October, the Respect Life Month
Oct 18, 2004
As we get deep into this month, I wanted to remind all of us that October has always been Respect Life Month in a very special way. There are three areas that I would like to bring to your attention: abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. By Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
(Catholic Standard, October 14, 2004 ) All we have learned about human life and its beginnings underlines the fact that there truly is life in the womb from the moment of conception. One of the most powerful photos I have ever seen is that of an incredibly small hand trying to hold on to a doctor's finger as he attempts a remedial surgical operation on a little fetus. The baby - for that indeed is what it is - naturally reached out to a protecting adult as if to say, "Hey, here I am, don't let them lose me!" How can anyone kill a baby like this - yet it's even done in the third trimester when a baby is half-born! It is not always easy to be pro-life in today's society, but we who believe have no choice.
Secondly, the question of assisted suicide is something we must think about. This was never an issue when I was a young man. We believed that God determined how long we were to live, and with our freedom of will we determined what kind of life we would live. Killing oneself is, I guess, the next step in a culture of death in which people too often take the lives of other people through violence or capital punishment. I know that pain is often so hard to bear, but as a priest who has sat at many sick beds, I know too that those who bear it for the sake of others can be filled with the deepest sense of satisfaction that enables them even to find joy in their suffering and release from their fears. Assisted suicide is always a slippery slope and the old, the poor, the handicapped and the disadvantaged are ready targets. What society must do is reach out to help those in need and in pain, not to develop ways to get rid of them.
Finally, I want to talk about stem cell research. I truly believe it is a phony issue. The Church is not opposed to adult stem cell research. As a matter of fact, that kind of research has already helped hundreds of thousands of people over many years. This research should be encouraged and supported by public and private funds alike because it has proven to be useful and beneficial to human beings and does not destroy the lives of anyone.
Embryonic stem cell research does not have that kind of track record. It really has no track record in human patients at all. It has become the darling of some research groups and the multi-billion-dollar biotechnology industry. Do not take their exaggerated claims for granted. Ask the right questions and learn the difference between fact and fiction.
Adult stem cell research is continuing its healing work. So far, it looks as if it can do the trick in so many ways of curing people's diseases. Let us not snuff out the lives of little humans through embryonic cell research in the desperate hope that there will be a miracle cure, especially since we already have started to find cures through adult stem cell research.
Respect Life Month reminds me to be thinking of you and to call your attention to all the things we need to see clearly.