The document that has just been published by the Church in Malta, entitled One Church. One Journey. A Process of Ecclesial Renewal 2020-2024, underlines a strong commitment to the promotion of human life and dignity: “Above all, we are called to place the safeguarding of human life and dignity at the centre of our proclamation and service.”
This fundamental option reminds us of the words of Jesus: “I came so that you may have life, and have it in abundance” (Jn 10:10). Jesus is telling us that, through him, our life here on earth can be a meaningful life, a life with a purpose. He is also showing us that life does not end with death. Beyond death, he guarantees eternal life, the fullness of life, to those of us who follow him, as his disciples.
We should respect the equal right to life of all people. If people are dying at sea, we cannot turn a blind eye and pretend that all is well. Nothing can justify our inaction.
Jesus also invites us to join him in celebrating life and in safeguarding life by adopting a consistent life ethic, where each and every human being is unique and important. The right to life is the most basic of all rights. No one should be defined by someone else’s choices. Respecting human life and dignity means that no one exists as a means to someone else’s satisfaction.
We are called to protect life at all stages from the first moment of conception when life is made up of just a few cells but is already human life. It is at its weakest and most vulnerable stage, totally dependent on others. The way society treats its most vulnerable members is always a measure of its humanity.
We should respect the equal right to life of all people. If people are dying at sea, we cannot turn a blind eye and pretend that all is well. Nothing can justify our inaction. No amount of hate speech will exonerate us from our responsibility; indeed, racism is an insult to God who created us all in his image.
A consistent life ethic in the present pandemic means that we should follow the various health measures that help us protect our life and that of others. We should never place our life, or that of others, at risk.
Safeguarding life means caring for the environment. We wonder at the beauty of creation, how it gives us life and healthy air to breathe. We can, however, argue – mistakenly – that instead of life in abundance, we should seek construction in abundance, and thus diminish life- sustaining air. We would be destroying our life, that of others and of future generations, if we do not respect creation.
A consistent life ethic will help us not to be deceived into thinking that drug abuse is a form of entertainment, and a means to have fun and enjoy life. Drug abuse creates victims and brings untold suffering to their families. Life experience has shown that drug abuse and the safeguarding of life cannot go together.
We are often tempted to adopt the arrogance of domination, possession, manipulation and exploitation. In so doing, we risk promoting a throwaway culture that discards humans as if they were trash. Let us all cherish “life in abundance” – a life that gives us blessings, peace and joy, and helps us share these gifts with others.
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi
This article was first published on the Sunday Times of Malta on 21 June 2020.