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September 26, 2016

The dignity and sanctity of human life is the value of most central importance in the Catholic Church's approach to the ordering of society. This is not a one-issue stance, but a call that should resound through all of society's deliberations and decisions.

Yet, in setting the autonomy of the individual as its cornerstone, Western society has increasingly turned its back on the dignity of the human person. The common good has been shifted into the background. As a result, Canada and other nations are plagued, not only with abortion and euthanasia, but the spectre of global warming, the worldwide impoverishment of hundreds of millions of people and the social isolation of millions more.

Our crisis is a love crisis, the inability or refusal to see beyond our own desires to the needs of others. For the first time in history, humanity has the potential to form a global family where the needs and dignity of all are respected. The message of Christianity that God is love has never been more relevant.

The victims of the failure to love are manifold - refugees, immigrants, the unborn, First Nations people, the dying, women, the disabled, the impoverished, the mentally ill, racial and ethnic minorities, addicts, people of diverse sexual orientations, and those who belong to minority religions including Christianity.

The answer lies not in a competition for the highest victim status among such groups, but in a social commitment to love of the person. The solution is not to erect walls, but to open hearts. That will mean legislative change, but more deeply, it means a change in attitudes and culture.

Still, the greatest attention should go to those whose lives are in immediate danger. In Canada, this means the unborn and those facing the prospect of assisted suicide. Globally, it also includes the impoverished and the current and potential victims of climate change. Huge numbers of individual lives are being taken; humanity faces threats to its very existence.

Throughout its 51 years, the Western Catholic Reporter has stood foursquare for the Church's social teaching and the inviolability of human life. The former has been called the Church's greatest secret; the latter is no secret, but a truth widely ignored.

As the WCR publishes its last issue, we raise our voice one last time for Church and society to wrap themselves in the seamless garment of human life and dignity. Christ wore that garment to Calvary; even the Roman soldiers dared not tear it.

Today, no such compunction exists. The seamless garment has become a tattered rag as the me-society pulls it apart from every direction.

By definition, a seamless garment cannot be knit back together. Yet, knitting must be undertaken. The WCR will not be part of that process. All we can do is pass on one last word of encouragement to respect the human person.