“Choose life,” Moses exhorts the people. “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.”
While the choice for life over death may seem simple, the ethical tradition of Catholic Social Teaching is more complex. At Vatican II, the bishops wrote:
There must be made available to all [persons] everything necessary for leading a life truly human, such as food, clothing, and shelter; the right to choose a state of life freely and to found a family; the right to education, to employment, to a good reputation, to respect, to appropriate information, to activity in accord with the upright norm of one’s conscience, to protection of privacy, and to rightful freedom in matters religious too. (Gaudium et Spes, Paragraph 26)
Choosing life means securing the necessities of food, clothing, and shelter for all in resistance to corporate practices and excessive consumption that reserve these as luxuries for only some of us.
Choosing life means affirming a range of the states of life we might seek, including the choice to found a family.
Choosing life means the right to education for all, the right to employment for all, the right to a good reputation, respect, information, and privacy for all.
Choosing life means the freedom to practice all forms of religion.
In the U.S., these rights have too often been secured for White Christians and denied to White Christianity’s Others.
- As we begin the season of Lent in self-reflection and recommitment to choosing life for the whole person and all persons, how will you choose life for those who have been denied it?
- In choosing life for my Others, am I willing to heed Jesus’ call that I may risk losing my own?
Jeannine Hill Fletcher is Professor of Theology at Fordham University, Bronx, NY. Her upcoming book The Sin of White Supremacy: Christianity, Racism and Religious Diversity will be published by Orbis (fall 2017).