“Openness to life is at the center of true development. When a society moves toward the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards to acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help.
By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and individual.”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate
Respect for life is at the center of our faith. Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that we are called to protect the life and dignity of each and every human being, from conception until natural death. We recognize the sensitivity around these issues and encourage you to ask questions and seek out resources. We hope to continue to expand our Respect Life Ministries to include events and educational opportunities so that we can all learn from one another about the Church’s moral teachings.
Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is an excellent resource on the Catholic Church’s pro-life teachings. You may also see the resources below to learn about important topics related to the Catholic teachings on life and dignity.
The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a moral evil. The Church also maintains consistent teachings about mercy and compassion for all. We do not condone abortion, but we do teach that all people are worthy of God’s grace and forgiveness.
Resources on the Church’s teachings about abortion can be found here:
Women who have made the decision to have an abortion in the past and are seeking healing may be interested in Project Rachel Ministries. The support program, Project Rachel, is active within the diocese. Contact Jen Housel, Diocesan Director for Family and Community Life, 570-207-2213.
Rachel’s Vineyard weekends for healing after abortion are offered throughout the year in locations across the United States and Canada, with additional sites around the world. Our Diocese sponsors one retreat weekend each year, usually in November.
National organization: Rachel’s Vineyard — 800-HOPE4ME (800-467-3463)
National Hotline for Abortion Recovery –1-866-482-LIFE (866-482-5433)
Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide are both serious issues in the world today, which the Church considers to be a threat to the inherent dignity of human life and death. Our Catholic teachings remind us that we are called to value human life in a way that accepts suffering and encourages care for our neighbor.
Catholic teachings on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide can be found here.
The Catholic Church teaches that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” (Francis, Discourse, Oct. 11, 2017). This teaching is not a new one; the Church has long opposed the use of the death penalty, which is no longer necessary in a world where most criminal justice systems are sufficient for protecting the lives of the innocent.
The death penalty is not a permissible form of punishment. As Catholics, we uphold values of mercy and compassion, even for those who have committed heinous crimes. Like many of the controversial issues listed here, this teaching is a difficult and emotionally-charged one. Once again, we encourage you to continue to ask questions and join in conversations with others. More information from the USCCB can be found here.
Dignity of Families
The Catechism teaches, “Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living-conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: food and clothing, housing, health care, basic education, employment, and social assistance” (CCC, 2288).
As a Church, we are called to support the dignity of each and every human person and their family. We believe that we have a responsibility as citizens to support laws and social movements that promote concern for the poor and vulnerable.
For more information on Catholic issues of human dignity, please see the USCCB’s statement, Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. Here, you can find information on a variety of social and political issues, as well as various calls to action in political life.