25 March 2020
Life

Pope Francis: “Every human life has an inestimable value”

At the general audience, recalling the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” 25 years after its promulgation
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“The message of the encyclical Evangelium vitae is more relevant than ever. Even beyond emergencies such as the one we are all living now, it is about acting on cultural and educational levels for transmitting attitudes of solidarity, care, and welcoming to future generations, knowing full well that the culture of life is not a heritage exclusive to Christians, but rather one which belongs to all those who, striving for the building up of fraternal relationships, recognize the value of each person, even the fragile and the suffering,” Pope Francis reiterated this morning in the audience from the library of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

 

“Twenty-five years ago,” he recalled, “on this same date of 25 March, which in the Church is the solemn feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, St. John Paul II promulgated the encyclical Evangelium vitae, on the value and inviolability of human life.”

 

The Holy Father called the link between the Annunciation and the Gospel of Life “close and profound, as St. John Paul emphasized in his encyclical. Today, we find ourselves reintroducing this teaching in the context of a pandemic that threatens human life and the world economy—a situation which makes the initial words of the encyclical even more demanding. Here they are: ‘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.’” (n. 1)

 

Every human life, “unique and unrepeatable, valuable in and of itself, constitutes an inestimable worth. This,” underscored Pope Francis, “must be announced ever anew, with the courage of words and the courage of action. This calls for solidarity and love for the great human family, and for each one of its members.”

 

The life “that we are called to protect and defend is not an abstract concept, but is always manifested in a flesh and blood person: the newly-conceived child, a poor marginalized person, a sick person suffering from discouragement or a terminal illness, a person who has lost their job and cannot find work, a refugee or ghettoized migrant…life manifests itself concretely in people.”

 

“Each human being,” he added, “is called by God to enjoy the fullness of life. And, being entrusted to the maternal concern of the Church, every threat to the dignity of human life cannot fail to have repercussions in the Church’s heart, in her maternal ‘gut.’”

 

And so, Pope Francis continued, for the Church the defense of life “is not an ideology,” but “a reality, a human reality that involves all Christians, precisely because they are Christian and because they are human.” Furthermore, “the attacks on the dignity and life of persons unfortunately continue even in our own time, the era of universal human rights. Indeed, we find ourselves facing new threats and a new slavery, and the laws do not always protect human life that is weaker and more vulnerable.”

 

In closing, Pope Francis recalled the words of St. John Paul II: “I reiterate with renewed conviction the appeal he made, to all, twenty-five years ago: Respect, defend, love, and serve life, every life, every human life! It is only on this path that you will find justice, development, freedom, peace, and happiness!”