L-omelija tal-Isqof Joseph Galea-Curmi
The Malta Unborn Child Platform was founded twenty-five years ago. Year after year, this movement has worked persistently to promote respect towards the dignity and the rights of the unborn child, and the child’s protection and development. Today, I would like to thank all those who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of life at its most vulnerable and dependent, when it needs the greatest support and care.
Life has changed considerably in these twenty-five years, even in our country, but today we desperately need to continue working so that human life will be respected at every stage. Today, St Mark’s Gospel shows us unremitting work in favour of the life and health of so many people, by the One who came precisely to give us life to the full. The message I wish to emphasise today is that we should all make a commitment to cherish human life, protect it, and work against all that can harm it. And we should do this from the moment of conception to its natural end.
It is vital for us to have a consistent ethic in favour of human life. I would like to start from the very beginning which, as science shows, is the moment of conception. We know that there are still people who refer to this life as a few cells, like an object that can be discarded. Sometimes, there is the mistaken notion that, if we accept the new human life, we can call it a baby, which we are expecting; on the other hand, if we reject it, we then call it a few insignificant cells.
However, the value of human life does not depend on whether we accept it or not, but on its intrinsic dignity. This is why we should protect it! And for believers, human life is always the image of God, even at the very beginning, when it can only be seen through ultrasound.
When we cherish human life from the very beginning, we can genuinely work so that this will become a decisive factor in our choices, both in our personal life and in society. Today, our country faces numerous challenges and, if we do not maintain this criterion, we risk making choices that are harmful to ourselves and others.
I will start with the challenge of drugs. Up to some time ago, as a society, we spoke against drugs, because of their harmful effect on the victims and on society. Nowadays, some people categorise drugs according to whether they are harmful or acceptable, even endorsing their use for recreational purposes. Many professionals from different areas, and many associations that work with victims, have asserted that the so-called ‘recreational’ drugs are still harmful, even mentally, and detrimental to many people and to society. The advice of these professionals was ignored, and now some individuals boast that many people use these drugs in their leisure time, as if this were an advancement in society. Now drugs can also be delivered at home on a motorbike, in colourful and attractive packages.
This is a clear example of a situation where cherishing human life is not a decisive factor in the choices made by many people. Who is suffering because of this? Not only those people who eventually become victims, but also the victims of those victims. We are already paying the price. And future generations, who will grow up in an environment where they can harm themselves in their leisure time, will also suffer.
I would also like to mention the challenge of the environment. If we do not protect creation, we will poison the very air that we breathe. We will gradually harm our lives and the lives of others. You do not need to be highly intelligent to realise that Malta is a small island – it should not be transformed into a panorama, or rather a mess of concrete, cement, and high-rise buildings. This gradual destruction is a threat to our lives and those of future generations.
I would like to mention the challenge of domestic violence. It is heart-breaking when you hear about people who are prisoners in their own homes, victims of violence in the very place where they should live in peace and love. This causes tremendous suffering. It is important for the victims to find the necessary support, so that they can be freed from this abusive situation, which is threatening their lives.
I would like to mention the challenge of conflicts and wars. If we cherish life, we cannot remain silent when confronted with what is taking place in Ukraine, what has taken place in Israel and is taking place in Gaza and in other places. These are terrible situations. Nothing can justify the destruction of so many innocent lives, so many victims of violence, hatred, and contempt towards human life. It is precisely because the protection of human life is not a decisive factor that all this is taking place.
I would like to mention the challenge of people seeking shelter elsewhere, victims of a culture of rejection, very often because of racism or racialism – another word that has the same meaning. When we respect human life, all people are dear to us, whatever the race, skin colour, gender, or religion.
I would like to mention the challenge of the elderly or sick people who are vulnerable and dependent on others. They need support and help so that they can come to believe that their lives are still filled with dignity, and no one should suggest that it would be better if they were not there. The strength of a society is measured according to the progress of its weakest members.
I would like to mention the challenge of those who are thinking of ending their own life because of the difficult circumstances they are facing. They can only see darkness, and they can identify with Job in the first reading: “When I lie down, I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.” (Job 7:4) They need a hand to hold onto and a voice to tell them: you are precious, you are valuable, you are loved!
These are specific situations. There are many other examples, but the message should always be the same: life must be protected and cherished from the first moment of conception, at every instance, until its natural end. When we start making exceptions, we introduce a threat, not only to one person’s life, but to all of us.
Today, I pray that we will always have a consistent ethic in favour of life, and that we will always cherish life with love.
✠ Joseph Galea-Curmi
Auxiliary Bishop of Malta