Thursday, 9 June 2011

The Theme of This Year’s Pilgrimage

The Gospel of Life under the patronage of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

The defence of life has been the mark of the resurgence of Catholicism among the young, and, of course, should be the mark of all Catholics. The defence of life, from conception to natural death is the basic right given to the human being by God. No other right has any real meaning if the right to life is ignored.

Of course the right to food and health care and education are good in themselves, but what do they mean if the person to which they refer does not have the ultimate right to exist?

This whole area is so murky that it has been explored and exposed by the right to life people to great effect. But it has also been used by those who deny the right to life to the child in the womb.

I remember when there was a move in Parliament to reduce the age at which the induced death of a child in the womb could be brought about. Had the change happened, when it became law it would have been illegal to bring a life to an end which the day before could quite legally have been terminated. What then is the right to life, if the whim of a few people in Parliament can decide the life and death of an innocent subject?

Or remembering when I lived in a L’Arche Community. Up to the moment of birth, half of the members of the community could have been done away with (the half who formed most of the core of the community). Why did they have fewer rights before they popped out of their mother’s wombs than me? My little life was at least protected after a while. Was I more important than them in the few days before my birth?

And I know that we are a Parliamentary democracy, but they can tell me all day long that black is white, but it still remains black – and they can tell me that this or that is now right and good, when it still is wrong and harmful. Just because Parliament decide a law, it does not mean that that law is good.

You see, what does it mean if yesterday I did not have rights and now I do? If yesterday I could have been killed, but now I’m safe? All these other rights, education, healthcare etc., are all well and good, but don’t tell me that they are fundamental if once I could have been killed, and there was nothing anyone could have done about it. What use is the right to education or healthcare if my soul never drew breath?

To see a soul is to see someone infinitely loved by God. Our souls exist from moment of conception until the end of all things. We love the soul and care for him and protect him. If that means we pick him up from the gutter and feed him like Blessed Theresa, then good. If it means that we cry out when he is exploited in the labour market, then so we should.

But if we say that for his most innocent and vulnerable moments we will allow that soul to be damaged and harmed and sent from this world before it has even had a chance to do something wonderful for God, then we have betrayed him.
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