In one of my blogs last week I referred to the document issued by the Irish Bishops on 21 February. From Crisis to Hope: Working to achieve the Common Good was issued by the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Episcopal Conference, and I recommend that it be read and studied deeply.
The text of the document can be seen on this link
As well as the actual text itself, the statements that accompanied the launch of the document are provided, and these should be included in the overall approach to the occasion. The reason why I say this is that, although the Bishops cover a very wide area in relation to the various crises in Ireland today – economic, social, etc. – at the same time they give us much food for thought in relation to the family, and the protection of human life from conception to natural death, and these are referred to in the various statements.
In the audio item included with the texts, Bishop Field states that a copy of From Crisis to Hope will be distributed to legislators both north and south of the Border after the General Election. So, TDs and MPs cannot claim to be unaware of the content of the document! We should remember this fact when dealing with, or talking to, any of our newly elected legislators. Remind them – particularly those who made positive statements in relation to the right to life of the unborn child, and in relation to the family – of their pre-election promises and commitments.
Here is a sample of what the Bishops say in From Crisis to Hope –
‘At a time of considerable financial and political turmoil throughout the island of Ireland, which has brought suffering and despair for many people, the Council for Justice and Peace of the Irish Episcopal Conference offers a vision for the future, based on Gospel values and Catholic Social Teaching.
‘This vision is inspired by a belief in the inalienable worth of every individual as created in the image and likeness of God, and offers a response to the current situation in Ireland that is founded on hope and a commitment to the common good. This understanding of the common good should not be confused with the greatest good for the greatest number, but is a reminder of the duty of every one of us to respect the human dignity of all persons.
‘In Ireland today, we once again emphasise the importance of supporting, protecting and strengthening the family based on marriage between a man and a woman as well as promoting human life at all its stages.’
‘For Catholics, the protection of the inalienable right to life of the unborn constitutes a non-negotiable element of fostering the common good. Abortion is the denial of that inalienable right.’
‘Bishop Field outlined some of the implications of our Christian obligation to defend human dignity in Ireland today. He said “Defence of human dignity means:
“Protecting human life, from the moment of conception to its natural end;“Protecting our children from poverty and ensuring that they have access to all the services they require for health and education, as well as the opportunity to develop their talents through those cultural and sporting activities that are so important for personal growth; …“Strengthening and protecting family life. Families are the cornerstone of strong communities, and, ultimately a strong society; …“Enabling older people to live dignified and independent lives.”’
From Crisis to Hope quotes extensively from Caritas in Veritate (Pope Benedict XVI) and from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.
It is to be hoped that this intervention on the part of the Bishops – for which they deserve our heartfelt thanks – is just the beginning of a new and vibrant guidance from them to their flock.
We should bear in mind too, of course, that it is not only Catholics who defend unborn human life. People of other religious views, and of none, all unite in the recognition of the inherent worth and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death, and the need and requirement to protect life at all its stages