St. Pope John Paul II, in his powerful encyclical letter “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”), challengingly said “How can we fail to consider the violence against life done to millions of human beings, especially children, who are forced into poverty, malnutrition and hunger because of an unjust distribution of resources between peoples and between social classes?
“And what of violence inherent not only in wars as such, but in the scandalous arms trade, which spawns the many armed conflicts which stain our world with blood?
“What of the spreading of death caused by reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance?”
St. John Paul then linked these deadly affronts against life to the lethal attacks upon human beings at life’s earliest and final stages – through abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
Attempting to raise our consciousness regarding the vastness of assaults against humanity, St. John Paul said, “It is impossible to catalogue completely the vast array of threats to human life, so many are the forms, whether explicit or hidden, in which they appear today!”
He powerfully called this evil reality a “structure of sin” manifested in a culture characterised by a denial of our solidarity with each other – especially with the poor and vulnerable – leading to what can be called a veritable “culture of death.”
St. John Paul insightfully saw that this “culture of death” is widely promoted by powerful cultural, economic and political forces that devalue the lives of human beings who require and deserve greater acceptance, love and care.
He saw what so many don’t care to see: that in a society overly concerned with efficiency and personal lifestyle choices, that ill, handicapped, poor and vulnerable persons, or any others considered useless or a burden, are to be “looked upon as an enemy to be resisted or eliminated. In this way a kind of ‘conspiracy against life’ is unleashed” .
St. John Paul said of all this, “It is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak.”
And so, we the followers of the Prince of Peace, the lover of the poor and vulnerable, the Almighty Creator of the very earth we all inhabit must nonviolently enter the battle!
With the weapons of faith, prayer, compassion, wisdom, courage, generosity, self-sacrifice, perseverance, truth, justice and love let us challenge the “culture of death.”
There is no time to lose!
Every single day unborn babies are being brutally dismembered and aborted, brothers and sisters in Christ are being tortured and killed, children and adults are starving, people are drinking filthy water, human beings are barely existing in sub-human conditions, wars are plaguing dozens of countries while several rich nations continue profiting from selling weapons of war, children in need of an education are instead forced to work, people are suffering in modern slavery under the new name of human trafficking, migrants and refugees fleeing armed conflicts and dire poverty are pleading at our borders for help, our earth home is increasingly being polluted and the climate of our planet is dangerously heating up.
Yes, all of this is overwhelming. No one person can right all these wrongs, and cure all these ills. But all of us together can.
Every single person can make a difference! Remember, Jesus is saying to each one of us: “You are the light of the world!”
Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. He is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan and parish gatherings from Santa Clara, Calif. to Baltimore, Md. Tony can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org