The Pastoral Letter on the Protection of New Human Life
Bishop Reding of Hamilton died of Cancer on December 8, 1983.The Following is the last pastoral letter that he wrote. September 25, 1983
The opening of the school year is a time when we easily focus our attention on the children and youth of today. It is our prayer and hope that they will live to make our world more secure; a place where peace and compassion will be practiced by all. We also hope that they will know true happiness themselves and be at peace with their God and neighbour.
These are great and noble dreams, and in Canada, individuals, families, church groups, school and government bodies have endeavoured, in the past to accomplish these ideals. A “better life” for all has come to be seen as the Canadian Dream- the basic goal of our Canadian society.
How then, I ask, could we in Canada have allowed ourselves to fall into the tragic error of assuming the deaths of today’s offspring could in some abstruse way promote this “better life”? Yet, this is exactly what we have done insofar as we have come to allow and accept the appalling evil of abortion.
It would seem that far to many Canadians have settled fro the view that the price of the “better life” that we search after, both for ourselves and especially for our children, is in fact to be obtained by the annihilation of hundreds of thousand of unborn human beings.
Recently, you must have seen and heard of the efforts of those who wish to make abortions even more accessible that it already is in Canada. These fellow citizens of ours have so captured the public attention that many are led to believe that this crime of abortion is an inevitable fact of life and further that to oppose it, in this so called enlightened age, is an act of ignorance and social blindness. As a consequence, many are silent in their opposition, even though they know they should speak in defense of human life.
Compounding this, many people are confused by the reasons given for the promotion of abortion – that it can be considered an act of “compassion” or that it promotes “human rights”. When faced with such arguments, many Canadians have come to view abortion as absolutely essential to the “better life” we have committed ourselves to build.
As Catholic People, The Church in Hamilton Diocese must absolutely repudiate and totally reject this erroneous and dangerous reasoning. As believing Christians, we must support unequivocally the moral teaching of our Church.
Central to our faith is the fact that ALL life-our lives- are the free and undeserved gift of God our Father and Creator, who give life from the heart of his infinite love. Truly God’s hand is upon us from the very beginning of life.
From the very beginning of our lives, we are “written on the palms” of God’s hands (Isaiah 49:16).
We are unique and of great value in the sight of God because we are loved by Him who is our Creator. We are not valuable only because we have been “wanted” by our parents, or that some day we may become “useful” members of society.
The source and foundation of our worth is the love of the Father, who freely gives us life and raises us to His own love and life in the death and rising of His son, Jesus Christ.
Life is God’s to give and not ours to take. We are not the Creator. If God were to take back His gift of life, all would perish (Job 34:14-15).
We are firmly opposed to any action which even vaguely implies that we can do what we choose with human life. This is an affront and an insult to God our Creator and Father.
Abortion is exactly this kind of an insult. In the act of abortion adult human beings, who were allowed to develop in the womb, were brought to birth, educated and given precious skills as well as a good life, now attack directly a newly-conceived human being who is precisely what they themselves once were. This little one has no voice to cry out in pain or protest, no skills to fight back, no “equal time” to argue for its life.
It is of no consequence that this fetus does not “look” like most of the human beings we encounter each day of our lives. Human life is a process of constant growth and change. We cannot artificially break it into sections and decide that one part or stage of human life is more important than another. We cannot allow ourselves to determine that only certain age-groups deserve our acknowledgement and protection. But this is the way in which many justify their support of abortion claming that the “right to life” must somehow be “earned, achieved or bestowed” by the parents or by society.
We believe that the right to life is the foundation for all other rights. It is not given by any human authority.
Sometimes, life is willingly surrendered to achieve a good even more valuable bodily life itself. But in the case of the unborn, who have no voice how could they willingly sacrifice their lives?