When Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, proposed that a special Day for Life should be held throughout the world he said that he wanted this Day for Life to be celebrated ‘each year in every country, as already established by some Episcopal Conferences. The celebration of this Day should be planned and carried out with the active participation of all sectors of the local Church. Its primary purpose should be to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church and in civil society a recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. Particular attention should be drawn to the seriousness of abortion and euthanasia, without neglecting other aspects of life which from time to time deserve to be given careful consideration, as occasion and circumstances demand. …’
It is very encouraging, therefore, to read the message of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference for the 2011 Day for Life, which this year takes place on Sunday, 2 October.
In their Day for Life message, the Bishops quote Pope Benedict XVI –
‘ …. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.’Continuing, the Bishops tell us:‘As a Christian, the deepest joy in life does not come from what I have or what I can achieve. It comes from the knowledge that even before I was formed in my mother’s womb I was known and loved by my Creator (Jer 1:5; Psalm 139): that from the first moment of conception to natural death I am loved personally by God and have an eternal future. … Building a culture of life also commits us to building a civilisation of love: it involves showing practical solidarity and concern for those around us who are in need. A society that protects those who are vulnerable and weak contributes to our shared happiness: a society that shows love and concern for others who are in need enhances our quality of life. … In one of the most powerful affirmations of the sacredness of life in the womb, [St.] Luke tells us that as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child in her womb “leaped for joy” (Lk 1:44). … By embracing a culture of life, and standing with those marginalized and deemed “useless” or a “burden” on society, we can turn the values of our consumer society upside down. We can contribute to the happiness and quality of life of all by ensuring respect for the life of every person, from conception to natural death. … Day for Life 2011 is a call for us to work for a society in which all are valued as created, loved by God, redeemed by Christ; not for their fame, or power or what they own but for their intrinsic worth. …’The Bishops also quote from Pope Benedict’s Encyclical Caritas in Veritate: ‘Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. … The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help.’[Emphasis added]
It is good to hear the Bishops talk about the vital importance of respect for human life at every stage, from the moment of conception to natural death.
But why, oh why, is this message not being announced from the pulpit of every church in Ireland? Why is this message not being handed out personally to everybody as they are coming out of the church, particularly after Mass