Fifty years ago, journalist Eileen Egan, borrowing from the biblical imagery of John 19:23, reportedly wrote: “the protection of life is a seamless garment. You can’t protect some life and not others.”
The seamless garment of life is a metaphor for the reality that all of us share one life. It is an understanding that all of life is sacred, from womb to tomb, in the unborn and the dying, in the migrant at the risk of drowning and in the person who is a victim of domestic abuse, in the prisoner on death row and the mother in a coma. When human life is considered easily expendable in one area, eventually nothing is held as sacred, and all lives are at risk.
In his apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis says: “Our defence of the unborn… needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those who are already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.”
The Pope urges us to be pro-life always and everywhere, not only in one moment, in one country or one aspect. We must rediscover the prophetic call to defend life in its concrete situations, not as an abstraction, but by defending human beings from the very beginning of life to its end, and in all stages. It is encouraging to see young people, such as the youth organisation ‘I See Life’, adopt this consistent life ethic and inspiring, supporting, educating and empowering young people to be advocates for life. They are a source of inspiration to us all.
In this context, what was proposed in the private member’s bill recently tabled in parliament is offensive. We are right to criminalise actions harmful on animals and the environment, so how are we being encouraged not to do so when defenceless human beings are concerned? We can never claim the right to choose to terminate the life of a human being. The dignity of every human being is equal and inviolable at every stage of life.
The weak and the vulnerable, those who have no voice, such as the life of the prenatal child, should be defended with great determination. At the same time, we should offer strong support and care to all those mothers who are facing difficulties in keeping their child and suffering emotionally and mentally. Defending the right to life of the weakest among us leads us also to support the quality of life of the powerless among us.
We should echo the Pope’s appeal of February 2, 2019: “Voluntarily extinguishing life in its blossoming is, in every case, a betrayal of our vocation, as well as of the pact that binds generations together, which allows us to look forward with hope… I take this opportunity to appeal to all politicians, regardless of their faith convictions, to treat the defence of the lives of those who are about to be born and enter into society as the cornerstone of the common good”.
Joseph Galea Curmi, Auxiliary bishop of the Malta archdiocese
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