Building a culture of life in America must begin in our own homes and families, said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
Cardinal DiNardo told CNA on Nov. 14 that the most fundamental threat to human life in America is a profound disrespect “for the inestimable worth of the human person.”
At the U.S. bishops' conference's fall assembly in Baltimore, Md., the cardinal said he believes the most significant threats in modern society are aimed at “preborn human life and life at its final stages.”
However, he added, these two “pillars” of disrespect for human life set the stage for many different kinds of offenses in between.
Although issues such as abortion, euthanasia and embryonic stem cell research are primary attacks on human life in America today, others include “the way we treat our immigrants” and the “the disrespect we show to one another in our culture,” he said.
Cardinal DiNardo maintained that reversing these disturbing societal trends begin at a very basic level.
“First of all, you respect the members of your household,” he said. “You respect the life of your fellow parishioners. You treat people with dignity. You treat people with respect.”
When people are firmly rooted in a deep respect for the lives around them, they can then build on that foundation to promote a greater respect for life in the public square, he said.
The cardinal also emphasized the importance of religious freedom in order to express the Church’s teachings on life in the public square. He said that Catholics should politely but clearly speak up for their beliefs in a culture that is seeing a rapid erosion of religious liberty.
He warned of “an aggressive secularizing tendency” in American society that seeks to limit freedom of religion to private individual worship, while ignoring the rights of faith communities, churches and religious institutions.
This view of religious freedom is not the one outlined in the U.S. Constitution, he explained, noting that the Establishment Clause was intended to protect freedom of religion, both privately and in public.
Catholics must work to fight this attack on religion by showing the importance of religious liberty in a healthy society, Cardinal DiNardo said. They must defend their freedom to stand up for their values, including the dignity of every human life.
The cardinal urged Catholics not to become disheartened in the fight for both life and liberty. “It’s going to be a battle on a series of levels, he said. “And it’s a long journey.”