Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

In response to an invitation of the Holy Father, the U.S. bishops have asked us to “Share the journey” through prayer and action on behalf of the least among us and those who are suffering on account of the many catastrophes humanitarian and otherwise that have befallen our world. On this Respect Life Sunday, I share with you a fragment of Pope Francis’ address to the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy for Life delivered a few days ago.

“Each one of us is a creature wanted and loved by God for itself, not only as an aggregate of cells, well-organized and selected through the course of the evolution of life. The whole of creation is as inscribed in the special love of God for the human being, which extends to all the generations of mothers, fathers, and their children.

The divine blessing of the origin and promise of an eternal destiny, which are the foundation of the dignity of every life, are of all and for all. The men, women and children of the earth – this is what populations are made of – are the life of the world that God loves and wishes to bring to salvation, excluding no-one.

The biblical account of Creation must always be reread anew, to appreciate all the breadth and depth of the gesture of love of God Who entrusts creation and history of the world to the alliance of man and woman.

This covenant is certainly sealed by the union of love, personal and fruitful, that marks the way of the transmission of life through marriage and the family. However, it goes well beyond this seal. The alliance of man and woman is called to take into its hands the guidance of all society. This is an invitation to responsibility for the world, in culture and politics, in work and in the economy; and also in the Church. It does not mean simply equal opportunities or mutual recognition. It means, above all, the understanding between men and women on the meaning of life and the path of peoples. The man and woman are not called upon solely to speak of love, but to speak with love of what they must do to ensure that human coexistence is realized in the light of God’s love for every creature. To speak and to ally, because neither of the two – neither man by himself, nor woman alone – is able to assume this responsibility. Together they were created, in their blessed difference; together they sinned, for their presumption to supplant God; and together, with the grace of Christ, they return to God’s presence, to honor the care of the world and of history that He entrusted to them.

In short, it is a true cultural revolution that is on the horizon in the history of our time. And the Church, first, must do her part.

From this perspective, it means first and foremost honestly acknowledging delays and shortcomings. The forms of subordination that have sadly marked the history of women must be definitively abandoned. A new beginning must be inscribed in the ethos of peoples, and this must make it into a renewed culture of identity and difference. The recently-advanced hypothesis of reopening the way for the dignity of the person by radically neutralizing sexual difference and, therefore, the understanding between man and woman, is not right. Instead of counteracting the negative interpretations of sexual difference, which mortify its irreducible value for human dignity, it seeks in effect to cancel out such difference, proposing techniques and practices that make it irrelevant for the development of the person and for human relationships. But the utopia of the “neutral” removes both the human dignity of the sexually different constitution, and the personal quality of the generative transmission of life. The biological and psychical manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows us to perceive as completely available to free choice – which it is not! – thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nurtures the alliance between man and woman and which renders it creative and fruitful.

The mysterious bond of the creation of the world with the generation of the Son, which is revealed in the Son Who makes Himself man in the womb of Mary – Mother of Jesus, Mother of God – for our love, will never cease to leave us awed and moved. This revelation definitively illuminates the mystery of being and the meaning of life. The image of generation radiates, from here, a profound wisdom on life. Inasmuch as it is received as a gift, life is exalted in the gift: generating it regenerates us, spending it enriches us.

It is necessary to accept the challenge posed by the intimidation of the generation of human life, almost as if it were a mortification of the woman and a threat to collective wellbeing.

The generative alliance of man and woman is a safeguard for the global humanism of men and women, not a handicap. Our history will not be renewed if we deny this truth.

The passion for the accompaniment of and care for life, throughout its entire individual and social lifespan, requires the rehabilitation of an ethos of compassion or tenderness for the generation and regeneration of the human being in its difference.

It means, first and foremost, rediscovering the sensibility for the various ages of life, in particular those of children and the elderly. All that is in them that is delicate and fragile, vulnerable and corruptible, is not a matter that ought to concern exclusively the fields of medicine and wellbeing. There are at stake parts of the soul and of human sensibility that demand to be listened to and recognized, conserved and appreciated, by individuals and community alike…

The witness of faith in God’s mercy, which refines and fulfills all justice, is the essential condition for the circulation of true compassion between different generations. Without it, the culture of the secular city has no chance of resisting the anesthesia and debasement of humanism.”

 

Fr. Roberto M. Cid