A Moral Order to Protect Human Rights

<i> Roger Mahony is the archbishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Los Angeles. </i>

We in Los Angeles need to begin the 1990s asking ourselves how seriously we take our personal responsibility to uphold objective morality.

Los Angeles enters this last decade of the century facing a gridlock of human problems not entirely susceptible to human, secular solutions. Most are at root moral problems.

The social, economic and political health of the city rests on fidelity to a moral order. A truly human society must rest on a bedrock of moral values if that society is to endure.

Los Angeles residents must boldly examine their personal obligation to uphold the primacy of objective moral values over subjective whim or personal convenience. This obligation means being neither passive about our individual consciences nor indifferent to the needs of our neighbor. The moral order integrates all human activity and assures tranquility, security, contentment and freedom for the fulfillment of human aspirations.


Moral disorder erodes and destroys freedom, victimizes the human person, harms the innocent, ruins our fragile environment, jeopardizes the very physical safety of citizens, burdens taxpayers--it addicts and enslaves those given to defying moral norms.

One litmus test of a culture is the treatment of children. Are they safe in school, on the playground, on neighborhood streets, in the home, even in their mother’s womb?

Are there not muggers and molesters in society who threaten the very life of children, even of the preborn child in its supposedly safest dwelling?

Are adults also not victimized by promoters of pornography, peddlers of drugs, organizers of gangs, producers of sleazy entertainment that says infidelity and promiscuity are no big deal? What about policies that telegraph to teen-agers that immoral sexual activity is to be taken for granted and, in effect, condoned?

Upholding moral standards is often denigrated as narrow religious sectarianism, but to reject objective morality stemming from the laws of God and nature over 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian history is also to reject America’s own experience.

Our Founding Fathers understood that human beings are divinely created and because of this are endowed with inalienable rights that come from God--not from a state, a church, a government or any other entity. To protect these human rights God established a moral order. To reject it is to jeopardize human dignity and freedom, to be untrue to the nature God gave us.

What Los Angeles needs for the 1990s are assertive citizens who are lovers of true freedom in the light of moral laws, who can by example inspire others to do what is morally true and right, who can in their daily lives and community maintain in Southern California a high moral tenor.

Those who live up to the name of our City of the Angels in the coming decade will be an effective moral force and the conscience of the community. Together we can build a unique city of equal opportunity for all.