land... "- (Deut. 30:19-20).
The Christian concern for the dignity of human life flows
directly from the central message of the Gospel of God's love for mankind,
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever
believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
God's offer of eternal life is in stark contrast to the
alternative, which is to perish. In the natural, man faces a serious threat to
his life. It is a threat that cannot be ignored or wished away, much less
denied. It is a reality. The Gospel recognises this and wants us to recognise
it. Jesus spells out this threat as a deliberate malevolence : "The
thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;" and contracts it with His
offer of the fullness of life: "I have come that they may have life, and have
it to the full." (John 10: 10)
The Church continuing the Mission of Christ makes known to
the world God's gift of love and life. Her mission is to make war on the spirit
of death. This is done by word and by deed: boldly yet lovingly speaking God's
Word of life, exposing false and deceitful values as agents of death; and by
offering viable alternatives to contraception and abortion, for it is only when
men know the truth that the Truth can set them free (John 8:32). As always, such
Catholic action must be supported by constant and unflagging intercessory
As announced in the Official of this week's Examiner, in the
Archdiocese of Bombay, March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, will be
celebrated as Pro-Life Day.
The celebration of the Pro-Life Day and the programmes
connected with it could be the beginning of a movement which should result in
creating a pro-life culture in our society.
Is it not the need of the hour for many of our clergy,
religious and lay faithful to seriously consider getting more involved in the
Pro-Life Apostolate? Our Archdiocesan Human Life Committee is available to
impart the required information and training to all these who seek to serve in
this all-important apostolate. Gradually once more and more are trained we could
have Pro-Life centres in every deanery and perhaps even in every parish. We
should be able to create a Pro -Life Culture in our Archdiocese and in our
beloved motherland, so rich in spiritual values.
BISHOP OSWALD GRACIAS
THE EXAMINER MARCH 14, 1998
Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion