Our Catholic faith
teaches that every human life is sacred from conception to natural death. It
begs the question: How do we treat sacred things? What happens to our demeanor,
for example, when we approach the sacred space of a church, or a cathedral?
We lower our
voices. Men remove their hats. We become reverent. As Moses was told to remove
his shoes because he was standing on holy ground, in a similar way, when we
approach the sacred, we are called to quiet our hearts and tread lightly. We
are called to listen.
If people from
within or without the Church claimed that individuals or the state had a right
to destroy certain churches, we would rightly protest.
If this is how we
protect divinely inspired, yet man-made worship spaces that decay over time, or
are destroyed by fire, how committed should we be to protecting human persons?
Think of the reaction the world had to the Notre Dame Cathedral fire. Donations
poured out all over the world to restore it, which was a beautiful response.
How should we respond, then, to the intentional destruction of the “Temples of
the Holy Spirit” happening from conception to natural death?
Even those who
have committed heinous crimes have an eternal soul. Like us, they were made in the
image and likeness of God and were redeemed by the blood of our Lord, Jesus
Christ. Governments have an obligation to protect their citizens from those who
would do them harm. But even those who are incarcerated are invited to turn
away from sin and accept what Christ has won for them. St. Dismas showed us
that salvation is possible even in our last moments.
is not a “natural death.” Vengeance does not restore what was taken from
us. It cuts short opportunities for
repentance, time to be transformed by grace, and the possibility of asking for
pardon. This should be a serious consideration for those Catholics who support
the use of the death penalty.
While the great
founders of our country did not always adhere to the idea that every life is
sacred, they intuited it when they declared that life is an inalienable right.
A just government does not grant this right. It merely recognizes what is
already there. This is true from the moment of conception until the moment of
natural death. St. Dismas, pray for us.