Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
October is the month of the Rosary. We are invited to practice this devotion with special intensity. Last year, Pope Francis asked us to also recite the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel and Memorare.
This year, the Pope has designated October as an extraordinary month of mission so that all Christians remember that the Church is essentially missionary. That is the wish of Jesus Christ. In the coming weeks, we will reflect on the mission of the Church and every Christian.
In the United States, October is also Respect Life month, designated by the US bishops.
There is no question that in the modern world, human life is under constant threat because of the prevailing “throw away culture” that excludes from the protection of the institutions of the state entire classes of persons. Human beings are treated like replaceable parts in an economic system, instead of unique, irreplaceable beings that cannot be repeated, created in the image and likeness of God.
Euthanasia, assisted suicide and legal abortion are three tragic manifestations of the deep anthropological crisis in which we find ourselves.
Last month, at a meeting with Italian oncologists, Pope Francis reminded them that “technology is not at the service of man when it reduces him to a “thing”, when it distinguishes between those who still deserve to be treated and those who do not, because they are deemed a burden, and sometimes even a waste. The practice of euthanasia, which is already legal in several states, only seemingly aims to encourage personal freedom; in reality it is based on a utilitarian view of the person, who becomes useless or is regarded as an expense if, from the medical point of view, he or she has no hope of improvement or can no longer escape pain. On the contrary, the commitment to accompany patients and their loved ones throughout all stages of the journey, seeking to alleviate their suffering through palliative care or by offering a family environment in hospices, which are increasingly numerous, contributes to creating a culture and practice more attentive to the value of each person.”
During a recent intervention in a congress to promote respect for life, Pope Francis stated: “No human being can ever be unfit for life, whether due to age, state of health or quality of existence. Every child who appears in a woman’s womb is a gift that changes a family’s history, the life of fathers and mothers, grandparents and of brothers and sisters. That child needs to be welcomed, loved and nurtured. Always!…
The Church’s teaching on this point is clear: human life is sacred and inviolable, and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes must be strongly discouraged. It is an expression of an inhumane eugenic mentality that deprives families of the chance to accept, embrace and love the weakest of their children.
Sometimes we hear people say, “You Catholics do not accept abortion; it’s a problem with your faith”. No, the problem is pre-religious. Faith has nothing to do with it. It comes afterwards, but it has nothing to do with it. The problem is a human problem. It is pre-religious. Let’s not blame faith for something that from the beginning has nothing to do with it. The problem is a human problem. Just two questions will help us understand this clearly. Two questions. First: is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second: is it licit to hire a killer to resolve a problem? I leave the answer to you. This is the point. Don’t blame religion for a human issue. It is not licit. Never, never eliminate a human life or hire a killer to solve a problem.
Abortion is never the answer that women and families are looking for. Rather, it is fear of illness and isolation that makes parents waver.”
We, Christians, must bear constant and consistent witness for human life, especially in its more vulnerable stages. We must denounce structures of sin, such as legal abortion and euthanasia, work diligently to change this tragic and unjust reality. Pope Francis’ exhortation to Italian oncologists is valid for all of us: “Never lose heart as a result of the lack of understanding you may encounter, or in the face of the persistent suggestion of more radical and hasty paths…
In your commitment to the sick, to the healthcare system and to society as a whole, I invite you to always keep in mind the example of Jesus, who was mankind’s greatest teacher, to inspire your gestures and make him your own travelling companion. May he — whom one can never tire of contemplating, so great is the light that emanates from him — inspire the sick and help them to find the strength not to break the bonds of love, to offer their suffering for brothers and sisters, to keep alive their friendship with God. May he — who in a certain way is deemed your colleague, as a physician sent by the Father to heal humanity — inspire doctors to always seek the good of others, to expend themselves generously, to fight for a more supportive world. May he inspire everyone to be close to those who are suffering. Closeness, that very important and much needed attitude. The Lord also implemented it, closeness, in our midst. May he inspire everyone to be close to those who suffer, above all to the little ones, and to put the weak in first place, so that they may nurture a more human society and relationships characterized by gratuitousness, rather than opportunity.”
Fr. Roberto M. Cid