CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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The value of life

In the act of creation, God blessed humanity, saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). God created male and female. According to the order of creation, conjugal love between the husband and the wife, and the transmission of life ago hand in hand. Man and woman, through the Sacrament of Marriage, become one and lead a unique, intimate life. In cooperation with God and according to his will, they procreate and have a share in creation. The birth of a new life is a participation in God’s amazing creation. 
 
However, today’s world is permeated by another way of thinking which tries to convince couples to, according to their own subjective wish, see children as burdens, turning procreation into an optional choice in the marital mission.
 
Contraception and abortion are getting more accesible. At the same time however, other unethical and immoral means are also being developed and packaged as being efficient, functional and effective, but these still violate the sacredness and dignity of human life. Conjugal love is by its nature, open to the acceptance of life. The couple is called to proclaim the goodness and fruitfulness that comes from God; it is necessary to rediscover the social value of that portion of the common good inherent in each new human being (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 230).
 
David extolled the Lord in his songs of praise, “I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!
 
My very self you know. My bones are not hidden from you,
 
When I was being made in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be” (Psalm 139:14-16). 
 
The journey of human life begins when the sperm unites with the egg. Human dignity does not vary according to length of life, disability or able-bodiedness, since the embryo is created by God and is born as a new person through conjugal union. There is no differential treatment because of longevity or premature death.
 
In Hong Kong, the medical profession defines stillbirth as a baby born without any sign of life at or after 24 weeks of gestation, or with a birth weight of more than 500 grams when the gestational age is uncertain. 
 
According to Hong Kong law, prior 24 weeks of gestation, a foetus is not treated as a human life, the main reason being that it cannot survive on its own if it leaves the womb at that point. A baby that leaves the womb after 24 weeks, but prior to full term, is considered a premature but is officially recognised as a person.
 
A death at less than 24-weeks-old is an abortus—a miscarriage. However, parents cannot even claim the body. This practice violates the dignity of life. Last year, through the efforts of a Catholic couple and the assistance of their pastors, the Catholic Cemetery Commission drafted a proposal to launch an Angel Garden at the Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery, Chai Wan, for miscarried babies. There will be a memorial statue and the names of the babies will written on the walls with an image of an angel. 
 
This will allow grieving parents to bury their babies with dignity, and send a message about respect for life. Human dignity does not depend on achievements, but on the fact that we are created in the image and likeness of God. 
 
God’s plan is beyond human understanding, but each life is still precious to him and to society. SE