Just over a quarter of a century ago, Pope Saint John Paul II released his encyclical, Evangelium vitae, in response to the ever-increasing attacks against human life and dignity. Each Friday, we aim to explore a different aspect the prophetic papal document with today’s passage drawn from Section 12 of the encyclical where Pope John Paul says:
“This reality is characterized by the emergence of a culture which denies solidarity and, in many cases, takes the form of a veritable ‘culture of death’. This culture is actively fostered by powerful cultural, economic and political currents which encourage an idea of society excessively concerned with efficiency,” Pope Saint John Paul II, Section 12, Evangelium vitae.
Reflecting upon this passage is Jenny Ingles, Director of Fertility and Life Ministries for the Diocese of Lansing. Jenny writes:
“The words of Saint Pope John Paul II in Section 12 of Evangelium vitae ring eerily in my ears as I view the wider culture around us. What, in our secular culture, do we base human worth on? How does our society define what a person is, when they begin being such a person and when they cease to be such a person? To answer that question we need only to look at the laws in our nation, the activities of the people and the movements springing up."
"Legalized abortion insists that some persons are not persons. And depending on the state in which one resides, the criteria for personhood changes as the laws change. IVF has become common place in our country. Personhood is determined by someone else who sifts through embryos and classifies them as worthy or unworthy to be given a chance at life. The unworthy are discarded while others are destined to be frozen for an indeterminate amount of time. And while the secular debate rages on regarding when these defenseless people have a right to be born a movement for Euthanasia is gaining traction throughout the States."
"Our society no longer sees fit only dictating when a person becomes a person but now wants authority to determine that some people have ceased being people and are worthy of death."
"John Paul II so wisely understood this 'culture of death' to be rooted in societies excessive concern with 'efficiency'. It is fueled by 'by powerful cultural, economic and political currents'. This grim assessment of our culture begins Evangelium vitae and serves to remind us that the Truth of the human person is found beyond secular society. It is firmly rooted in God."
"As we spend the next year examining this encyclical, we must be aware of what is going on around us, but at the same time, hold close to God and remember who we are and who we are not. We are not some animal that gains or loses personhood based on some ‘scientific’ criteria. We are adopted sons and daughters of the creator of life who has made us in His Image and Likeness.”
Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!