Summary: Catholic Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver has issued a pastoral letter expressing concerns about the increasing acceptance of marijuana and other drugs. The letter, “That They May Have Life,” combines natural law, Catholic ethical teaching, and medical data to argue against the legalization of drugs.
Denver’s Catholic Leader Addresses the Risks of Legalizing Drugs
In the wake of Colorado’s progressive stance on legalizion, Catholic Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver has raised alarms about the serious problems arising from the legalization of marijuana and other drugs. His pastoral letter, “That They May Have Life,” brings together Catholic teachings and medical data to argue against legalizing drugs.
Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012 and became the first state to permit its sale in 2014, has also recently legalized psychedelic mushrooms. However, Archbishop Aquila points to the alarming increase in drug overdoses in the United States, with 106,699 Americans dying from drug overdoses in 2021.
The letter emphasizes the devastating effects of drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl, opioids, and others on society. Aquila argues that drugs hinder our ability to know and love God by impairing reason, weakening the will, and training emotions to seek quick relief from artificial pleasure. He cites the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, stating that drug use seriously reduces personal freedom and diminishes the ability to make free choices.
Aquila counters arguments that marijuana is harmless, citing studies showing increased marijuana use disorder in Colorado and the drug’s impact on executive functioning. He also highlights the connection between marijuana use and mental disorders like psychosis and schizophrenia.
The archbishop calls for a more complete proclamation of the Gospel to deter drug use and inspire people to break free from its influence. He emphasizes the role of the family in preventing drug use and developing the inner life of youth through prayer, sacraments, and the Eucharist.
In conclusion, Aquila urges all Christians to share their faith and the difference it makes in their daily lives to help protect against drug use. He highlights the importance of redemptive suffering, encouraging people to find meaning in their pain by uniting it with Christ’s sacrifice.
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