VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Raymond Burke has rallied all people of goodwill to take a firm stance in protecting and promoting human dignity, warning that it is under “constant attack in an ever more secularized world.”
In a forceful keynote address to members of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican Gardens June 28, the Roman Curia’s most senior U.S. cardinal said belief in the dignity of all people is the most fundamental means of the New Evangelization.
He singled out for criticism U.S. politicians who are constantly pushing to liberalize restrictions upon abortion, observing they are backed by “powerful lobby groups with vested interests, such as Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.”
He also criticized other countries such as the United Kingdom for forcing through same- sex “marriage” legislation without any regard for its consequences and the United Nations for linking aid to poor countries with provisions for contraception and abortion.
“A thinly disguised population-control agenda is steadfastly at work in the sheep’s clothing called ‘maternal health,’” he said. But the agenda, he noted, “actually has nothing to do with maternity and nothing to do with health.”
Cardinal Burke, who is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura — the Church’s closest equivalent to a Supreme Court — also drew attention to the persecution of Christians, which he said is “at a high point throughout the world.”
Observing that the world is facing “virulent strains of secularism,” he noted: “One only has to read the daily newspaper or turn on the television for the evening news to know that Christians holding to the truth of the moral law is no longer tolerated by many and that the secularist agenda never ceases in its efforts to overshadow, drown out and intimidate the witness of faithful Christians.”
“The goal is to silence the Christian witness, but we cannot succumb to such tactics,” he continued. “I urge all who are here this evening to stand firm in your witness, knowing that it is indeed the Lord’s work and that he will never fail to accompany you,” he said.
Cardinal Burke went on to explain how legislation is being used to further the secularist agenda, but with “little reflection upon the sort of ‘brave new world’ which is thereby developed.”
“Without a careful articulation of the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, society’s only measure of the good of an individual human life is what the person possesses or produces,” he explained, adding that it is the way of moral relativism and a tyranny that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said was “based on the supremacy of the strong and the neglect of the weak and vulnerable.”
“We cannot be deceived,” Cardinal Burke said. “There is no greater issue facing human dignity today than the relentless attack on human life, the integrity of the human body.”
He also warned that it is “all too easy” to be too concerned with one’s own life and overlook this “pervasive and negative” trend in society. “We cannot allow this culture of death to increase and to snuff out our Christian way of life,” he said.
Supporting Human Dignity
To resist these efforts, he advocated supporting political leaders who back just laws that respect the inviolable dignity of human life and that citizens must become aware of those laws that are attacking human dignity.
“If people do not acknowledge the dignity of all human beings without exception, the common good, authentically understood, can never thrive,” he said.
Furthermore, he called for “strong, supportive and traditional families, with a mother and father who love their children unconditionally,” as well as women and mothers who uphold the virtues of “purity, chastity and modesty and respect for the integrity of marriage and the family.”
The cardinal called for a movement “toward a New Evangelization regarding human life,” and said the “Magna Carta” for such a New Evangelization is Blessed John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).
“The transformation of hearts by which one truly believes in the dignity of all men, without boundary, is the most fundamental means of a New Evangelization,” he said.
Despite the increasing threats on human dignity, Cardinal Burke ended on a hopeful note: He drew attention to the millions who protested in France against the redefinition of marriage, other significant marches in Ireland and Brazil, and the “Stop the Gosnells” campaign in the U.S. that aims to prevent future crimes like those committed by Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia abortionist who was convicted in May of murdering three babies who survived late-term abortions.
Such manifestations and initiatives, he said, “truly give me hope and inspiration.” Seeing hundreds of thousands unified in witnessing to the gospel of life, he added, “gives hope that a New Evangelization regarding human life and the dignity of human life will continue and develop, leading our culture along the right path, the path that leads to true freedom and, therefore, lasting peace.”
He also praised the work of the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, describing the nonprofit organization, headed by Cardinal Renato Martino, as “the most important organization promoting human dignity in the world today.”
Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.