THE GOSPEL OF LIFE - CHURCH TEACHING
Kaname Shimamoto, Archbishop of Nagasaki
3 January, 1996
The Gospel message which God brought to the
world through Jesus Christ, is the Good News
about life. The God who admonished mankind
through Moses: " Therefore, choose life,
that you and your descendants may live"
(Dt 30: 19), sent His only Begotten Son into
the world as " The Word of Life."
" The Word of Life" , Jesus Christ
become man, announced that " I am the
life," and revealed that the reason
why He became man is this: " I came that
they may have life, and have it abundantly"
(Jn 10: 10). And while on earth, by bringing
the dead back to life, and by healing multitudes
of the sick and ailing, He showed that He
is indeed " The Word of Life" and
that the thoughts of God toward men are not
inclined toward death but toward life.
By no means can we say that the present day
viewpoint toward the " Gospel of Life"
is favorable. Quite to the contrary, an attitude
of " destruction of life" describes
the situation more accurately. For it is
a fact that a large a number of countries
have legalized abortion and euthanasia, and
have fashioned a cultural environment conducive
to these practices. To oppose this current
attitude of hostility toward life Pope John
Paul II published the Encyclical Letter " The
Gospel of Life" in order to restore
a recognition of the sacredness and inviolability
of human life, and to rescue human society
from the culture of death; relying upon God
he has invoked the power of papal infallibility.
In this Encyclical the Pope confronts directly those who rob the lives of the people who are most weak and defenseless, the unborn and the aged; he quotes and addresses to them the words which the Lord once spoke to Cain who killed Abel: " What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground" (Gen 4: 10). Cain had committed murder by killing his own brother. Abortion is an abominable sin by which a parent kills her own child.
No matter what kind of law one claims to
be following, abortion is the direct and
willful killing of what is a human being
in the beginning stages of life, that is,
from the moment of conception until the time
of birth. The unborn child's life is weak
and defenseless. Therefore God has chosen
the womb of its mother as the safest place
for it; has entrusted its life to this place
for its development. But now there are mothers
who disregard the life of the unborn child.
And therein lies the abominable nature of
the deed of abortion.
" The fetus isn't a human being yet"
some people claim in an attempt to justify
abortion. But it is a fact that a human life
has begun at the very moment of conception.
And that life is not the life of its mother
nor that of its father. The life is that
of the fetus itself. " Before I formed
you in the womb I knew you, and before you
were born I consecrated you; and I appointed
you a prophet to the nations" (Jer 1: 5).
This human being in the womb of the mother
is addressed as a " you," as a human
person. And it is a person who is segregated
from the mother, who is an independent personal
being. He is not a part of the mother's body.
Therefore the Pope proclaims this message,
basing himself upon such words of the Lord
and upon the tradition of the Church: " I
declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion
willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes
a grave moral disorder." That is because
abortion is the deliberate deed, performed
with aforethought, of killing a human being
who is innocent.
Today there are countries which have established
laws which approve abortion. That is an abuse
of legal powers, and has no validity binding
in conscience. The power of a government
to make laws must be employed to recognize
the various innate rights of individuals
and social groups, to foster them, and to
promote their development; at the very core
of various human rights is what is basic
to all of them, namely " the right to
live; " a law which attacks this right
is empty, is only an abuse. A legislated
law receives its potency to be legally binding
in the first place only if it is rooted in
the moral law.
We are Christians who believe in " The Gospel of Life." By this faith we have become " The People of Life." The Lord has sent us forth to be apostles of " The Gospel of Life." We are to be a people who proclaim and announce the sacredness of life, who communicate in life. Always and everywhere, let us choose life.