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Abbot Peter Novecosky, OSB


Abbot Peter NovecoskyThe pope’s pro-life vision

Pope Francis continues to challenge us into new ways of thinking about being pro-life.

He told the Italian Association of Catholic Teachers, at its recent national congress, that it’s not enough just to be concerned about the preservation of creation. A lifestyle that is environmentally ethical cannot be “schizophrenic,” which he described as showing more care for animals and forests than for people.

“Taking care of animals in extinction, but ignoring problems facing the elderly,” is “disconnected,” he said. Likewise, defending the Amazon rainforest but neglecting the rights of workers to a fair wage is “disconnected.”

Teach students the importance of personal responsibility, instead of bombarding them with slogans that someone else will have to carry out, he said. Teach children to have an enthusiastic appetite for “experiencing an environmental ethics that stem from the choices and behaviours in daily life.”

Later, in his Jan. 8 address to the diplomatic corps of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis addressed the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. He said the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family are “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

“It is painful to see how many fundamental rights continue to be violated today,” he said. “First among all of these is the right of every human person to life, liberty and personal security.”

War, violence and abortion all infringe on these rights, he said. However, there are “more subtle means” of infringing these rights.

“I think primarily of innocent children discarded even before they are born, unwanted at times simply because they are ill or malformed, or as a result of the selfishness of adults.

“I think of the elderly, who are often cast aside, especially when infirm and viewed as a burden.

“I think of women who repeatedly suffer from violence and oppression, even within their own families.

“I think too of the victims of human trafficking, which violates the prohibition of every form of slavery.”

Ultimately, the right to life entails working for peace, he said, because “without peace, integral human development becomes unattainable.”

How many are willing to accept his broad vision?