The Limits of Human Life

Cherishing Life, the Bishops’ 2004 document on the moral and spiritual well-being of the human person in society, offers clear definitions of subjects concerned with the dignity of life from conception to natural death.

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There is a mystery at the heart of each of us that cannot be reduced to our place in society or the talents or qualities we happen to have. Christians express this mystery by saying that every human being has a spiritual ‘soul’ directly created by God. We should always think of soul and life together as in the phrase ‘the life and soul of the party’. The soul is not something extra added to human life, but is what moves and shapes that life.

The human being is neither merely a physical body nor merely a ghost living inside a body. The human being is a living whole, a unity of body and soul. This unity is the foundation of many rights, for instance, the right to religious freedom. People need to express their spiritual lives in bodily ways, through actions, words and gestures, as in the words of Scripture ‘use your body for the glory of God’ (1 Corinthians 6: 20).