“In Catholic belief, all human life, no matter how wounded, flawed, young or old, is sacred because it comes from God. And we have an obligation to defend it. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God. Catholic teaching on abortion and sexuality is part of the same integral vision of the human person that fuels Catholic teaching on immigration, economic justice, racism, war and peace.
In the American tradition, people have a right to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic and political problem facing their community. For Catholics, that’s not just a privilege. It’s not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel, and a practical application of Christian faith and love to the realities of daily life. Obviously, we have a duty to treat other people with charity and justice, even when we disagree with them. But that can never be an excuse for our own silence.
Believers can’t be silent in public life and faithful to Jesus Christ at the same time, any more than they can claim to be ‘Christian’ and then kill – or quietly allow others to kill — an unborn child with Down syndrome. Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not coercion. It’s honesty. It’s an act of truth-telling. It’s vital to the health of every democracy. And again, it’s also a duty — not only of our religious faith, but also of our citizenship.
All law has moral content. It’s an expression of what we ‘ought’ to do. Therefore law teaches as well as regulates. Good laws can help make a nation more human; more just; more noble. But ultimately even good laws are useless if they govern a people who, by their choices, make themselves venal and callous, foolish and self-absorbed.
As I’ve suggested many times before: It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our moral convictions in the public square. Anything less is a kind of cowardice. But it’s even more important to live what it means to be genuinely human and ‘prolife’ by our actions. And that requires fidelity to God, love for spouse and children; loyalty to friends; generosity to the poor; honesty and mercy in dealing with others; discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.
We create a culture of life in the measure that we give our lives to others. The deepest kind of revolution never comes from violence. Even politics, important as it is, is a poor tool for changing human hearts. Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people — people like each of you here in this room.”
– Archbishop Charles Chaput
August 23, 2013