Saint Pope John Paul II defines respect for all life with a twist, by first defining what it means to disrespect all life in his encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, where he states:
“Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free persons; all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honor due to the Creator.”1
The atrocities mentioned by Saint Pope John Paul II in Vertitatis Splendor denote intrinsic evils that take and demean life. He calls us to have respect for all life from conception to the grave.
One simply needs to look at the news to see that as a human race, we are not doing a very good job at respecting all life. As a human race we have committed all of the intrinsic evils noted by Saint Pope John Paul II.
Since we are all created in the image and likeness of God, it is incumbent upon each of us to have respect for all life, in the same manner that God respects each one of us. God gives each of us the utmost respect every day, because He loves every person that He has created. Therefore, to deliberately take the life of and/or demean any human being is wrong and goes against God’s will. Logic tells us that no true good can come from the destruction of any innocent life.
Would you have wanted to be aborted, murdered, euthanized, or been a victim of genocide? Do you want to be tortured or dismembered? Do you want to live in subhuman conditions, be imprisoned for your religious beliefs, be deported, enslaved, or trafficked for prostitution? Do you want to work in a sweat shop for pennies on the dollar? The answer is no to all of the above. Therefore, we need to reinstate the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If we give respect to others like God respect each of us, the world will be a much better place in which to live.
What is the next hot-button issue?? What about the use of contraceptives? What does the Church say about that? We’ll address the answer to that question in our next reflection. Don’t miss it!
1 Saint Pope John Paul II. Encyclical Letter: Veritatis Splendor, par 80. Holy See: Vaticano, 1993, Print.