By Kaelanne Jordan Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The sanctity of life and the dignity of each human being, made in the image and likeness of God, is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our Church’s social teaching.
In Genesis 1: 26 we read: “God created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Because of God’s love for us, He sent His son, Jesus, who became incarnate—fully God and fully man, to redeem us from original sin.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God” (CCC, 2319).
The challenge is to conform to the image of Christ. To do so, Catholics must “put on Christ”.
“If we imitate Christ, we can be agents of change. There is no better way to evangelise than by example; by becoming living witnesses of the Gospel; by demonstrating that Christ lives in us.”
So said Leela Ramdeen, Chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ) and the Archdiocese’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees (AMMR) as she delivered a presentation for the Know Your Faith series, October 25. Ramdeen’s presentation was titled ‘The Sanctity of Life and the Dignity of the Human Person’.
“The dignity that I have comes from God. Nobody can take that away from me. It doesn’t matter whether I’m rich or poor, whether I live in Beetham or Westmoorings. It’s a permanent part of my being,” Ramdeen asserted.
Dignity means also thinking about duties to God, neighbour and yourself. Although human dignity is a permanent part of our
character, given by God, it is also a goal, an achievement. “This means that we must constantly be seeking to realise our human dignity by how we live our lives,” Ramdeen said.
Our dignity is connected
The permanent character of dignity is essentially linked to the dignity of others. As Pope Francis says in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, everyone and everything is connected.
“If my neighbour’s dignity is trampled upon, mine becomes tarnished,” Ramdeen said. She referenced the analogy of the body in 1 Corinthians 12-30, which reads: “If one part is hurt, all parts are hurt with it.”
“We are all part of the body of Christ, therefore, we cannot be indifferent to the many social ills that confront us and our brothers and sisters. Each day the media brings to our homes news of more and more murders, incidence of domestic violence, sexual abuse and other crimes, as well as a plethora of social ills – each of which is an affront to the sanctity of life and the dignity of the human person,” Ramdeen said.
According to Ramdeen, Christians have a duty to speak up when human rights violations become known or when certain rights —access to food, water, shelter, education, health care, a sound environment, access to justice etc—are not recognised.
Respect and protect all life
Catholics are called to respect and protect all life.
Ramdeen underscored that many have sought to affix political labels to Catholic social teaching, but Catholic doctrine is just that: Catholic. As members of Christ’s Church, Catholics are called to be promoters of social justice by living out our faith in the public square—and this involves working to change unjust structures.
“If we are pro ALL life, then we need to reflect on how we treat migrants and refugees,” Ramdeen said.
“The pandemic has adversely impacted not only T&T’s citizens, but also migrants and refugees. And let’s not forget that one of the social ills that some of them face is xenophobia,” she said.
Human beings are not only sacred, but also social. It’s important to note that Catholics cannot “cherry pick” which life issues they will promote. To be pro-life is to be pro-ALL life, Ramdeen underscored.