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Pointing at the bulletin letter's date (link) at left will display it's title.
January 21, 2007
The 5th Commandment - How Do We Interpret It?

    Monday of this week, January 22, is a Day of Penance for Violations against Human Dignity.  The church in the United States established this annual day of penance a number of years ago in order to remind Catholics of the importance of Human Dignity in general and the Right to Life in particular.

    Unfortunately, over the years, Christians have begun to look at Human Dignity as an option rather than as an obligation.  Many of us become frustrated and upset when we read about injustice or abuse in other cities in our country or in third world countries.  However, when it comes to our own lives, we are less strict in our decision making.  Perhaps we find it unsettling to witness or read about child abuse of any type but we rarely take any type of action against it.  When faced with such violations in our own neighborhoods or schools we tend to turn away hoping that someone else will deal with it or perhaps, the situation will go away by itself.  

    When we read about the distorted interpretation of Abortion rights or Right to Life agendas that many people have, it is no wonder that the Right to Life is not a priority in our lives.  For example, we read about people who are willing to kill people who work in Abortion Clinics.  There is definitely a problem with understanding and interpretation in that type of situation.  Why is murder Okay in one instance but not in another?  When we look around our world we see many types of abuse that are perpetrated.  After a while we become overwhelmed with the tragedies and we want to shut our eyes and ignore it, hoping it will go away.

    The Fifth Commandment tells us that We Shall Not Kill.  When we examine the interpretation of this Commandment we notice that this includes everyone, not only the people we like.  It includes the elderly, the sick, the marginalized, the unborn infants. The commandment does not say that we can dispose of these people when they become a “nuisance” to society or when we are tired or caring for them or when we fear that a new life will “ruin” our chances for a “good” life.

    The Fifth Commandment also includes justice to the oppressed and our taking action in cases of Abuse.  Turning our backs of such cases comes under the heading of a Sin of Omission.  This is not to say that we are all personally responsible for each and every situation that arises in our community or city or state.  However, we must take the situation seriously and ask ourselves what we can do.

    One thing we can do is become more active in the political agenda of our government.  There are many bills that are presented pro and con the Right to Life.  How do we react to these bills?  Do we take the time to read them?  Do we take the time to respond to our congressmen and women?  Do we take a stand in any form or manner?

    If we are serious about being Christian, we cannot limit our interpretation of the 5th Commandment to situations such as killing someone with our own hands or killing them with a firearm or other lethal implement.  Let’s reflect on our position on Human Dignity this week.  Then, let us ask ourselves what we can do to become more involved?  It’s really not an Option!

                            Lorette P. Nault