“Let us say “Yes” to life and not death. Let us say “Yes” to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say “Yes” to the God who is love, life and freedom, and who never disappoints.”
These were the words that Pope Francis spoke in his homily to the pilgrims gathered at St Peter’s Square yesterday for the Mass for Evangelium Vitae Day.
Getting to the heart of the attacks on life today, Francis explained
…all too often, people do not choose life, they do not accept the “Gospel of Life” but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others.
He pointed out that many today see the rejection of Christ “will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment”, but ultimately what is found is “new forms of slavery and death”.
The Mass and preceding activities were part of the Church’s Year of Faith. As such, the President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, Archbishop Fisichella addressed Pope Francis explaining that
in the Year of Faith it was important that a moment of reflection and prayer be dedicated to those who are witnesses to Evangelium vitae. Their daily passion clearly shows a commitment to the full promotion of human life and for its defense. From the very beginning in the womb of a woman, until the very last moment when a person speaks of his or her presence in this world, this life is human – even if it develops into an immense array of conditions of weakness, suffering and demands help. Believers in Christ cannot remain indifferent to this.
Pro-life leaders, “united by a commitment that goes beyond the boundaries of nations” attended the celebrations for Evangelium Vitae Day. They came from Italy, the United States, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Malta, Slovakia, Singapore, Hungary, Costa Rica, Japan, Ireland, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia to witness to the sacredness of all human life from conception through to natural death.
Archbishop Fisichella clearly established the duty of all people of good will to stand up for life saying:
Holy Father, in the Year of Faith, the day dedicated to Evangelium vitae is a renewed call for everyone to respect, protect, love and serve human life. It is not a prerogative of us Christians. It is a common path shared with so many men and women who do not have our faith, but who share our proclamation and commitment. Thank you for your support and the strength of your witness testimony. May the Lord indicate to us all, once again, the path of life.
Following the greeting of Priests, pro-life pilgrims and families, Pope Francis spent time speaking with, and blessing the many sick and disabled who attended the Mass. In this day the lives of the sick and disabled, both born and unborn, are threatened by policies and ideologies throughout the world, that see them as burdens on society. Pope Francis consistently shows us how to serve the sick and disabled with compassion, love and dignity.
The Mass for Evangelium Vitae was preceded by a variety of activities including catechisis in various languages, a pilgrimage to the tomb of St Peter, Eucharistic Adoration, the Sacrament of Penance, as well as a candlelight procession and prayer vigil.
“If, at the end of the last century, the Church could not be silent about the injustices of those times, still less can she be silent today, when the social injustices of the past, unfortunately not yet overcome, are being compounded in many regions of the world by still more grievous forms of injustice and oppression, even if these are being presented as elements of progress in view of a new world order.”
~ Blessed John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae #5