Archbishop Richard Smith
EDMONTON – The culture of life is grounded on the inalienable dignity of each person, says Archbishop Richard Smith.
That dignity of the person, in turn, is rooted in the link between human life and the family, the archbishop said during the Mass for Life May 9.
The Mass, which Smith concelebrated with Ukrainian Catholic Bishop David Motiuk and Grouard-McLennan Archbishop Gerard Pettipas, was held at St. Joseph's Basilica just prior to March for Life.
The Mass, which Smith offered for the cause of life, fell within the archdiocesan Week for Life and Family, a national initiative of the Canadian bishops.
The week, the archbishop said, is intended to help foster a culture of life in Canada.
By naming this a Week for Life and Family, the bishops are drawing attention to the inseparable link between the two, Smith pointed out.
"Yet what we are witnessing in our society is their growing separation."
To establish this culture of life "we must lift up the irreplaceable and foundational role of the family as intended by God in the very act of fashioning man and woman in his image and likeness," Smith said.
He said developments in biotechnology, for example, have given rise to such practices as IVF and surrogate parenting, "which sunder the creation and nurture of life from the marital embrace of man and woman united in Matrimony, and in the process weaken or even destroy the natural bonds of kinship that form genuine family.
"Life separated from family. Yet a true culture of life is grounded on their unity."
The family, he said, is the place where the truth of Jesus is taught, and where one learns to meet him, know him, love him and follow him.
"This happens in many ways, but the key is encounter. Everything changes when we meet the Risen Lord. As Jesus himself says in the Gospel, separation from him gives birth to sadness, but the recognition of him with us transforms all sadness into joy."
From this encounter with Christ arises an awareness of our human dignity, the archbishop said.
"Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is," he said, quoting Pope Benedict.
"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."