by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
Last week, I promised to provide some concrete suggestions on how each of us can contribute to building a culture of life and a civilization of love.
At the heart of developing this culture of life is fostering a renewed respect for life of the unborn, the frail elderly and those with serious disabilities.
While these direct threats to innocent human life are of paramount importance, they are not our only areas of concern in our efforts to build a civilization of love. We need also to reform our culture wherever the dignity of the human person is diminished or disrespected.
As Catholics, we must oppose all forms and expressions of racism. In recent years, we have witnessed tragically a deepened racial polarization in our nation. Catholics are called not only to work for an end of racial bigotry, but also to labor at building bridges and promoting healing.
The Gospel challenges us also to have a special concern for the materially poor. We are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, and provide educational and employment opportunities.
Pope Francis recently launched the “Share the Journey” Campaign as an effort to raise world-wide consciousness for the plight of refugees and migrants, many of whom are fleeing religious persecution, civil strife in their homeland and/or dire poverty.
As we all know, immigration is a contentious issue in our nation. Illegal immigration and chaos on our borders is not good for our country, nor is it in the best interest of immigrants.
Catholics do not look at refugees or immigrants as legal or illegal, or documented or undocumented. We look at every person as one created in the divine image, as one so precious in God’s eyes that Jesus gave his life on Calvary. For those who share our Christian faith, we treasure them as brothers and sisters with whom we share life in Christ.
At this moment, there is a window of opportunity to begin to create a path for authentic immigration reform. Congress has five months to enact a secure legislative solution for those young adults who were brought to our nation as children.
I encourage you to communicate with the member of the House of Representatives for your congressional district, as well as our two U.S. senators (Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran), urging them to support legislation that grants legal status to these young adults who desire to use their gifts and talents to contribute to the welfare of our communities and nation.
It is not possible for any of us to be equally engaged in the broad constellation of issues and ministries that are not only relevant, but important, to the building up the civilization of love. However, we all can and must do something.
We need to discern prayerfully where our time, talent and treasure can best be used and have the greatest impact in defending life and promoting the dignity of the human person.
At the same time, we need to cultivate a sense of solidarity with those who are called to work in a different area of the respect life arena.
Some of the specific ways that we can personally become involved in fostering a culture of life and building a civilization of love are: 1) volunteer at a pregnancy resource center or with our postabortion healing ministry; 2) provide respite care for families with a profoundly disabled family member; 3) support the Sisters Servants of Mary in their incredible ministry of going into homes to care for the dying and to assist their families; or 4) visit elderly residents at Villa St. Francis or a skilled nursing facility in your community.
Catholic Charities offers a whole range of volunteer opportunities that include assisting at food pantries, helping at homeless shelters, assisting a recently arrived refugee family become familiar with a new culture, or working at TurnStyles — a thrift store that helps provide funding for so many other critical ministries.
We do not have to volunteer formally at a service agency to help with the building of a culture of life. The most important work often happens within families, neighborhoods and parishes.
If your family is raised, perhaps Our Lord is asking you to provide encouragement or even financial support to a couple in your parish who is in the midst of raising a large family.
You might also consider calling or visiting an elderly relative, neighbor or parishioner.
Perhaps, the Lord is calling you to provide help and support with a family caring for a disabled child or adult.
For advocacy opportunities regarding the life issues, I encourage you to Google “Human Life Action” (HLA). Working closely with the U.S. bishops conference, HLA can provide you with up-to-date pro-life public policy information.
HLA will assist you formulate messages to send to your representative or senators. The Kansas Catholic Conference can also supply you with a menu of opportunities to communicate with your state representative or senator regarding all the public policy issues that are important to Catholics.
There are limitless ways in which each of us can help build a civilization of love and a culture of life. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something.
Our seemingly small and insignificant individual acts of compassionate love, when united with millions of similar works of mercy by our fellow Catholics, can help transform the reigning culture of death into a society that welcomes, cherishes and celebrates human life.
Together, we can make a difference.