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Protecting human life

THE FEAST OF the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 31 is also marks the third year the Pro-Life Day will celebrated in the Diocese of Hong Kong.
 
Many places overseas organise pro-life processions to show their concern for the unborn, whose lives are especially fragile. These silent ones are the least able to defend their own lives.
 
Last December, while the world celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome convened an international conference on Human Rights in the Contemporary World: Achievements, Omissions, Negations. 
 
Pope Francis, in his letter to the conference, pointed out that unfortunately, “numerous forms of injustice persist today in the world, fuelled by … an economic model founded on profit, which doesn’t hesitate to exploit, to reject and even to kill man. While a part of humanity lives in opulence, another part sees its dignity unknown, scorned and trampled and its fundamental rights ignored and violated.”
 
The pope said that among those whose human rights are ignored are the unborn who are denied the right to come to the world, and the victims of forced disappearances and of their families.
 
Human life begins at conception. However, in modern society, when a couple thinks about whether to accept a human life or not, they have many other considerations, including whether they are willing to adjust their lifestyle, whether working hours will accommodate child-rearing needs, and whether the financial situation allows. 
 
In face of these, we should first understand that human life has priority since it is a gift from God. The second issue is helping concerned parties understand and accept this. In particular, Christian communities should provide support to needy families.
 
The Hong Kong Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs has called for a family wage (or the living wage proposed by other social welfare organisations). It has also urged the government to prescribe the maximum working hours so that parents have basic family time. Some organisations already run hostels to accommodate to young pregnant women in difficulty. 
 
In addition to protecting the unborn, pro-life is also concerned with elderly and hospice care.
 
The late Bishop Michael Yeung, at during his installation Mass as bishop of Hong Kong, said that society needs to care for two communities: the elderly and the young people. “Alas, many caregivers, such as spouses, are themselves elderly and lack relational and other support,” he observed. 
 
Over the past two years, with Bishop Yeung’s homily is still ringing in our ears, there was a spate of news stories about elderly couples looking after each other which ended in tragedy.
 
Are the current policies for the care of the elderly appropriate and are the services adequate and do meet the needs of the people? It is essential for the government to formulate appropriate policies and services.
 
It is out of our love for life that we talk about pro-life. This love urges us to be outspoken, demands the improvement of social policies and welfare, and requires us to care for the needy around us. SE