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Playing Games with Life

By Judie Brown

Pope Francis recently said, “You don’t play with life, neither at the beginning nor at the end. It is not played with!” The pope has previously said that “we must accompany people towards death.”

His words ring true to faithful Christian people in more ways today than perhaps ever in human history. One need only reread the profound papal encyclical Humanae Vitae to understand what has happened to the culture, not to mention Catholic people, in the intervening 45 years. Disregard for human beings is undeniably prevalent everywhere. In the same way that cancer eats the body, the contraceptive mentality cripples the mind, distorting truth.

St. John Paul II made this perfectly clear, writing in Veritatis Splendor: “The relationship between faith and morality shines forth with all its brilliance in the unconditional respect due to the insistent demands of the personal dignity of every man, demands protected by those moral norms which prohibit without exception actions which are intrinsically evil. The universality and the immutability of the moral norm make manifest and at the same time serve to protect the personal dignity and inviolability of man, on whose face is reflected the splendour of God.”

This moral norm was recently discarded by Cole County, Missouri, judge Jon Beetem when he struck down legislative proposal language that he viewed as “problematic.” The exact language with which he disagreed included “from conception to live birth” and “the right to life.” The judge’s disdain for accurate language is a perfect example of the game to which Pope Francis was referring.

This agenda of death has been embraced not only by Judge Beetem but by many in positions of power in our nation today. But the question is, why aren’t we the people disgusted by these things and ready to stand up and defend truth?

The answer may reside in recent headlines such as “So-Called Pro-Life Laws Are Really about Shaming Women Who Seek Abortion” and “Poll: Montanans Overwhelmingly Approve of Physician-Assisted Aid in Dying.” While we find it appalling that language like this reflects the cultural crisis of today, the problem is that not enough of us are willing to expose, depose, and correct such blather.

As one young woman told me, “Words can kill.” And therein resides the crux of today’s apathy that is literally condemning people to death. Excuses like “I do not want to be involved” or “that’s her decision to make” psychologically excuse the speaker from reaching out or from using the moment to teach truth or to offer the support needed to avert the crisis that can result in the violent termination of another’s life.

But minding your own business is not always the best course of action because when an innocent person’s life is at stake, we have a moral duty to defend that person, even if it means stepping in and getting involved when it is uncomfortable to do so.

Such situations call to mind these words from St. John Paul II’s Gospel of Life:

What is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life: new, because it will be able to confront and solve today’s unprecedented problems affecting human life; new, because it will be adopted with deeper and more dynamic conviction by all Christians; new, because it will be capable of bringing about a serious and courageous cultural dialogue among all parties.

Rooting the conversation in the words of the gospel will require courage, but as the pope teaches, “The purpose of the Gospel, in fact, is ‘to transform humanity from within and to make it new.’”

You and I are devoted to teaching our fellow human beings by both our words and our deeds. We are striving to defend and protect life, particularly when we encounter those who do play games with life.