In several talks and homilies during his recent pastoral visit to the United States, Pope Benedict related the theme “Christ, Our Hope” to the defense and promotion of human life.
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral, for example, Benedict emphasized that the Church and all its members are “called to proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of life. … The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must be the heart of the new evangelization. For true life—our salvation—can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love which are God’s gracious gift. “This,” he continued, “is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody.”
What obstacles have hampered Catholics in the United States in their struggles to build a culture of life? Pope Benedict explained that American secularism has led to a separation of faith from everyday life. And this tendency is “aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and religion,” so-called cafeteria Catholicism. Many are “living as if God did not exist.” So “rather than being transformed and renewed in mind [by our faith], Christians are easily tempted to conform themselves to the spirit of this age.” This, he added, is evidenced “in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who promote an alleged right to abortion” (Responses of His Holiness … to the Questions Posed by the Bishops, April 16).
We must allow ourselves to be transformed by our faith, which “helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does,” for “God’s unconditional love … points to a meaning and purpose for all human life” (Meeting with Young People Having Disabilities, St. Joseph’s seminary, April 19). Christian truths—that every human is created in God’s image and loved and redeemed by God, “alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world—including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb” (Homily at Mass in Yankee Stadium, April 20). In and through Christ, our Hope, we can renew the call to all Americans to a greater respect and love for each unique human life—from conception through natural death.
Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops