The devil is in the details. The devil resides in each of these camps inciting, tempting, plotting, and relishing with great enthusiasm the ineptitude of mankind to confront the consequences of life and death decisions. Mankind has both the science and the legal authority to end life. Abortion, death penalty, and end of life care decisions tear families and communities apart as the life of one hangs in the balance.
The common lay person has had only brief casual conversations about these issues, mostly focused on current events and politics and supported by a superficial understanding of their religious affiliation and the dynamic forces and history forging the most current controversy. At best, perhaps they have been exposed to completing an advanced directive, researched at least one of these areas, delved into their religious orientation in depth, and possess a degree of cross cultural competencies.
The truth of the issue is most of us are simply incompetent to adequately make the case for a universally acceptable norm in a manner that is intellectually honest, compelling, and comprehends in scope when it comes to defining and defending basic human dignity.
This does not stop us from voting on single ticket issues, writing op ed opinions, counseling friends or even strangers, performing jury activities, or being confronted with making the decision for the life of one person. How woefully unprepared most of us are to handle this moral, social, legal, and spiritual responsibility.
In my incompetence, I am politically speaking somewhere between Pro Life and Choose Life. Catholic theology, Ethics, and Social Justice issues formulate my beliefs and positions. The reality of our human state of affairs is we are at times faced with decisions that have been created by a history of events beyond our purview leaving us with options that are poor, bad, or terrible.
This Jesuit article lays out the Catholic position on abortion: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2020/01/10/we-need-protect-least-among-us-unborn. The article and other articles in that edition speak to the dignity of life as our spiritual ideal and mandate from God. The article also speaks to winning peoples hearts and discusses social policies that are advantageous to supporting families and human dignity. Changing Roe versus Wade, if that were to happen, is a woefully insufficient answer to abortion. There is much work to be done in areas of human dignity pre-pregnancy, during, and post delivery.
We now have a conservative court. Appointing Supreme Court justices is no longer a single ticket item vote. Issues of human dignity across the life spectrum before facing life and death decisions are culturally and spiritually paramount.
I am confident that in a majority of situations regarding life and death decisions public sentiment is woefully misinformed or ignorant of the details. The devil will makes this his playground and pits brother against sister, Democrat against Republican, and religious institutions against nations and many faithful believers. My calling this morning is to fight the culture of hate and division driven by passionate mostly sincere and well meaning people. Take a step back and recognize that when it comes to life and death issues we are dealing with suffering and tragedy regardless of your position. There is a history, a now, and a future – our discussion and even decisions is not the end.
I have a strong nuanced opinion on how we collectively should face human suffering and life and death decisions across the spectrum. It is somewhat spiritually informed and connected to current social realities. It is not at all practical as there is a lack of political will to dedicate resources to the dignity of life throughout life, not just at its inception or termination. Not being able to deliver a whole package, I recognize it is hard for me to mandate by law specific demands.
Yes, certain spiritual laws are absolute. As we learn in the literature classic “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo, what we do with absolutes is another question. Despair and dreams, commonalities we all share: