"Vulnerable life indicates to us the way out, the way to save ourselves from an existence in which we are wrapped up in ourselves"
The 5th Commandment — do not kill — “rises up like a wall of defense” protecting the basic value in human relationships, the value of life. And a main breach of that Commandment is the taking of human life in the womb: abortion is like “hiring a hitman to solve a problem.”
This was Pope Francis’ observation today at the general audience, as he continued his catechesis series on the Ten Commandments.
“It could be said,” Francis observed, “that all the evil enacted in the world is summarized in this: disregard for life.”
He spoke of the “assaults” on life from war, exploitive organizations, from tinkering with creation, from what he often refers to as the “throwaway culture” — “while a scandalous number of people live in a state unworthy of man.”
“This is disregard for life,” he said, “which is in a sense to kill.”
Leaving his prepared text, he focused on the particular issue of abortion.
He noted how abortions are performed “in the name of safeguarding other rights.”
But how can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless budding human life be therapeutic, civil, or simply human? I ask you: Is it right to do away with a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? One cannot do this, it is not right to do away with a human being, albeit small, to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman to solve a problem.
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The Holy Father then spoke of the root of this disregard for life, which he classified as, simply, “fear.”
Indeed, the acceptance of the other is a challenge to individualism. Let us think, for example, of when we discover that a nascent life is the bearer of a disability, even a serious one. The parents, in these dramatic cases, need true closeness, true solidarity, to face reality, overcoming the understandable fears. Instead, they often receive hasty advice to interrupt the pregnancy, which is a figure of speech: ‘interrupt the pregnancy’ means to ‘do away with’ someone, directly.
He said that a sick child is like any needy person — “like an elderly person who is in need of assistance, like so many poor people who struggle to get by.”
And all of these people with needs are “in reality a gift from God,” because they can “draw us out of our selfishness and make us grow in love.”
Vulnerable life indicates to us the way out, the way to save ourselves from an existence in which we are wrapped up in ourselves, and to discover the joy of love.
The idols of the world lead us to refuse life, the pope lamented, idols such as money, power, and success, that lead to an attitude of “it is best to get rid of this, because it will cost us.”
On the contrary, he said, “the only authentic measure of life” is love. “The love with which God loves life: This is the measure. The love with which God loves every human life.”
The flip side of the 5th Commandment is, in fact, “That God is the ‘lover of life,'” the pope said.
In every sick child, in every weak elderly person, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life, Christ is looking for us. He is looking for our heart, to reveal to us the joy of love. It is worth welcoming every life, because every many is worth the blood of Christ Himself. One cannot disregard what God has loved so much!
Our own lives
The Holy Father drew from this Commandment another conclusion. We also must value our own lives, and “do not kill” also applies to ourselves.
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This “should be said to many young people: Do not disregard your existence!” he exclaimed. “Stop denying the work of God! You are a work of God! Do not underestimate yourself, do not disregard yourself with addictions that will ruin you and lead you to death!”
The pope appealed that no one use the “deceptions of this world” to measure life — his own or anyone’s. “Let each person accept himself and others in the name of the Father Who created us. He is the ‘lover of life’: This is beautiful, ‘God is the lover of life.’ And we are all so dear to Him, that He sent His Son for us.”
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See the Holy Father’s series on The Commandments here: