By Bishop Richard F. Stika
Published by the Knoxville News Sentinel
October 19, 2014
For a number of months now, I have urged all men and women of our community to support life by voting yes on Amendment One on Election Day. The importance of your yes vote can’t be understated.
Amendment One is a pro-life amendment that would neutralize the extreme interpretation taken by the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2000 in which they declared that our state constitution guarantees a right to abortion.
A yes vote would restore the life decision taken from you because of the Court’s irresponsible decision.
Every morning we awaken to the gift of life. While many of us hurry about our homes preparing for the challenges of our day—whether it’s school or work—and we often lose sight that we are surrounded by beauty God has created.
With the majesty and greatness of our Smoky Mountains, our rich valleys, our plentiful lakes and rivers and streams and the vibrant change of colors we are now witnessing with our trees and forests–all of us can agree that we are blessed to live in such a wonderful part of God’s world. Tennessee truly is God’s country.
God created this world to be shared. How blessed we should feel that we have been given that opportunity.
In today’s rapidly transitional society it is easy to lose sight of these facts—that life isn’t trivial. It isn’t expendable. It isn’t disposable.
Life isn’t made out of convenience. It shouldn’t be tossed aside for the same reason.
Life is sacred. The creation of you and me is no less a miracle and is just as impressive as the creation of the universe—we are no less significant.
Some of us have grown up to be policemen and firewomen. Some of us have grown up to teach school and coach athletes. Some of us farm land and build dams and work the checkout line at our local shopping mall. Some of us have grown up to become a priest or a preacher. But the bottom line is—we’ve all been given an opportunity to grow and experience the ups and downs of our lives.
A life taken today denies our world of future gifts. Given an opportunity to live, who is to say whether an unborn child won’t become a doctor or president or perhaps even a bishop or a pope? He or she may find the cure for cancer or land on Mars. They may say something to end a war or to free people.
The gift of life isn’t ours to end. It’s not an issue of choice.
Amendment One has received a lot of attention in recent weeks. Some will argue that restoring our right to vote through our elected legislators is less important than giving a court of appointed judges the latitude to set an agenda that conflicts with our beliefs.
For Catholics, October is celebrated as Respect Life Month. What a shame it would be that if just days after we conclude our celebration— voters in our state overlook the obvious— that respect for life can’t be confined to just one month. The morality that grounds us as faithful Christians also calls us to stand for the protection of the unborn at all times.
As Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville, I will never identify myself with any political movement—but as Christians who cherish all aspects of life—especially those experienced by the unborn, we must speak up in support of issues that Amendment One represents.
This is a moral issue of great magnitude.
For that reason, I ask you to please vote yes for Amendment One on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4.