Pope Francis said today that the Church’s pro-life message is more relevant than ever as the world faces the coronavirus pandemic.
“The attacks on the dignity and life of people unfortunately continue even in our era … We are faced with new threats and new slavery, and legislation is not always to protect the weakest and most vulnerable human life,” Pope Francis said earlier today.
“The message of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae is therefore more relevant than ever,” the pope said in his livestreamed Wednesday audience.
This year’s Solemnity of the Annunciation marks the 25th anniversary of the encyclical Evangelium Vitae promulgated by St. John Paul II on the value and inviolability of human life.
Pope Francis said that the coronavirus pandemic makes the encyclical’s message on the defence of all human life more urgent.
“Today, we find ourselves relaunching this teaching in the context of a pandemic that threatens human life and the world economy. A situation that makes the words with which the encyclical begins even more demanding,” the pope said.
Pope Francis then quoted the first line of the 1995 encyclical: “The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Welcomed by the Church every day with love, it must be announced with courageous fidelity as good news to men of all ages and cultures.”
Pope Francis said: “The life we are called to promote and defend is not an abstract concept, but always manifests itself in a person in flesh and blood: a newly conceived child, a poor marginalized person, a sick person alone and discouraged or in a terminal state, one who has lost his job or is unable to find it, a rejected or ghettoised migrant.”
The pope explained that the Catholic Church has a particular responsibility to ensure the protection of every individual human life, which in itself is unrepeatable and of inestimable value.
“The defense of life for the Church is not an ideology,” he said. “Every human being is called by God to enjoy the fullness of life; and being entrusted to the maternal concern of the Church, every threat to dignity and human life cannot fail to affect its heart.”
“Beyond emergencies, such as the one we are experiencing, it is a question of acting on a cultural and educational level to transmit to future generations the attitude of solidarity,” he said.
In his televised Wednesday audience delivered from the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis praised the “silent testimony” of many people who are witnesses to this “Gospel of Life” by serving the sick, the elderly, and those who are lonely and poor.
He said that their lives mirror the example given by the Blessed Virgin Mary, who went in haste to help her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation.
“Dear brothers and sisters, every human life, unique and unrepeatable, valid in itself, constitutes an inestimable value. This must always be announced again, with the courage of the word and the courage of actions,” the pope said.
“Therefore, with St. John Paul II, who wrote this encyclical, with him I reaffirm with renewed conviction the appeal he made to all twenty-five years ago: ‘Respect, defend, love and serve life, every life, every human life! Only on this path will you find justice, development, freedom, peace and happiness,’” Pope Francis said.