The apostolic administrator of the Catholic Church in Hong Kong has invited Christians to “revisit the notion of the culture of life” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In his message for this year’s Pro-Life Day, which was postponed to Sept. 8, Cardinal John Tong said the pandemic “drives us to reflect on the values and meaning of life.”
The prelate warned that the treatment offered by some countries, including the “herd immunity” approach, “might lead to high mortality for the aged and the weak.”
He said these policies and attitudes “intensify the impact of the culture of death” on people, noting that the pandemic has already claimed more than 810,000 lives.
“Such ignorance, stubbornness, and negligence have devalued our vulnerable brothers and sisters and cause us to neglect our responsibility to care for our sick,” said Cardinal Tong.
The prelate noted that this year marks the 25th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical “The Gospel of Life,” or Evangelium Vitae.
He said the encyclical explained that the culture of death “causes the value of life to undergo a kind of eclipse.”
Cardinal Tong said Pope St. John Paul II has “invited us to contemplate the meaning of life, its greatness, and fantasy.”
“He hoped that we respect life as inviolable, and a person has the right to life. It is because each person is created in the image of God, unique and with dignity, intellect, and freedom,” he added.
The cardinal said the encyclical Evangelium Vitae is “meant to be a precise and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability.”
He said it is also “a pressing appeal” addressed to each member of the human family to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life.”
Building a culture of life
Cardinal Tong said the value of a person “is not determined by his ability, academic achievement, or wealth, but simply because he is a person irrespective of any disability or incapability.”
The prelate lauded the sacrifices of many priests who visit dying patients and the sick despite the risk of contracting the new coronavirus disease.
“Their sacrifices show us the true value of life and their unconditional love to serve others,” he said.
The prelate said these priests, some of whom have died due to the disease, “live out Jesus’s words – ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’”
He said accompanying the poor and caring for the sick “helps to build up the culture of life,” and fulfills the commandment of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
The cardinal said that in order to “foster” a new culture of life, Christians have to “obey God’s commandment — Thou shall not kill.”
He encouraged the public to support all programs, organizations, and teachings that “promote the values of life and serve the Gospel of life.”
The prelate said Christians must also treat every human life “as a gift from God, sacred and inviolable, from the time of conception to the time of natural death.”
“In all circumstances, life should be respected and protected by everyone and by society,” he added.
The prelate condemned “abortion by intention and euthanasia,” which he said are “absolutely unacceptable.”
There are 40 million of abortions a year in the world, the cardinal said.
Formation of conscience
Cardinal Tong, meanwhile, hit how societies and the mass media “are deeply influenced by the culture of death.”
He accused them of tolerating or promoting “the violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity.”
He said these are causing “confusion” between good and evil, precisely in relation to the “fundamental right to life.”
“We need to do more work and education on procreation, pain, and suffering, so as to nourish a correct conscience,” he said.
The prelate said that there is a “dramatic clash between the culture of life and the culture of death” in the large part of contemporary society.
He stressed the need to develop deep critical thinking, capable of discerning true values, and authentic needs.
“Let us love and respect every human life, walk forward patiently and courageously, to foster the ‘culture of life’ which is the fruit of truth and love,” said the prelate.