The true value of life

Posted9/20/2016 1:00 AM

By Kathryn Jean Lopez

"Life is a gift, not an accident," Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput said in a recent speech at the University of Notre Dame. "And the point of a life is to become the kind of fully human person who knows and loves God above everything else, and reflects that love to others."


He was reflecting on the life of his 32-year-old niece, who had died the week before of cancer.

His remarks came a few days after Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York wouldn't let a lie about life linger. A group called Catholics for Choice, which supports legal abortion, is running an ad campaign called "Abortion in Good Faith." The ad essentially insists on taxpayer funding of abortion -- a position that the Catholic man running for vice president has been a proponent of.

But contrary to what Tim Kaine may say, you can't claim Catholic credentials and advocate such a thing. As Dolan, the head of the U.S. bishops' pro-life committee, wrote in response to the Catholics for Choice ads: "the use of the name 'Catholic' as a platform to promote the taking of innocent human life is offensive not only to Catholics, but to all who expect honesty and forthrightness in public discourse."

Dolan quoted Pope Francis, laying out the unequivocal view of the Church: "Life must always be welcomed and protected ... from conception to natural death. All of us are called to respect life and care for it."

Dolan said the "extreme ads promote abortion as if it were a social good. But abortion kills the most defenseless among us, harms women and tears at the heart of families. Pushing for public funding would force all taxpaying Americans to be complicit in the violence of abortion and an industry that puts profit above the well-being of women and children."

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One could almost hear Mother Teresa, who was made an official saint this month, in the background. Hillary Clinton was in the 1994 Washington, D.C., audience when Mother Teresa said: "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion."

Dolan, in his statement, pointed to polls that show that the majority of Americans are opposed to the taxpayer funding of abortion, including 45 percent of those who describe themselves as pro-choice.

He accused the ad campaign -- and by extension, I'll add, the whole miserable abortion industry and its advocates -- of pitting the "needs of pregnant women against those of their unborn children. This is a false choice. Catholics and all people of good will are called to love them both. Consider supporting local pregnancy help centers, which do incredible work caring for mothers and children alike in a manner consistent with true social justice and mercy."

This is the better part -- when we point to the choices for life and love. This is where we get to be the generous people we are called to be.

We're living at a time when we are faced with some dramatic decisions about what kind of people we want to be. The future is not a given. We must take a hard look at ourselves and our culture, not just during this wretched presidential election season, but every day.


Chaput offered this challenge: "The task of renewing the life of our nation requires a different kind of people." He quoted Václav Havel on the "power of the powerless," consisting "not in clever political strategies but in the simple daily discipline of living within the truth and refusing to lie."

Currently, we lie in the name of tolerance and love. We lie in the name of law. We lie to ourselves. It's time to begin again and see what's right in front of our eyes. Maybe we should start with gratitude for life. It's the seedbed for good stewardship. And selflessness -- a call to duty and honor as daily practices of virtue -- could eventually even impact our politics.

Email Kathryn Jean Lopez at

© 2016 United Feature Syndicate

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