Friday, October 16, 2009

Pittsburgh Bishop Celebrates Respect Life Month with Letter on Culture of Life.

The Catholic Church's annual Respect Life month has caused Pittsburgh Bishop Zubik to write a letter, titled "The Church Living!," that comprehensively outlines the church's positions on preservation of life.

Per DioPitt, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh website, the letter will be distributed to households throughout the diocese:

A pastoral letter is an instruction addressed by the bishop to all in the Diocese of Pittsburgh in his role as the chief teacher of the faith.
Prime among threats to human life “are those which take innocent human lives,” including abortion, euthanasia, genocide, murder, cloning, the destruction of human embryos and “unjust killing in wars and capital punishment,” Bishop Zubik states.

Bishop Zubik cites other threats to human life as well, including “economic inequality, prejudice and bigotry, human trafficking; prostitution and pornography” and “a litany of other insults to and assaults on the absolute value of human life and the inestimable dignity of the human person.”

In the letter, the Bishop cites September 11 as the inspiration for his contemplation of fluctuating faith in daily life:

Since that day, I’ve pondered much why it is that only after extraordinary tragedies and inexplicable events many come to a greater need for God and a deeper appreciation of life and living itself, rather than having a consistent embrace of life each day.

and emphasizes that the Church is not just for the believer:

In order for the Church to teach clearly and accurately, the Church must recognize and embrace her sacred duty as The Church Living both to all its members and to the world-at-large. As Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical by the same name: “The Gospel of Life is not for believers alone. It is for everyone. The issue of life and its defense and pro- motion is not a concern of Christians alone” (#101). How important it is to start at the beginning.


The Church Living is a sign of the powerful dimension of love within every human heart—love that wants and needs to connect with God and the world. The Church, which Pope John Paul II called “an expert in humanity,” proclaims a vision of the world in which people may live in peace, freedom and truth.

The Bishop lays out the Catholic Church's "pro-life" platform in point 28:

Prime among threats are those which take inno- cent human lives. These include abortion, which is the deliberate killing of a human being before birth; euthanasia, which is the putting to death of those who are sick, disabled or dying; genocide, killing off an entire group of people; mur- der, willingly snuffing out another’s life; cloning, using science to replicate life; the destruction of human embryos, for medical research where the end can never justi- fy the means; unjust killing in wars; capital punishment. Other threats include econom- ic inequality; prejudice and bigotry; human trafficking; prostitution and pornography; and a litany of other insults to and assaults on the absolute value of human life and the inestimable dignity of the human person.

and uses the issue of abortion to outline the "slippery slope" down which society has fallen by its legalization:

It is also the damaging effect on human consciences. If public policy permits the killing of innocent human life in the womb, what else, or who else, will the law permit citizens to destroy? Physician-assisted suicide, though done in smaller numbers, especially weakens the moral fabric of society by allowing members of a profession whose vocation is healing to put to death lives they are entrusted to save.

To promote these teachings, he highlights each community group and gives special instructions for how they must enact the enforcement of these teachings. The young, the Church elders, public officials are all instructed in how to work toward the Church's goals. But he states that abortion and euthanasia are only two issues on the spectrum and lists, via bullet point, the various other cultural and social efforts that church members must make to promote a "culture of life."

The Bishop is receiving some modest criticism from anti-abortion activists for elevating other culture of life issues to the level of concern as abortion.


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