UD students participate in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. — a yearly pro-life event. Courtesy of the University of Dayton
UD Flyers for Life recently hung fliers around campus announcing their annual trip to the March for Life in Washington, DC this coming January. It has come to our attention that many of these fliers have been torn down or defaced.
We are quite disappointed in this disrespectful action.
As a Catholic and Marianist University, we strive to encourage understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially those that are rooted in the dignity of the human person. It’s one of the 3 principles in our Commitment to Community. Promoting respect for life, all life, at every stage, is one of many ways in which we seek to respect human dignity. The March for Life is a national event that promotes this principle.
We certainly respect the wide spectrum of viewpoints and political opinions on contentious life issues, including abortion, which, given graffiti on the signs, appeared to be the issue of contention for those who defaced them. But Catholics hold pro-life positions with a kind of primacy. Here’s why:
The Catholic Church’s consistent ethic of life contends that respecting all life is a necessary precondition for all sorts of important issues. The primary right of all human rights is the right to life. If some lives don’t count, then opposition to any type of discrimination and prejudice— racism, gender discrimination, homophobia, ableism, etc.–has no foundation. The promotion of a clean environment free from the problems of climate change can also be based on the dignity of all human beings and all life. Caring for the needs of the homeless, the hungry, the sick, those suffering from natural disasters, those suffering from mass shootings, refugees, migrants seeking asylum, prisoners unjustly convicted or sentenced, supporting women, children, and families whose basic needs are not able to be met, etc. are all issues that need to be founded on a respect for all human life. Flyers for Life works to end abortion, and also promotes this broader consistent life ethic.
Every member of our university community may not subscribe to the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion. We may also differ on preferred legislative actions that will effectively decrease abortions in the US. Even so, the disrespect that was shown to the members of this student organization represents the growing culture of contempt in the US and a violation of the very sense of community that we strive to achieve here at UD.
Our hope in Campus Ministry is that students will recognize and respect that God has created all people with dignity. We also hope that students will seek to create and sustain real community by rising above contempt to show respect for those with whom they may disagree – choosing dialogue, education, and communication that seeks to understand.
We are called as a society and as a Church, to reverence all of God’s creation in ways that truly promote human dignity. It starts here. Today. With one another. This is what it means to be Catholic and Marianist. And it is challenging. But life depends on it.
Crystal Sullivan, Executive Director of Campus Ministry
Nick Cardilino, Director of the Center for Social Concern