Evangelium Vitae Day for English speaking pilgrims began with an inspiring catechesis from Cardinal Raymond Burke, who explained the relationship between the New Evangelization and being actively involved in promoting the dignity of human life in the political sphere. He said that “while the transformation of hearts is the most fundamental means of new evangelization regarding human life, Catholics and all persons of good will must be attentive to all laws, which safeguard the dignity of human life.”
Quoting Blessed John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae, for which the weekend was named after, Cardinal Burke stated “I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person’s natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law.”
He urged Catholic families to be involved in ensuring laws protect life and explained how the Gospel of Life, evangelization and the Year of Faith are all interwoven.
Declaring that “the culture of death advances in good part because of a lack of attention and information among the public,” Cardinal Burke suggested that pilgrims be involved in “developing and supporting truly pro-life and pro-family media, and organizing public manifestations.” Pope Francis supported the recent March for Life in Rome, where he surprised attendees by turning up and publicly supporting the March.
Later on in the day pilgrims were able to attend Eucharistic Adoration and receive the Sacrament of Penance. Archbishop Joseph Augustine Di Noia, spoke passionately on the need for heartfelt confession, explaining that it is not possible to make a good confession on the run. The Holy Hour was for reparation, mercy and healing for sins against human life.
A fitting conclusion to Saturday’s events was a candlelight procession down the Via della Conciliazione, which finished with a prayer vigil in St Peter’s Square.