By Carol Tobias, President, National Right to Life
In 1995, Pope John Paul II issued a clear and ringing endorsement of the pro-life position in an encyclical that reaffirmed “the value and inviolability of human life.” In Evangelium Vitae, or “The Gospel of Life,” the Pope voiced an urgent call to commitment and action in defense of human life. The 194-page document was addressed first to Catholics, but also to “all people of good will,” stressing its universal call for protection of the unborn and the elderly.
While it is difficult to pull out one section from something this sweeping, this paragraph is good encouragement for pro-lifers who are actively working to protect innocent human life:
“The Gospel of life is for the whole of human society. To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop. A society lacks solid foundations when, on the one hand, it asserts values such as the dignity of the person, justice and peace, but then, on the other hand, radically acts to the contrary by allowing or tolerating a variety of ways in which human life is devalued and violated, especially where it is weak or marginalized. Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.”
As the Roman Catholic Church celebrates this “Year of Faith,” the Vatican is offering pro-lifers from around the world the opportunity to gather “in a communal witness to the sacred value of all life: The lives of the aged, the lives of the sick, the lives of the dying, the lives of the unborn, the lives of the physically and mentally challenged, and the lives of all those who suffer.”
On June 15, pro-lifers will assemble in Rome for a variety of events. An educational conference will begin the day, focusing on Evangelium Vitae, with a keynote by Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, former archbishop of St. Louis. Participants will be able to visit the tomb of the Apostle Peter and the day concludes with a Candle Light Procession and Vigil. The following morning, on Sunday, June 16, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Ernie Ohlhoff, NRLC’s Director of Outreach, and I are honored to be going, to represent National Right to Life at this international gathering.
Registration for the various events is required. For more information, go to: www.annusfidei.va/content/novaevangelizatio/en/eventi/giornataevangeliumvitae.html