Understanding Our Church

A Treasury of Arkansas Writers Discussing the Catholic Faith

Being pro-life means standing up for rights of every person

Published: June 27, 2020

By Lou Ann Gieringer
Campus Minister, Mount St. Mary Academy

“Every individual, precisely by reason of the mystery of the Word of God who was made flesh (cf. John 1:14), is entrusted to the maternal care of the Church. Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church’s very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the redemptive incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature (cf. Mark 16:15).” — St. John Paul II, The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae, no. 3)

What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? What does it mean to be pro-life? Our Catholic Church teaches that all humans are made in the image and likeness of God. Because of this teaching, we believe that all life is sacred and precious. We believe that all people are born with universal rights, rights that come from God. Rights that are inherent. They are part of being human.

It is not enough to help someone to be alive if their life is without the rights God created them to have.

It is so easy to see this principle when we look at an innocent baby or someone that we have determined is doing God’s will. But our Church teaches that all people are made in the image of God, and all are sacred and should be treated with dignity. Pro-life means working for the wellbeing and rights of all humans from conception until death. Even our honoring of the dead is a tribute to life.

We believe that as Christians we have a responsibility to stand up for those that need our help in order to receive the rights, respect and dignity that they deserve. Of course for every right there is a responsibility for each individual not to abuse their rights and to honor the rights of others.  

Recently we may have felt that our rights and dignity were being abused and ignored. We seemed to be living in a sci-fi movie version of the lives we were living before COVID-19. Some of us might have felt that our personal rights were taken away when we were asked to shelter-in or when we were asked to follow certain health protocols or wear a mask. Some may have wanted stricter rules and regulations to be enforced. We have to wonder if our rights are more important than someone else’s or if our rights are helping or endangering others.

And then, when we thought things could not get worse, we were confronted with the total disregard for life by the killing of George Floyd. In disbelief we asked ourselves, “How could this be happening?” We were horrified, and so was the world. People reacted in many ways. As Catholic Christians we are people of all races and beautiful colors. We are called to step up and live as pro-life people. This means acknowledging racism and supporting and joining our black sisters and brothers as they work to be seen as equally created in the image of God.

How hard is it to stand for the rights of others? I believe it is very hard indeed. We may believe that someone or a group of people are not receiving the same rights as we are. But is believing it enough? No, it is not enough to help someone to be alive if their life is without the rights God created them to have.

Pope Francis said June 3, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.” We are called to be a people of light. We are called to reflect the love of God for each human. We must be the children God created all of us to be and work together for change.