National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

The Gospel Of Life

BY Jim Cosgrove

November 01, 1998 Issue | Posted 11/1/98 at 1:00 PM


In his ad limina address earlier this year to the bishops of California, Nevada, and Hawaii, Pope John Paul II linked the principles of America's founding with today's battle over equal rights to life for all, including the elderly and terminally ill:

An essential feature of support for the inalienable right to life, from conception to natural death, is the effort to provide legal protection for the unborn, the handicapped, the elderly, and those suffering from terminal illness. As bishops, you must continue to draw attention to the relationship of the moral law to constitutional and positive law in your society: Laws which legitimize the direct killing of innocent human beings…are in complete opposition to the inviolable right to life proper to every individual; they thus deny the equality of everyone before the law (Evangelium Vitae, 72). What is at stake here is nothing less than the indivisible truth about the human person on which the Founding Fathers staked your nation's claim to independence. The life of a country is much more than its material development and its power in the world. A nation needs a soul. It needs the wisdom and courage to overcome the moral ills and spiritual temptations inherent in its march through history. In union with all those who favor a culture of life over a culture of death, Catholics, and especially Catholic legislators, must continue to make their voices heard in the formulation of cultural, economic, political, and legislative projects which, “with respect for all and in keeping with democratic principles, will contribute to the building of a society in which the dignity of each person is recognized and the lives of all are defended and enhanced” (Evangelium Vitae, 90). Democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes (cf. Evangelium Vitae, 70). In defending life you are defending an original and vital part of the vision on which your country was built. America must become, again, a hospitable society, in which every unborn child and every handicapped or terminally ill person is cherished and enjoys the protection of the law. [6]