Jeremiah 29:11

Brothers and Sisters,

Since the we’ve started the twenty-first century, we have seen the terms “rights” and “human rights” used far beyond their actual scope.  For example, some politicians have called a collegiate education a human right, secular people have demanded that the absence of any sense of religion in the public sphere to be a fundamental human right.  Even more modern an idea:  the conviction that it is one’s right to not be disturbed by something with-which one disagrees – this is the idea behind so-called “micro-offenses/aggressions.”

I must interject that these things do not constitute a right or a human right.  Rights are a guarantee that one is able to fulfil one’s duties in life.  I, for example, have the goal of getting to Heaven; therefore I must have the right to practice my religion.  Another person may want to have a large family to help work a large farm; therefore, such a person must have the right to have as many children as that person and that person’s spouse are willing to have.

The idea, for example, that freedom from religion is a right does not work.  For a number of years now in France there has been an intentional effort to remove all appearance of religion from the public sector – even trying to prevent priests from wearing the collar in public and preventing Eucharistic Processions.  Such postulations would actually interfere with a more fundamental right of another – my wearing a priestly collar does not prevent someone else from choosing not to be Catholic or to even contradict me.

Ultimately, there is a hierarchy of rights; some rights are more foundational than others.  For example, my right to adequate food and shelter does not mean that I do not have to assist the poor; no matter how little money and time I may have, I am required to sacrifice some of both to assist others who are poor.

There is a right, of course, upon-which all other rights necessarily rest.  Holy Mother Church insists that the right to life is the most foundational of all human rights.  Without life, we cannot hold any other rights at all.  As our Declaration of Independence so correctly stated many years ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [people] are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  It is very true – the first and most important of all rights is the right to life.

In October, our parishes will celebrate human life and our fundamental, foundational right to be alive.

God be near,

Father Jeremy