The 'whole life' approach

Before this year's March for Life, seven major Catholic organizations sent a letter to the president and congressional leadership asking them "to prioritize human life and to promote policies that will enable life to flourish." 

This included the need to focus on issues such as the refugee crisis, global conflict and violence, immigration, health care, climate change, the need for a more just criminal justice system and an end to abortion.

This "whole life" approach was embraced by many marchers, who bore witness to the truth that every person is created with intrinsic dignity and value — that all human life comes from God and is sacred.

Several young marchers showed this through their signs and prayers, which called for an end to abortion but also focused on other pro-life issues (such as an end to the death penalty and assisted suicide, and calls to action to promote human rights and opportunities for people to thrive).

They showed that defending the right to life of the unborn opposes trying to qualify some lives as more valuable or more deserving of human rights than others. Respecting all life mirrors Jesus' teachings and inspires us to care for the most vulnerable, including the poor, the stranger, the elderly and the sick.

Here are some ways young pro-lifers can, and do, continue their commitment to the protection of human life and the promotion of human dignity.

— Pray. Offer a rosary for the lives of the most vulnerable. Pray to the Holy Spirit for courage before standing up for life in public.

Participate in activities such as 40 Days for Life, a campaign focused on ending abortion through prayer, fasting and peaceful vigils. (The next campaign starts March 1.)

— Support life in all of its stages. Give support to local, national and international organizations that care for those who are vulnerable in the community.

Catholic Charities helps hundreds of thousands of people in the United States to break the cycle of poverty, abuse and neglect, and empowers them to lead self-sufficient and dignified lives.

— Advocate. Support your diocese's pro-life efforts or start a pro-life group in your parish or your school. (Studentsforlife.org has suggestions and resources on how to do this.)

Ask your diocesan pro-life committee, or peace and justice office, about the issues of concern in your state. Then, contact your elected officials to discuss laws that reflect a "consistent ethic of life."

This "whole life" approach includes supporting legislation that provides alternatives to abortion, including funds to expand health care, nutrition and education and services for parents and children. It includes promoting palliative care for those who are dying, preventing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide and supporting efforts to end the death penalty.

— Volunteer and donate. Your time can save lives and help people to have the tools to have dignified lives. Contact a local pro-life agency, such as Gabriel Project, Project Rachel, crisis pregnancy centers or shelters for mothers and their babies to find out how you can help.

You can participate in 5Ks to raise funds, organize fundraising drives and donate items people may need. Your donations can make a big difference for organizations that run on shoestring budgets.

— Stay educated and educate others. Our actions to respect, protect, love and serve every human life can speak volumes. Learning how to answer questions about what being pro-life means is also important. Reading the Youcat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, is a good place to start.

Share this knowledge with your friends so they, too, can fully understand the value of all human life. And may your actions celebrate the gift of life every day.  

Maria-Pia Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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