Friday, May 16, 2008

Protect Life in All its Phases with Courage and Love

Address of the Holy Father to the Italian Movement for Life
May 12, 2008

* * * Looking at the past three decades, and considering the present situation, one cannot fail to acknowledge that to defend human life has become today practically more difficult, because a mentality has been created for the progressive debasement of its value, now entrusted to individual judgment. As a consequence, there has been less respect for the human being himself, a value which is at the basis of every civil co-existence, regardless of the faith one professes.
Certainly, the causes which lead to painful decisions like abortion are many and complex. If, on the one hand, the Church, faithful to the command of its Lord, does not tire in reiterating that the sacred value of every man's existence has its roots in the Creator's design, on the other, it stimulates and promotes every initiative in support of women and families that will create conditions favorable to welcoming life, and to the protection of the family as an institution based on matrimony between a man and a woman.

Allowing recourse to the interruption of pregnancy not only has failed to resolve the problems which afflict many women and not a few nuclear families, but has opened a wound in our society, already aggravated by profound sufferings.

In truth, commitment has been profuse during all these years, not only from the Church, to meet the needs and respond to the difficulties faced by families. But we cannot hide from the fact that many problems continue to grip today's society, preventing many young people from getting married and raising a family, because of the unfavorable conditions in which they live. Lack of secure employment, laws that often lack protection for mothers, the impossibility of assuring adequate sustenance to children, are some of the impediments which seem to stifle the expression of fruitful love, even as they open the door to a growing sense of mistrust in the future.

Therefore, it is necessary to unite all efforts so that the different institutions may once again place at the center of their activities the defense of human life with priority attention to the family, the cell in which life is born and develops. The family must be helped with every legislative instrument that will facilitate its formation and its educative work in today's none-too-easy social context.

For Christians, this fundamental unit of society is always open as an urgent and indispensable field of apostolate and of testifying to the Gospel: to protect life in all its phases with courage and love. Because of this, dear brothers and sisters, I ask the Lord to bless the activities which, as Centers of Aid to Life and as a Movement for Life, you carry out to prevent abortion even in the case of difficulty pregnancies, working at the same time on the educational and cultural levels, as well as in public debate.

It is necessary to testify concretely that respect for life is the first form of justice that must be applied. For anyone who has the gift of faith, this becomes a binding imperative, because a follower of Christ is called on to be ever more the "prophet" of a truth that can never be eliminated: God alone is the Lord of life.

Every man is known and loved, desired and guided by Him. The greatest and most profound unity of mankind lies in the fact that every human being is the realization of a unique plan of God, and everyone has his origin from God's creative principle. Thus, one understands why the Bible says whoever profanes man, profanes a possession of God (cfr Jn 9,5).

This year is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which has the merit of having allowed different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and therefore, of rights. As I reminded the member-nations during my recent visit to the United Nations, "human rights should be respected as an expression of justice and not simply because compliance can be compelled through the will of legislators. The promotion of human rights, therefore, remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities among nations and social groups, as well as for improving security."

Because of this, your commitment in the political field is even more praiseworthy as an aid and stimulus to institutions so that they may give the proper recognition to the word "human dignity." Your initiative with the Commission for Petitions at the European Parliament, in which you affirm the fundamental values of the right to life from conception, of the family founded on the matrimony between a man and a woman, of the right of every human being conceived to be born and to be educated in a family with parents, further confirms the solidity of your commitment and your full communion with the Magisterium of the Church, which has always proclaimed and defended such values as "non-negotiable."

Dear brothers and sisters, when he met with you on May 22, 1998, John Paul II exhorted you to persevere in your task of love and defense of human life, and recalled that thanks to you, so many babies have experienced the joy of the invaluable gift of life. Ten years later, it is I who thank you for the service that you have given the Church and society. How many human lives you have saved from death!

Continue along this path and do not be afraid, because the smile of life will triumph on the lips of all the babies and their mothers. I entrust each of you, and all the persons you encounter in the Centers for Aid to Life, to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Family, and as I assure you of remembrance in my prayers, I bless you all from the heart as well as all those who are part of the Movements for Life in Italy, in Europe and in the whole world.

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