The importance of the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to hold a vigil for all nascent human life and his request to Bishops world wide to do the same is a truly historic event. Pope Benedict in doing this is asking the entire Church and encouraging others to focus on the undeniable value of human life from the moment of conception and he is doing so at very significant time, the beginning of the new church year, the first act of Advent in the lead up to the celebration of Christmas, the annual feast of the Nativity. Pope Benedict has on many occasions reminded us that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever.
As a reminder of the importance Pope Benedict places on the right to life of the unborn the following is an extract from his address to the Bishops of Kenya on the occasion of their ‘Ad Limina’ visit to Rome some years ago:
‘A key focus of unity in a community is the institution of marriage and family life, which the people of Africa hold in particular esteem. The devoted love of Christian married couples is a blessing for your country, expressing sacramentally the indissoluble covenant between Christ and his Church. This precious treasure must be guarded at all costs. All too often, the ills besetting some parts of African society, such as promiscuity, polygamy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, can be directly related to disordered notions of marriage and family life. For this reason it is important to assist parents in teaching their children how to live out a Christian vision of marriage, conceived as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, essentially equal in their humanity and open to the generation of new life.‘While this understanding of Christian family life finds a deep resonance in Africa, it is a matter of great concern that the globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion. This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking such a grave step. When you preach the Gospel of Life, remind your people that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever. This equality “is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice” (Evangelium Vitae, 57). The Catholic community must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends. Likewise, the community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.’
These words, needing only a change of name of location, could equally apply to so many other countries of the world, and it is sad to realise that Kenya – in particular – is one of the latest places to be targeted by UN agencies in an effort to destroy traditional family life and to impose abortion on that country.