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Senseless acts of violence have simply become all too common in our day. From mass shootings at concerts, to stabbings in department stores, to families being gunned down in churches, we are tragically immersed in a culture of violence. Brutality is experienced on the street, in the home, between family members—and even in the womb.
Reasonable people should be horrified by this vicious epidemic. Yet are we? How many popular movies don't have a high amount of violence? How many video games don't involve blowing up or shooting down an opponent? How fascinated are we by the daily reports of violence in the news?
Bloodshed began with the very children of Adam and Eve, and violence has been with us ever since. But haven't we become too desensitized to this culture of violence? How did we become that way?
Nearly 20 years ago, as Pope Saint John Paul II was ending a visit to St. Louis, he gave us this challenge: "And so America: If you want peace, work for justice. If you want justice, defend life. If you want life, embrace truth—truth revealed by God." The Holy Father's plan to end violence was wonderfully simple:
Embracing God's truth leads us to defend human life.
Defending human life is the foundation of justice.
a culture of justice can transform a tendency to violence into a movement for
Pope Saint John Paul II often warned that violence tolerated in the womb would begin to unravel respect for human life at all levels, until violence becomes the norm. Saint Teresa of Calcutta told us: "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use violence to get what they want. That is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion." And Pope Francis has consistently decried our throwaway culture in which people are discarded by those who are stronger, healthier, or in power.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reminded us at the annual U.S. bishops' meeting in Baltimore that "…civility begins in the womb. If we cannot come to love and protect innocent life from the moment God creates it, how can we properly care for each other as we come of age? Or when we come to old age?"
The only way forward in transforming violence into civility and peace is by recommitting to the defense of human life at all levels. Consider joining the bishops in this effort in these ways:
Each of us can do our part to educate, advocate, pray, and serve.May our prayers, works and personal sacrifices (yes, even abstinence from entertainment with themes of violence) inspire us to be missionary disciples to a world so in need of God's mercy and healing.
Tom Grenchik is the Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.
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