By Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel
Special to The Texas Catholic
All of us are shocked and dismayed by recent reports of seemingly senseless killings. Day after day, television, radio and newspapers report seemingly random acts of violence against innocent men, women and children. Shootings at elementary, high school, and college campuses as well as drive-by attacks on people unknown to their assailant leave us puzzled and asking the question, “What’s happening to our society?”
Analysts scratch their heads trying to come up with a rational answer to irrational acts. Some say there are too many guns; some say there are not enough guns. The perpetrator must be mentally deranged or was bullied as a child or came from a broken or dysfunctional home. We search everywhere for explanations to these aberrant acts against our nature.
Several years ago St. John Paul II labeled this disregard for the sanctity of human life, “a culture of death.” This culture disregards the value and sanctity of each and every human person. Pope Francis recently decried the treatment of human beings as disposable objects, to be done away with when no longer suiting our purpose. Where does this “culture of death” come from? How did it enter our human experience?
St. John Paul II instructed us in his letter, “The Gospel of Life,” that human life is sacred because each and every human person is created in the image and likeness of God. For this reason, the life of every human person is deserving of respect from the moment of conception in the womb until natural death. The human person has value and worth precisely because he or she is a creature of God, given the gift of free will and reason and call to everlasting life.
St. John Paul II warned that as soon as we begin to remove God from public discourse or the public sphere, there is corresponding diminution of the value of the human person. God is in a way the guarantor of the worth and value of the human person. We have seen such a diminution of God in the public arena and the resulting diminishing of the value of the human person.
We are called to build a culture of life in our world. We do this by trying to make God known in our world by the lives of goodness and charity that we live. We can look for opportunities to speak about the value and beauty of human life created in the image and likeness of God. Parents should look for opportunities to point out to their children what a precious gift of life their younger brother or sister is and that we never use demeaning and hateful speech against any person because they are created in God’s image and likeness. As citizens in our community we can vote for good laws and good lawmakers who are dedicated to protecting and enhancing human life from conception to natural death.
How wonderful our society would be if we were known as a society that welcomes and loves life. Jesus our savior told us that he came into the world that we might have life and have it to the full. Let us work to build a culture of life.
The Most Rev. J. Douglas Deshotel is an auxiliary bishop, vicar general and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Dallas.