Bishops' Document

Cherishing Life

11/02/2014 12:15 pm

Welcoming hands

Introduction

In 2004, the Bishops of England and Wales released a document called 'Cherishing Life'. It examined in detail our roles and responsibilities as Catholics to live well and uphold our God-given human dignity and that of those around us.

The document focused on a wide range of subjects from marriage and the family, to morality, sexuality and bioethics. The Church's teaching on abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, love and relationships, embryo experimentation and medical research are explained in 'Cherishing Life'.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor wrote: "In our society, there are many signs of the ways in which human life is cherished; respect for those who live with disability, debate about adequate healthcare for the elderly and widespread concern for the protection of children from harm. The majority of people wish to live in a society where the values of honesty, trust and integrity enable us to flourish as individuals and with others. Such values require the building of an ethos of life that protects persons from womb to tomb, especially the most vulnerable."

Foreword

In our society, there are many signs of the ways in which human life is cherished; respect for those who live with disability, debate about adequate healthcare for the elderly and widespread concern for the protection of children from harm. The majority of people wish to live in a society where the values of honesty, trust and integrity enable us to flourish as individuals and with others. Such values require the building of an ethos of life that protects persons from womb to tomb, especially the most vulnerable.

However, we can also identify signs of a culture of death; the tragic number of abortions, the demand for legislation which permits euthanasia, diminishing respect for the elderly and the vulnerable, and lack of protection for marriage and the family. There is deep concern about crime in local communities and many live in fear of violence.Eight years ago the Bishops of England and Wales published The Common Good and the Catholic Church’s Social Teaching. In that document we addressed then questions of social life in England and Wales as we sought to educate and support Catholics in their social responsibilities as citizens and to help build a society founded on values that are consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We now present Cherishing Life to complement The Common Good and to underline our concern to place the gift of life at the heart of all moral reflection and action.

During 1995 Pope John Paul II wrote his encyclical letter The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). He described the drama between the culture of life and the culture of death enacted in the midst of contemporary societies. In Cherishing Life we consider the signs of this drama in our own society and seek to respond in the light of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church.

Jesus Christ calls all Christians to holiness and to make a faithful response to God’s gracious invitation of merciful love. Christian faith is expressed through love, good actions and sacrifice - and so everydecision involves some renunciation. That is why Christians live in the hope that earthly death is not the end of life, but the beginning of a transformed life shared with the Risen Christ. In Cherishing Life we are reaching out to offer this hope to others.

For Catholics, the Bishops give guidance about the teaching of the Church and educate the conscience in the forming of a judgement about what is morally right to do and what is to be avoided. The rapidly developing areas of genetics, medicine and legislation, for example, raise many moral questions and affect everyone living in our countries. As teachers we wish to give guidance about the foundations of the Christian moral life and provide principles to help us all to make a further contribution to public debate: we have an important part to play in society in influencing legislation and shaping values.

We share many values with other Christians and those of other faiths and none and together we can strive to ensure that life is cherished. We hope that in articulating what Catholics believe we can help others to understand the teaching of the Catholic Church and with those who share our values make an important contribution to the common good of our society.

+ Cormac Cardinal Murphy O’Connor

Read/Download

You can read or download both Cherishing Life and its accompanying Study Guide by using the links in the top right-hand corner of this page.

Download

Cherishing Life - 2004

cherishing-life-2004.pdf 514.16 kB

The Bishops' 2004 document gives a Catholic perspective on some fundamental moral issues relating to the moral and spiritual well-being of the human person in society.

Download

Cherishing Life - Study Guide - 2004

cherishing-life-study-guide-2004.pdf 176.26 kB

A study guide for the Bishops' 2004 document Cherishing Life on the moral and spiritual well-being of the human person in society.