Culture of Life

The late Blessed Pope John Paul II coined the term “Culture of Life” to help the Catholic Church and all people of good will envision what a healthy and well-formed society should be. Such a culture in society is marked by openness to new life, by strong and loving families, by secular and faith communities that support the family and provide for those who need extra care or assistance, and by a government that is just and has a proper understanding of and respect for the human person and family, and which creates structures and policies that foster true human flourishing. Such a culture is built on the idea that freedom is a gift from our Creator, and that people are only truly free when they use freedom to choose what is true and good.

In short, a Culture or Life is one in which all of society is oriented toward the good of the entire human person, and all human persons, and which seeks justice and harmony with its neighbors. This is an ideal which has never been perfectly attained, but it is important to keep the ideal in mind as a society makes decisions about its leaders and its constitution, and it is the Church’s right to communicate timeless truths about how we should live.  Pope John Paul wrote and spoke tirelessly about this positive vision for society during a time when it seemed that the alternative, a “Culture of Death” was on the rise.

The opposite of a Culture of Life, the Culture of Death is marked by a disdain for human life, a movement to redefine and undermine the natural human family, communities based on falsehoods about the human person (including seeing the human person as just an intelligent animal, not made in the image of his Creator), and governments who seek to take over all the roles of lower institutions, especially the family. Such a culture employs contraception, abortion, and seemingly endless assaults on family and faith en route to creating a world where freedom is divorced from truth, where only the powerful get their way.

The Philippines is not a wealthy nation, at least in modern terms. But it is truly wealthy in terms of life – in children and families. Long in the crosshairs of international population controllers, however, the Philippines has seen a falling fertility rate, increasing materialism, and a corrupt political elite that seeks to keep Filipino families under control. The “Reproductive Health (RH) Bill” currently under consideration is a massive attempt to create the government enforcement structures to complete the transition to a secular state with small families. Written in terms of alleviating poverty and improving “women’s health”, it directly undermines the greatest source of wealth a society can have – family and children.

Below are resources which convey more about how the Church understands a Culture of Life, and the importance of continuing to share this view with the rest of the world.

Church Teaching:

Encyclical of Pope Paul VI: Humanae Vitae (1968)

CDF: Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974)

Encyclical of Pope John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae (1995)

CDF: Instruction Dignitas Personae (2008)

Catechism of the Catholic Church on the Love of Husband and Wife (Dealing with contraception)

 

CBCP Statements on a Culture of Life, Love and Family:

Web site of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)

2010

On the Government’s Revitalized Promotion of Condoms

Securing Our Moral Heritage: Towards a Moral Society (A Pastoral Exhortation on Proposed Bills on Sex Education and Reproductive Health)

2009

Reiterating CBCP Position on Family

God Hears the Cry of the Poor

2008

Reform Yourselves and Believe in the Gospel (Mark 1:15)

Standing Up for the Gospel of Life

2007

The Dignity of the Rural Poor – A Gospel Concern

2006

Building a “Civilization of Love”

Let Us Keep Human Life Sacred

Shepherding and Prophesying in Hope: On Social Concerns

Pastoral Statement on the Alleged “People’s Initiative” to Change the Constitution

2005

Hold On to Your Precious Gift (Against population control measures)

2003

We Must Reject House Bill 4110 (Against an earlier version of the “Reproductive Health Bill”)

2002

Hope in the Midst of Crisis

The Christian Family: Good News for the Third Millennium

2001

Saving and Strengthening the Filipino Family (On the 20th anniversary of Familiaris Consortio)

2000

Building a Culture of Peace by Respecting Life and Human Rights

“That they might have life, and have it abundantly”

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