Monday, 12 August 2013

Pope Francis issues pro-life/pro-family mission statements for all Catholics

Evangelium Vitae Day, Rome, 17/6/13
In a letter dated 6 August from Pope Francis to Brazilian families marking National Families Week, the Holy Father says:
"In a particular way, faced with the culture of waste, that relativizes the value of human life, parents are called to pass on to their children the understanding that this must always be defended, already in the mother's womb, recognizing in it a gift from God and an assurance of mankind's future, but also in the care shown to the elderly, particularly to grandparents, who are the living memory of a people and the transmitters of life's wisdom."
And last week the text of a pro-life/pro-family message from Pope Francis to the Knights of Columbus was published. The message, sent via a letter from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was sent to greet the Knights during their annual Convention. The Knights of Columbus are a Catholic charitable fraternity. I am a knight of the equivalent fraternity in England, the Knights of St Columba (KSC), which has given decades of wonderful support to SPUC and the pro-life movement generally.

The letter from Cardinal Bertone says (my emphases in bold):
"His Holiness was pleased to learn that this year’s Supreme Convention has drawn its theme — "Be Protectors of God’s Gifts" — from his homily at the Mass inaugurating his papal ministry, which by a happy coincidence fell on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph. As protector of the Holy Family, the humble carpenter of Nazareth is a model of the manly virtues of quiet strength, integrity and fidelity which the Knights of Columbus have sought to preserve, cultivate and pass on to new generations of Catholic men. It was in fact as a protective association that your Order was founded in the late nineteenth century, in response to the need to promote the material and spiritual welfare of working men and their families, the dignity of labor and the demands of social justice, and the advancement of the Church’s mission. In fidelity to this founding vision, the Knights continue to play an outstanding role in helping Catholic men to respond to their vocation to be “protectors of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment” (Homily, 19 March 2013).

Among the first acts of his pontificate, the Holy Father wished to add the name of Saint Joseph to each of the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass. It is his hope that the Knights, in venerating the memory of this great Saint, will beg his intercession for the protection of the many blessings which the Lord has poured out upon them and their families, and work with ever greater commitment for the spread of the Gospel, the conversion of hearts and the renewal of the temporal order in Christ (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem, 7). Conscious of the specific responsibility which the lay faithful have for the Church’s mission, he invites each Knight, and every Council, to bear witness to the authentic nature of marriage and the family, the sanctity and inviolable dignity of human life, and the beauty and truth of human sexuality. In this time of rapid social and cultural changes, the protection of God’s gifts cannot fail to include the affirmation and defense of the great patrimony of moral truths taught by the Gospel and confirmed by right reason, which serve as the bedrock of a just and well-ordered society.

For this reason His Holiness once more expresses his appreciation of the clear public witness offered by the Knights of Columbus in protecting the right and duty of believers to participate responsibly, on the basis of their deepest convictions, in the life of society. In his Encyclical Lumen Fidei, he pointed out that faith, precisely because it embraces God’s truth, sheds light on the authentic meaning and purpose of life, strengthens the bonds uniting individuals and communities, and thus serves as a trustworthy foundation for building a just and humane society (cf. 50-51)."
It is clear, from both the details and the contexts, that these are mission statements, not just for parents or for the Knights of Columbus, but for all the faithful.

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