As a high school moral theology teacher, and especially after a tumultuous political season, I’m deeply invested in whether my students gain a solid understanding of a consistent Catholic ethic of life—which recognizes the human person’s inalienable dignity from womb to tomb. Whatever their future vocation, I hope they retain a deep-in-their-bones conviction that all human life, and indeed all of God’s creation, has profound value that must be nurtured and protected.
If education is to be transformative, it must engage the mind, capture the imagination, and spark a desire for real engagement with the world. Julián Carrón writes, “Education is not explaining reality or forming some argument about it; it is helping another person . . . enter into reality” (“A Communication of Yourself,” in Disarming Beauty: Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom, 168). This kind of education is not a passive memorization of facts, but rather an “encounter.” Such encounters captivate the attention, propose “a hypothesis of meaning,” and inspire students to search for what is good, true, and beautiful.
For over 2000 years, the Catholic Church has proclaimed that every human person has inherent dignity and inestimable worth. Though one of the greatest gifts handed down to cultures and societies across history, this proclamation is perhaps the most audacious the Church announces in the modern world. Amidst the violence and chaos of the world, the Church consistently calls on each one of us to recognize and act in accordance with the dignity of each and every human being, from conception to natural death. Catholic school educators, regardless of the subject they teach, have a responsibility to inculcate this fundamental belief in their students.
Over the past few months, the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s Office of Life and Human Dignity has been hosting a series of webinars entitled “Conversations that Matter.” The goal of this series is to spark authentic dialogue that deepens our commitment to our fellow sisters and brothers without the polarization and vitriol that currently characterize these conversations. This semester’s focus is the “Intersection of Justice and Pregnancy.” These particular webinars are structured to widen the scope of understanding about the work of the pro-life movement, societal structures that impact women, and supporting women who are in crisis. In learning more about these topics, we hope that conversations will move beyond the categories of pro-life and pro-choice to empathy and creativity in support of both moms and their unborn children.