Editorial | Life issues intertwined

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Human life is sacred. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.

But at times, society operates contrary to that foundation.

We continue to see human life under attack through abortion and euthanasia. The value of human life is threatened by embryonic stem-cell research, the death penalty and hybridization — last month scientists announced a successful human/pig chimera: an organism containing cells of two species.

The Church upholds the value of respecting life, from conception to natural death.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminds us that "Nations must protect the right to life by finding increasingly effective ways to prevent conflicts and resolve them by peaceful means," as they write in a teaching about human dignity. "We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person."

Now, our nation faces additional challenges for respecting the human person. President Donald Trump's executive order suspending entry visas to nationals from seven nations has received raw, harsh criticism as anti-Muslim, anti-refugee and anti-human.

In response to the order, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson cited the Gospel mandate to welcome the stranger — mindful of the inherent dignity found in them. "We believe that each person, regardless of their official status, is made in the image and likeness of God, and as such deserves to be treated with respect, justice and love," he wrote.

We're made in the image and likeness of God, which is our universal call to uphold the dignity of human life at all stages. In defense of life, we must defend the lives of the unborn and the lives refugees who, by definition, face death or grave harm in their own nation. We must defend against unjust killing in our streets and against unjust war. We must lobby against the destruction of life in the laboratory and in the justice system.

Individually, we all feel called to a specific cause. Those individual calls are the seeds to mass movements, as we've seen in our nation in recent weeks. Mass movements affect change.

In the first month of this year, Catholics have mobilized to defend life and liberty. In St. Louis, a prayer vigil marked the Jan. 22 anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions legalizing abortion. Some added a pro-life message to the Women's March in an effort to defend women at all stages of life. Catholics and others have spoken out against a bill in St. Louis that threatens our religious liberty by adding pregnancy and reproductive health decisions, including abortion, as protected classes. And President Trump's recent nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court has received ample praise from pro-life organizations.

If we learn anything from this era — which feels increasingly intense — it's that we can't be silent. We're called to live our faith in the public arena, to exercise faithful citizenship in defense of human life and religious liberty. On those matters, we must #RESIST. 

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