April 9, 2021

Editorial

Easter celebrates life

During the Easter season, Christians celebrate life. More specifically, we celebrate the great victory that was won when Christ surrendered to death in order to restore life to its predominant place in the realm of existence. Because of Christ’s resurrection, life now has the last word. We rejoice during Easter because we know that sin and death have been conquered by love, the animating principle of all life.

Of course, we human beings still sin, and we all have to die, but we believe that life triumphs in the end. That’s why we are adamant in our defense of life. It’s why we treat all of God’s creation—life itself—with profound reverence and respect.

As Pope Francis reminds us constantly, we must guard against the idea that we are free to cast life aside or abuse what God has made casually and without regard for its dignity. Life is a precious gift to be nurtured, cherished and protected always.

The Catholic Church believes and teaches that all human life is sacred from conception to natural death because each person is created in the image and likeness of God. That is why we oppose all threats to human life and dignity evident in contemporary society, including abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and capital punishment.

We join with Pope Francis in noting that the right to life of the unborn “is the most fundamental right. This is not first a religious issue; it is a human rights issue.” (Pope Francis to American Catholic bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Region IX, on Jan. 16, 2020).

As Pope Francis says in his 2021 World Day of Peace Message:

The very concept of the person, which originated and developed in Christianity, fosters the pursuit of a fully human development. Person always signifies relationship, not individualism; it affirms inclusion, not exclusion, unique and inviolable dignity, not exploitation. Each human person is an end in himself or herself, and never simply a means to be valued only for his or her usefulness. Persons are created to live together in families, communities and societies, where all are equal in dignity. Human rights derive from this dignity, as do human duties, like the responsibility to welcome and assist the poor, the sick, the excluded, every one of our neighbors, near or far in space and time. (#8-9)

We have rights and duties as women and men made in the image and likeness of God, and Easter affirms our responsibilities as people who have been liberated from the death grip of selfishness and sin.

Our Church also vigorously defends the idea that all creation is to be reverenced as the sacred instrument of God’s tender love and mercy. The air we breathe, the land we cultivate, the water we drink and the minerals we unearth as sources of energy and fuel are all precious in the sight of God. These are gifts to be treasured and used carefully for the common good. They are not to be exploited, wasted or discarded carelessly.

Quoting from his encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home,” our Holy Father observes:

The encyclical “Laudato Si” is fully aware that all creation is interconnected. It also highlights our need to listen to the cry of the poor and, at the same time, to the cry of creation. Constant and attentive listening leads in turn to effective care for the Earth, our common home, and for our brothers and sisters in need. Here I would once again point out that “a sense of deep communion with the rest of nature cannot be authentic if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings. Peace, justice and care for creation are three inherently connected questions, which cannot be separated in such a way as to be treated individually, lest we fall back into reductionism” (#15-16).

Jesus’ death on the cross and his miraculous resurrection have restored life to its full dignity. No longer can the culture of death claim dominion over us. Life is triumphant, and Jesus, the Lord of Life, claims us as his own.

Because we celebrate life, during this Easter season and always, we insist on the dignity and human rights of all people regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political preferences, economic or social standing. We defend the civil rights of everyone. We reject all forms of hatred, prejudice and bias. We accept all people of good will, and we recognize every one—including people we dislike or disagree with—as sisters and brothers in the one family of God.

Life has the last word—always. Let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!

—Daniel Conway

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