Deacon Geoff Bennett is Vice President of Parish and Community Relations at Catholic Charities.
The cultural conflicts over the past 50 years in American society have shattered the concept of unity and poisoned our political environment. We would be hard pressed to get agreement that the sky is blue. Driven by freedom without responsibilities, interest group activism and media amplification, we seemingly focus only on our differences, leading to division, intolerance and, in extreme cases, violence.
In pursuit of diversity and tolerance, we have accepted as “truth” that there are no truths that apply to everyone. Moral relativism dictates that each of us arrives at our own truth, and that truth can change depending on circumstances, context and feelings. We can’t even agree on the objective reality of male and female.
As Americans, we may know that we’re all in it together. But we act as if we’re all in it separately and let the chips fall where they may. Unity provides strength and stability. Division makes us weak and vulnerable.
There is a better way. And it needs to be led by people of faith who know that the basis of a truly just society respects the God-given dignity of each person. We need to come together as faith communities — and as a society — to protect the foundations of that belief.
That will be on joyful display at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13, at the state Capitol in Denver, when thousands of people will come to Celebrate Life, the name of the annual rally and march that honors life from conception to natural death. Everyone of goodwill is welcome to attend.
In a society that 45 years ago legalized destruction of innocent life in the womb through Roe v. Wade, and which seems increasingly open to physician-assisted euthanasia, there is a visible hostility to a faith-based assertion of the value of life. The womb of a mother should be the safest place for her unborn child. It has become the most dangerous. The elderly should be honored and cared for until a natural death. They should not be seen as burdens to be swept aside.
If the value of a person is based only on human measures of productivity or utility, then we’re all just inputs to a machine. And whether we live or die is based on moral relativism.
There is a better way. The moral teachings of the Catholic Church on sexuality, marriage and family life are maps to discover human flourishing. The moral teachings cannot be separated from the social teachings, which address the protection of human life, the dignity of every person and how we should live together in society.
We can’t pick and choose which teachings we believe, just as we can’t choose who to care for and who to ignore. The unborn, the immigrant, the elderly, the disabled and the destitute have a special claim on our attention because we are called to care for the most vulnerable.
How those social teachings are pursued, through public means, private charity or individual initiative, is not predetermined. It is only through good will, shared struggle and humility that we can proceed. That is a better way.