This week we will call to mind two important social justice issues that impact our community, the Church, and the world. On Monday we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his fight against the sin of racism, and on Saturday, we pray for the legal protection of unborn children. Both call us to uphold the sacredness and dignity of each human life inside and outside of the womb.
Respect for human life and dignity is the central theme of Catholic Social Teaching. Why? Because the human person is the only creature made in the image and likeness of God. As the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says:
108. The fundamental message of Sacred Scripture proclaims that the human person is a creature of God (cf. Ps 139:14-18), and sees in his being in the image of God the element that characterizes and distinguishes him: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen 1:27). God places the human creature at the center and summit of the created order. Man (in Hebrew, “adam”) is formed from the earth (“adamah”) and God blows into his nostrils the breath of life (cf. Gen 2:7). Therefore, “being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. Further, he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead” .
In 2018, two important documents were issued by the Church on the evils of racism. The first was on the national level and came from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The pastoral letter, Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, defines the sin of racism, its harmful effects, and the actions that we as Catholics needs to take to eradicate it from our Church and our society. The second pastoral letter, Agents for the New Creation, was produced on the local level from Archbishop Vigneron. In it he says:
Racism produces three evil fruits. First, the recipient of these racial prejudices is greatly harmed. He is deprived of his inherent human dignity by actions or attitude of another person and thereby may struggle to realize his God-given value. Second, there is a societal harm from racism. As attitudes of injustice are transmitted to others, it becomes harder for us to reflect the equality of all men through societal structures. Finally, as with all sin, there is a self-inflicted harm. The perpetrator of racial prejudice disfigures his own understanding of right and wrong and obscures his ability to see truth through the light of the Gospel.
Let us pray that through our efforts, all our brothers and sisters no matter their age, gender, or color of skin would be respected, valued, and cherished. This is our call as members of the Body of Christ.
Please plan to join us on Monday at 10 AM at the Cathedral for a Mass for Justice and Peace and/ or at 7 PM at St. Aloysius for a holy hour during which we will pray in a special way for the dignity and respect of each human life to be upheld.
With my prayers for a blessed week,