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"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 million.

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 prayer.

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

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