Defending life is not an ideology for the Church, pope says on anniversary of John Paul II's "Gospel of Life."
As Christians we are called to defend life, Pope Francis affirmed March 25, and the “life that we are called to promote and defend is not an abstract concept, but is always manifested in a flesh-and-blood person: a child who’s just been conceived, a marginalized poor person, a discouraged and lonely person who is sick or dying, someone who has lost his job or cannot find work, a rejected and marginalized immigrant. Life is manifested concretely, in people.”
With this, the Holy Father recalled the 25th anniversary of the release of an encyclical from his predecessor, St. John Paul II: Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life.
Francis noted the link between the Annunciation, celebrated today, and the “Gospel of life,” which in our day we are living out in the context of the pandemic that “threatens human life and the world economy.”
The pope said that Coronavirus makes us feel that the opening lines of the encyclical are demanding from us even more:
The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.
The Holy Father continued saying that as with every proclamation of the Gospel, this preaching must be given with testimony.
And I think with gratitude of the silent testimony of so many people who, in different ways, are giving themselves to serve the sick, the elderly, those who are alone, and the most needy. They put the Gospel of life into practice, like Mary, who after the annunciation of the angel, went to help her cousin Elizabeth who needed it.
Everyone is called to “enjoy the plenitude of life,” the pope continued, and since all are entrusted to the “maternal care of the Church,” then every threat against life naturally reverberates in the Church’s heart, within her.
For the Church, the defense of life is not an ideology. It is a reality, a human reality that involves every Christian, precisely as Christians and as humans.
Francis lamented how the attacks against human dignity continue in our day, despite it being the “age of universal human rights.” And he said that new threats and new slaveries are ever increasing, “and laws don’t always protect human life at its weakest and most vulnerable.”
Thus, he said, the message of Evangelium Vitae is more timely than ever. “Beyond the emergencies like the one we are now living, it’s about acting at a cultural and educational level to transmit to future generations an attitude of solidarity, care, and welcome, well aware that a culture of life is not an exclusive patrimony of Christians, but that it belongs to all those who work to build fraternal relationships, recognizing the unique value of every person, even when the person is fragile or suffering.”
Dear brothers and sisters, every human life, unique and unrepeatable, has worth in itself. It has an inestimable value. And we must proclaim this always anew, with courage in our words and in our actions. … With [John Paul II] I reaffirm with renewed conviction the call that he directed to us 25 years ago: Respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!