Building a Culture of Life

01-23-2022Letter from the PastorFr. Don Kline, V.F.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Peace and Joy in Our Lord Jesus!

As more rounds of hateful political rhetoric are lobbed back and forth every day, I’m wondering if it all stems from the “culture of death.” Facebook posts, gotcha moments, tweets and sound-off sections on internet websites, some media pundits all seem to stir greater polarization in the human family, not to mention crafty politicians who are quick to demonize the opposing views. It seems a daily occurrence to witness the worst side of our humanity rejoicing over other’s failures and even their mistakes.

In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II described the “culture of death” as our acceptance of offenses like abortion, euthanasia, human cloning, capital punishment, poverty and more. All of these can be the consequences of our self-absorption and apathy which leads to the degradation and humiliation of human beings that are made in the image and likeness of God.

I admit to having a melancholic temperament at times. I can focus too often on what is broken in my life and in the lives of others. But the doom and gloom atmosphere that is prevalent in much of our culture is causing a great deal of unnecessary suffering, especially for our young people. This negative attitude is often seen in the way people are quick to criticize anyone who disagrees with their point of view. And when there is blood in the water, the darkness and pack mentality seems to kick in. Someone must pay. The anonymous world of the internet and social media rarely considers notions like the truth, human decency or love.

I ask myself if my Christian witness to human dignity in the current environment is different than others. Am I more measured and hopeful or am I like the rest? I found some refreshing guidance in the Church’s treatment of the 8th Commandment in the Catechism. Perhaps these short quotes can guide us to rethink our posts, conversations and judgments. (CCC 2464-2499)

All Christians by the example and witness of their word...have an obligation to manifest the new man which they have put on in Baptism and to reveal the power of the Holy Spirit… Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and words likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments…

To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way. Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

The right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional. Everyone must conform his life to the Gospel precept of fraternal love. This requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it. Though our intent may even be righteous, the public pursuit of our own viewpoint at any cost is often divisive. We need to think before posting or emailing or texting or calling someone with whom we disagree. I am not arguing that we cannot disagree or even call others out for being wrong. As disciples of Our Lord, it is how we express our displeasure with whom we disagree. Where is the charity? Is fraternal correction offered in love? Are we building up or tearing down? Is our sharing meant to bring human beings to the truth that God intends? Would I say the things I am typing in an email or text message to a person with whom I disagree if that person was sitting right in front of me face to face? Let us pray before we speak, asking Our Lord to give us the grace to be contributors to the culture of life.