The dignity of human life

Our conviction about the dignity and sanctity of human life is confirmed in the Scriptures, the word of God. The Book of Genesis teaches us that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). ‘Thou shall not kill’, says the Lord in transmitting the commandments to Moses (Exodus 20:13). ‘Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live’, Moses warned the chosen people (Deuteronomy 30:19). And, of course, the whole life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus confirmed the dignity of human life and showed how dear each individual person is to God.

Jesus said, ‘Even the hairs of your head have all been counted’ (Luke 12:7). This teaching of the Scriptures, along with the clear and consistent teaching of the Church throughout the ages, reveals God’s infinite love for the life He has created and therefore the love we should have for life. In view of this testimony, the primordial transgression against God, the giver of life, is the act of destroying human life itself.

God holds us responsible for upholding human dignity. Each person, created by God, is endowed with a sacred and inviolable human dignity. In the Book of Genesis, God describes the persons he creates as ‘very good’ – not because of anything they have accomplished or produced, but by the very fact of their existence as his creatures.

Never has that responsibility for upholding human dignity been more difficult than in our day, in the third Christian millennium. At a time when many in society tend to judge a person’s worth on an obscure and subjective ‘quality of life’ scale, we are convinced that human dignity is not based on productivity or usefulness. As members of the human family and as Christians, we must ensure that every human life is protected from conception until natural death. This responsibility must be accepted on many levels. Each person has a charge – society and its leaders have a duty, and most assuredly so does the church community. Respect for every human being should be our first priority. Our words, actions, and prayers must reflect God’s command that we love one another as he has loved us.

An important indicator of a growing indifference toward human life is the position of those who excuse themselves from the abortion debate by arguing that they are ‘personally opposed to abortion but publicly neutral’. This display of indifference sends the message that it is acceptable to withhold protection from certain persons. The idea that a person can oppose abortion personally and defend and support it publicly is no more applicable to abortion than it is to any other critical social or moral question that challenges our world today.

Sanctioned disregard for the unborn has broadened into a so-called ‘right to die’ and a ‘duty to die’ mentality. Our elderly and disabled brothers and sisters are now seen as burdensome to society. Isolated but well-publicized efforts to give legal sanction to assisting in the suicide of sick or elderly people are only thinly disguised attempts to legalize the killing of such persons. This eugenic philosophy only adds to the problems of our societies, already mired in violence and death.

Deep within us is the voice of God’s natural moral law that finds expression in our conscience. Even when that voice has been silenced by so many alternative views of life in our highly secular and materialistic world, it continues to echo in our hearts. Some things we know are right and others wrong. Only human beings have the gift of knowing what we ‘ought to do’. The awareness of this distinction so critical to a civilization of love is rooted in the moral law etched into our very being by God at our creation.

14 Responses to “The dignity of human life”


  1. 1 Cathy March 18, 2010 at 00:00

    I wonder at those who just don’t get it…You will not kill!!! Is that so hard to understand. Doesn’t require much explanation to me. From wee unborn to oldest of us all, it’s God’s will not mine that should be done!! Thank you for this post!

  2. 2 Karinann March 18, 2010 at 01:33

    Gabriella,
    As always, an excellent post. As someone who was among those who didn’t “get it”, all I can say is that when we wander from the God who created us and all that He has written in our hearts, the lies the devil tells become easy to buy into. I am not excusing myself or anyone who commits the sin of killing someone either through abortion, euthanasia or any other way, I am just saying that our culture has a very hardened heart. It is difficult if not impossible to hear God in that state.
    There is always hope and God’s grace. I am proof that hearts can be softened, God can be listened to, and that repentance, mercy and grace heal.
    I truly believe that prayer, fasting and witnesses from those who have made the turn around will lead to a culture of life. Scripture is clear as Gabriella pointed out~ we must choose life; we must also help our brothers and sisters to do so.

  3. 3 Victor S E MOUBARAK March 18, 2010 at 01:43

    Quite simply … it’s because people no longer care. For the unborn, for the infirm or the aged. And one day, maybe, no one will care for them too.

  4. 4 Mary Nicewarner March 18, 2010 at 02:15

    I pray that I will see the day that abortion ends worldwide. What bothers me most is the failure of those who are against abortion to speak up. People think that they can be like Pontius Pilate and wash their hands of the matter. They can’t. The very fact that half the Catholics in America voted for a pro-choice president is an abomination. They are either not practicing their faith or deliberately going against it. Catholics know that abortion is murder, the Church is very clear on this, and yet they still voted against life. I just don’t get it. May God have mercy on us.

  5. 5 Judy March 18, 2010 at 02:22

    Thank you for this very profound and NEEDED post Gabriella.

    I know that your words are only TOO TRUE in that I have experienced the things of which you write in recent days on a personal level:

    1) One of my best friends gave birth to a beautiful baby boy a last month. This sweet little guy came into the world with Downs Syndrome. Upon trying to find support groups and future play groups for her son, my friend could find NONE in her area because, it was told to her by medical staff, these blessed babies are all aborted…95%!!!!! She couldn’t find a group because the babies don’t make it out of the womb! (May God have mercy on us all)

    2) In the recent death of my former sister-in-law, who lay crumpled and completely dependent upon medical staff for ALL care for the past 31 years in a nursing home due to a brain aneurysm (failed) surgery…I listened as the minister of the home where she lived gave a heartfelt and very moving sermon on the SANCTITY of human life…and how each one of us is on a journey that is unique and designed from all time by GOD AMIGHTY and therefore, whether we are “up and about” or “strapped to a wheelchair and crumpled up in a bed for 31 years” EACH person is dignified in Christ and EACH person can live their life to the fullest of his or her potential!

    Thanks for letting me share those two thoughts with you…they seem to echo in example of what you have shared in your post…both in different, yet very valid ways.

    God bless you and thank you for always having the courage to write the TRUTH:)

    ~Judy~

  6. 6 Cinzia March 18, 2010 at 06:17

    A fantastic post. Much needed.

    It is interesting to note that not many women speak out, clearly and honestly, about the abortions they have had as a means of “contraception” or for whatever other reason …. considering there are millions of abortions taking place in the world – 150,000 of them every year in Australia alone (not an accurate statistic because many abortions are not even formally “counted”).

    The only explanation I can give to this strange silence from so many “pro-choicers” and modern, free, women, who declare strongly that they have a right to choose …. the only explanation is that, as Gabriella says, deep deep down within all of us, there is a conscience making some kind of sound!

    “Deep within us is the voice of God’s natural moral law that finds expression in our conscience. Even when than voice has been silenced by so many alternative views of life in our highly secular and materialistic world, it continues to echo in our hearts …”

    How true!

    Personally I find that every single time, without fail, that I mention the abhorrence and tragedy of abortion, I get told that I am judgemental and how dare I judge other women and tell them what they should and shouldn’t do.

    It is difficult indeed trying to have a meaningful and honest conversation with a pro-choicer. They have all the “usual” answers to all the questions – and that is that. People like me are judgemental, old-fashioned, moronic, from the dark ages and highly self-righteous.

    Well, so be it … if it means standing up for the right to life of a defenceless and innocent human being … I am proud and happy to be all of the above.

    Well done Gabriella. Your honesty and courage are outstanding.

  7. 7 Antonella March 18, 2010 at 06:55

    The fruit of abortion is nuclear war ………Blessed Mother Teresa.

  8. 8 Jeffrey Low March 18, 2010 at 09:09

    Welcome back Antonela from South Africa😉

    The Church nowhere says that freedom of conscience gives one carte blanche. You cannot be a good Catholic and endorse an intrinsic evil. If such an endorsement doesn’t prick your conscience, then your conscience is malfunctioning and needs to go to the repair shop.

    Besides, we’re not talking here about an especially convoluted question or one that only recently has come to the attention of moral theologians. Abortion is an easy issue to deal with at the moral level. There is no reason to scratch one’s head and wonder, “Is abortion morally permissible? Is it something that I, as a Catholic, can endorse? Is it something that I, as a Catholic politician, can foster?” Freedom of conscience just doesn’t enter into the equation.
    Abortion is a grave sin, which means promoting abortion is a grave sin. Promoting abortion publicly is a public (or manifest) grave sin. Doing so repeatedly is to persist in a manifest grave sin. VOTING FOR SOMEONE WHO PROMOTES ABORTION IS A GRAVE SIN. Refusing to stop promoting abortion after having become aware of the sinfulness of abortion is to “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin.”

    • 9 Antonella March 18, 2010 at 10:35

      Thank you Jeffrey.

      There is nothing more helpless than the unborn baby who struggles to survive drawing away in pain from the saline injection or struggling to breathe when he is prematurely and forcibly expelled into the world. More than one person has heard the whimpering of the aborted infant in garbage cans of the pathology lab.

      Infact this very disturbing growth in all nations is making fertile ground for the “abortion” of Jesus Christ. Do away with God’s commandments and laws…take Him out of schools, out of the law that governs countries etc etc etc. Seems to me we are heading for ONE very “Godless society world wide” which paves the way for hatred and wars……..ultimately nuclear destruction of many nations.

  9. 11 anne bender March 18, 2010 at 14:30

    “Choose life then, that you may live” I love that! The pictures you chose for this post are adorable!

  10. 12 bigjohn March 18, 2010 at 20:40

    “When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment …” … I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us,” — and God will look at you and say not, ‘Did you succeed?’ but ‘Did you try?’ (Congressman Henry Hyde)

    Therefore
    The most important thing that you can do is to become personally involved. Unless you do, nothing will change.

    Educate
    First yourself, then others

    Volunteer
    To help in your local pro-life group or pregnancy help center.

    Lobby
    Your elected officials

    Write
    Those who support Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion and anti-family groups. Write your newspapers, your radio and TV stations.

    Vote
    Nothing will change unless you do. Remember that any candidate for public office who permits, supports or wants you to pay for the direct killing of almost every third baby conceived in America — that candidate is simply disqualified from holding public office.

    Support
    Your stewardship is vital. This movement is mostly volunteer, but as this controversy becomes more intense, we will need heavier and heavier financial support. Henry Hyde is clearly also speaking of such tangible support.

    Pray
    Pray as if everything depends upon your prayers, for it just might be so. Pray that God will stay His hand. Do we, will we, as a nation, deserve His help and His mercy ?

    “The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.” Thomas Jefferson “To Republican Citizens of Wash. County Maryland.” March 31, 1809

  11. 13 Agostino March 18, 2010 at 23:33

    Hi Hi there,

    Hope you can support this.
    Hope its something Catholics and all pro-lifers for that matter can train themselves to do.
    I want to introduce to you catholicvalues.co.uk – a new non-profit making price comparison website. All the revenue we make (less minimal admin costs) goes to pro-life charities. So next time you’re renewing your car insurance or any financial service for that matter, if you come to our website and choose your supplier there, you’ll save money and know that your transaction has triggered a commission which will go to pro-life causes. Simple. No bother. No catch. Please spread the word. And have a look for yourself!

    Kind regards
    Agostino DiFalco

    http://www.catholicvalues.co.uk
    You save money – We save lives ,

  12. 14 Cinzia March 19, 2010 at 07:32

    Mitchell – that’s the most adorable video I have ever seen !!! Dad was enjoying it as much as the baby …

    what a wonder … human life, particularly at that magical stage.

    Going back for more🙂


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