Catholic political leaders have a fundamental responsibility to ensure their public actions reflect the Church's teachings on respect for life and the dignity of the human person, said Fargo Bishop Samuel Aquila in a homily during the Catholic Legislative Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Bismarck, January 18.
"Every act of violence that attacks an innocent human person from the moment of conception to natural death is against the will of God and rejects the inherent dignity of the human person," Bishop Aquila wrote in an edited version of the homily printed in the Fargo diocesan newsletter New Earth, February 15, 2007. "Every Catholic politician must recognize and act upon this truth to be a faithful Catholic."
"As a Church we are called to be a people who speak consistently to the dignity of the human person from the moment of his or her conception until natural death and to recognize that this reality is the lens through which we must look and the one that must guide all of our decisions — that human life has dignity bestowed on it, not by man or woman, but by God. It is precisely that dignity, that truth, which we must recognize as Catholics who are involved in politics, as Catholics who speak to society and to the world."
Bishop Aquila called for careful deliberation before making legislative decisions to ensure that, "the truth of God and the truth of the dignity of the human person…guide us in every decision we make."
"We cannot leave God at the door when we walk into the Legislature…With each law or bill we consider, we must be, first, a people who recognize that there is the inherent dignity of human life that is bestowed by God and that can never be violated."
"We must ask ourselves what hardens the human heart so much that it refuses to recognize the dignity of the human person, whether it is the dignity of those in Africa, the dignity of illegal aliens, the dignity of the person on death row or the dignity of the unborn child. As Catholics and as Americans, we must discover once again what our forefathers knew in their hearts: The dignity of the human person is bestowed by God, and regardless of which side of the aisle we sit on in the Legislature, we must stand for that dignity and that truth! We must be a people who witness to it no matter what the cost."
"To deny or remove God from political discourse only opens the door to the destruction of the human person and to violence such as war, genocide, murder, abortion, and euthanasia as so evidenced throughout the last century and at the beginning of this new century."
"As faithful Catholics we acknowledge that the gravest attacks against the dignity of human life are those that destroy innocent human life as in abortion, euthanasia and genocide."
"During the upcoming season of Lent, I encourage all Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians and those in public service, to search their hearts on their obedience to the will of the Father," Bishop Aquila wrote in closing. "Let us pray that we may have the fortitude, not to follow the positions of some political party or some thought that wishes to deny God or remove God from all civil discourse in order to determine the dignity of the human person, but rather to be people who truly seek the common good in the light of the truths that our forefathers and foremothers held to be so evident and are reflected in both reason and faith. May every person come to recognize that the inherent dignity of human life is bestowed, not by man or woman, but by God alone. May we experience more fully the truth of God's love for us, receive his love and extend it to others."