Culture of Life
“Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth. All human beings, from their mother’s womb, belong to God who searches them and knows them, who forms them and knits them together with his own hands, who gazes on them when they are tiny shapeless embryos and already sees in them the adults of tomorrow whose days are numbered and whose vocation is even now written in the ‘book of life.’ There too, when they are still in their mothers’ womb—as many passages of the Bible bear witness—they are the personal objects of God’s loving and fatherly providence.” (Evangelium Vitae, 61).
In his 1995 Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II called on all Catholic faithful to bear witness to the Gospel of Life and to build the “civilization of life and love” (100). In keeping with this mission and our Order’s Catholic principles of charity, unity, and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus stands strong in its conviction that every human life is a gift of God, endowed with certain inalienable rights—the first among these being the right to life. Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, we believe that human life is sacred and inviolable, and ought to be defended with maximum determination. To this end, the Knights of Columbus supports policies that promote a Culture of Life and opposes legislative efforts that promote abortion, contraception, sterilization, cloning, the destruction of embryos, assisted suicide, euthanasia, unjust war, and the death penalty when there is an acceptable alternative.
Our Order’s steadfast defense and promotion of a Culture of Life is grounded on our ultimate assurance that in the natural law written in the heart of every person is the recognition that human life is sacred from its very beginning to its end. In the depths of our consciousness, human intellect knows that the very source of its existence—i.e. human life—ought to be protected and celebrated. In that regard, the message of the Knights of Columbus extends far beyond our Order and our religious creed; it is a universal message that every person of good will can come to affirm.
The right to life is unlike any other right. It is the most basic right and the condition of all other personal rights, constituting the foundation of every human community and the political community itself. St. John Paul II famously noted that if human life itself is not respected, then respect for all other rights—for example, the right to health, to marriage, to culture, to religion—is “false and illusory.” Human rights of every kind are “incomprehensible” without the right to life. Our Order, therefore, joins the universal Church in acknowledging the dignity of human life and in its efforts to achieve legal and constitutional protection for every human person at the international, national, state, and local levels.