THE SCOURGE OF DOMESTIC ABUSE - DAY OF LIFE 2021
Today is the international ‘Day for Life’ Sunday, a day which is celebrated across the universal Catholic Church. On this day we are reminded of the need to respect life – our own life and the life of others. As we know from recent history there are many challenges to the Christian belief that all life is sacred from the womb to the tomb, and those challenges seem to be increasing each year.
This year our Catholic bishops have designated the theme for Day for Life as ‘The Scourge of Domestic Abuse’.
Domestic violence and abuse, particularly against women and children, has, unfortunately, been an ever present factor in human relationships over the centuries. However domestic abuse remains as a very serious problem in our contemporary society and is a hidden form of toxic behaviour in some families throughout the world. In recent years we have experienced a number of terrible cases of domestic abuse in our own country leading to extreme violence and murder. Such awful events remind us of what can happen if subtle abuse and manipulation of a spouse is allowed to fester and grow into something sinister and threatening.
The latest figures outlined in the bishops’ pastoral letter, The Scourge of Domestic Abuse, indicate that one-in-four women and about one-in-six men suffer from domestic abuse during their lifetime. According to a 2018 report by Women’s Aid, almost nine out of every ten women murdered in Ireland were killed by a man known to them. Women’s Aid has stated that the dangerous patterns present in abusive relationships are often not taken seriously by others, and this can put a woman at risk of serious assault or homicide. Within or without families, violence of any kind should never be tolerated or justified. It is an offence against the dignity of the human person.
As Pope Francis wrote in his 2016 best-selling Encyclical Letter Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family): ‘the shameful ill-treatment to which women are sometimes subjected … are craven acts of cowardice. The verbal, physical and sexual violence that women endure in some marriages contradicts the very nature of the conjugal union.’
The annual ‘Day for Life’ also gives us an opportunity to look at other issues affecting the sanctity and dignity of human life that we encounter every day in our own ministry locally, nationally and internationally. We need to write to our MP asking his support in not voting to change the law on Abortion.
Our society is suffering threats to the value and sacredness of human life – domestic abuse, abortion and drug related violence – are symptoms of a society that is losing its moral compass and which places little value on anything other than the individual’s right to choose in all matters even if those choices bring destruction on themselves or others. This ‘Day for Life’ helps us to reflect on this crucial issue and to today’s Gospel give us guidance when faced with difficult choices particularly in relation to the sacredness of life. Jesus calls on us to have faith in God at all times. Even a small amount of faith – faith the size of mustard seed – will get us through the most difficult of situations. Let us pray now for an increase of that faith so that we will have the courage, and the clarity of thought, that we need to counter the culture of death shadowing our world. We are privilege here at St. Benedict's that we are the home for COHORT 4 WOMEN which cares for women in domestic abuse situations, women from prison, recovering from substance abuse etc. In our community hall three days a week women come for counselling, friendship, support, advice on many issues, and to enjoy a meal with others. In supporting this charity we are acting in a way to fight the scourge of domestic abuse. May our relationship with Cohort 4 continue to strengthen and develop.