Joint Statement: Sanctity of Human Life and Family Values




Joint Statement of Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the   Jews and Chief Rabbinate of Israel"s Commission for the Jewish-Catholic Dialogue


Rome, February 27, 2003


The Sanctity of Human Life


1. Human life is of unique and highest value in our world. Any attempt to destroy human   life must be rejected, and every common effort should be made, in order to promote human   rights, solidarity among all human beings, respect for freedom of conscience.


2. Our common religious motivation for this central affirmation is based on the biblical   statement that the human being is created in the image of the living God, in His likeness   (cf. Genesis 1:26). God is the Holy One and the Creator of human life, and the human being   is blessed and obliged by His holiness. Therefore every human life is holy, sacrosanct and   inviolable. According to Leviticus 19:2 God"s holiness constitutes an essential imperative   for the moral behaviour: "You shall be holy for I am Holy, the Lord your God!"


3. To protect human life is an evident ethical consequence of this conviction. Every   believer, particularly religious leaders, should cooperate in protecting human life. Any   attack against the life of a human being runs contrary to the will of God, is a desecration   of God"s Name, directly opposed to the teaching of the prophets. Taking any human life,   including one"s own, even in the name of God, is sacrilegious.As was emphasized time and   again by Pope John Paul II in his message for the World Day of Peace 2002, no religious   leader can condone terrorism everywhere in the world. It is a profanation of religion to   declare oneself a terrorist in the name of God, to do violence to others in his name.   Terrorist violence everywhere in the world is a contradiction of faith in God, the Creator   of man, who cares for man and loves him.


4. As religious leaders of faith communities we have an extraordinary responsibility for   the education of our communities and particularly the younger generation in respect for   holiness of human life. We should not admit any killing in the name of God who commands   "You shall not kill" (Exodus 20: 13; Deuteronomy 5:17), avoiding fanatical or   violent abuse of religion, as Jewish, Christian and Moslem leaders declared in the common   statement of Alexandria (January 2002). We all should unite our energies towards the   construction of a better world for life, brotherhood, justice, peace and love among all.


5. There are cultural and educational implications regarding our cooperation in this   field. All educators should strengthen their efforts in devising programmes to educate the   young in respect for the highest value of human life. Against the present trend of violence   and death in our societies, we should foster our cooperation with believers of all religions   and all people of good will in promoting a "culture of life".


Family Values


1. The institution of the family stems from the will of the Almighty who created human   being in the image of God; "male and female He created them" (Genesis 1: 27).   Marriage in a religious perspective has a great value because God blessed this union and   sanctified it.


2. Family and home unity provides a warm and protecting surrounding that nurtures   children and ensures their proper education, in keeping with tradition and beliefs. The   family unit is the basis for a wholesome society.


3. Doubtless the electronic and media revolution has brought about positive changes in   society. However, at the same time too often, a negative influence on behaviour of society   has developed. Adults and the young alike are exposed to distorted and perverted aspects of   life, such as violence and pornography. As religious leaders we are challenged by these   destructive developments.


4. More than ever, we are obliged to educate at home and in the school towards family   values, following our rich religious traditions. Parents should devote much more time to   show their love to their children and guide them towards positive attitudes. Among other   important family values we should stress love, unselfishness, care for life and mutual   responsibility for children and parents (cf. Exodus 20: 12; Deuteronomy 5: 16). In such   perspective, we cannot agree to alternative models of couples" union and of the family.