This letter from Bishop Dennis Sullivan originally appeared in the Friday, May 16 edition of the Catholic Star Herald.
Last week, a deeply troubling Internet video of a woman filming her own abortion at a clinic in Cherry Hill spread quickly throughout the country. It has received wide publicity.
As the video originated here in the diocese, this is an especially important moment for us to reflect on our Catholic belief in the sanctity of every human life.
This belief has its roots in the very first chapter of Scripture, when we read in the Book of Genesis that God created man and woman in his own image and likeness. In other words, each and every human person bears the mark of God in a unique and beautiful way. Each and every person is a beloved creation of our Heavenly Father – from the initial moment of life onward.
Our Holy Father Pope Francis frequently talks about what he has called “the inestimable value of all human life.” Last summer, in a message to Catholics in Britain, he wrote: “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
Tragically, it is all too clear that we live in a world where reverence toward the most vulnerable is often absent. “Our faith stands in marked contrast” to this grim reality, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops proclaims in a document called Communities of Salt and Light. “At a time of rampant individualism, we stand for family and community. At a time of intense consumerism, we insist it is not what we have, but how we treat one another that counts. In an age that does not value permanence or hard work in relationships, we believe marriage is forever and children are a blessing, not a burden.”
As disciples, we imitate God’s love for each person when we put these values into action, building what Saint John Paul II called a “culture of life.” We build a culture of life when we support crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies. We build a culture of life when we welcome new life, no matter the circumstance. We build a culture of life when we advocate for public policies that lift up families struggling to make ends meet.
During this Easter season, our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection reminds us that we are a people of hope. Even in the midst of darkness and sin, the Light of Christ shines. May the power of God’s love over death inspire all people of good will to work toward a culture of life in our diocese and beyond.