Vatican information Services (VIS) have reported on the “Vigil for unborn life”, presided over by the Holy Father and which took place on Saturday last they report
Benedict XVI began his homily by noting that
"with this celebration of Vespers the Lord gives us the grace and joy to begin the new liturgical year", in which "we will feel that the Church takes us by the hand and, in the image of Most Holy Mary, expresses her maternity by enabling us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, Who embraces us all in His salvific and consoling love".
Highlighting the fact that the celebration was being enriched with the solemn prayer vigil for unborn life, the Pope thanked "everyone who has taken up this invitation, and those who specifically dedicate themselves to protecting human life in various situations of fragility, especially at its beginnings and in its first stages".
"The Incarnation reveals to us - with intense light and in a surprising way - that each human life has exalted and incomparable dignity. Man has an unmistakeable originality with respect to all other living things, which inhabit the earth. He is a unique and distinctive being, gifted with intelligence and free will, as well as being composed of material reality. He simultaneously and inseparably lives in the spiritual and the corporeal dimensions".
"God loves us deeply, completely, without distinction", the Pope explained. "He calls us to be His friends. He brings us to share in a reality, which is beyond all imagination, all thoughts or words: His divine life. Moved and grateful, we become aware of the value and incomparable dignity of each human being, and of the great responsibility we have towards others".
Human beings, said the Pope, "have the right not to be treated as objects to be possessed, or things to be manipulated at will; not to be reduced to the status of a mere tool for the benefit of others and their interests. Human beings are a good per se, and it is necessary always to seek their integral development. Love for everyone, if sincere, spontaneously turns into preferential attention for the weakest and poorest. This is the context of the Church's concern for nascent life, which is the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the clouding of conscience. The Church continually repeats Vatican Council II's declarations against abortion and all other violations of unborn life: 'from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care'".
The Holy Father went on: "There are cultural tendencies which seek to anaesthetise people's consciences by using pretexts" Yet, "as concerns the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy and capacity for interaction with the mother, the co-ordination of its biological processes, the continuity of its development, the increasing complexity of the organism. It is not simply an accumulation of biological matter, but a new living being, ... a new individual of the human race. This is how Jesus was in Mary's womb; this is how it is for each one of us in our mother's womb".
Benedict XVI lamented the fact that "even after birth the life of children continues to be exposed to abandonment, to hunger and misery, to sickness, abuse, violence and exploitation. The multiple violations of children's rights committed in the world are a painful wound on the conscience of all men and women of good will. Faced with the sad spectacle of the injustices committed against the life of man, both before and after birth, I reiterate John Paul II's impassioned appeal for responsibility: 'respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!'"
In this context, the Pope also exhorted "political, economic and media leaders to do everything they can to promote a culture that is ever more respectful of human life, in order to create favourable conditions and support-networks that welcome life and ensure its development".
At the end of the celebration of Vespers the Holy Father read a "Prayer for Life" specially composed for this occasion.
which took place last Saturday