Thursday 12 May 2011

Let's listen to the Pope and bishops speaking with the courage of St Peter at Pentecost

In recent days Pope Benedict has given a number of addresses in which he proclaimed the Gospel of Life:

Today in an address to a Jewish delegation, the Pope said:
"[O]ne of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being".
On 7 May he addressed the citizens of Aquileia:
"[You have the mission of] witnessing to the love of God for humanity, above all, through acts of love and life choices made in favor of actual persons, beginning with the most vulnerable, fragile, and defenseless ... such as the poor, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled.
From faith lived courageously arises, today as in the past, a fertile culture of love for life, from its conception to its natural end, for the promotion of human dignity, for the exaltation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and openness to life, and for a commitment to justice and solidarity".
Also on 7 May, in a message to Italian Catholic Action, the Pope listed first "the defense of life" as one of "the most pressing problems of the everyday life of the family".

Also this week, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-hun, who heads the Korean bishops' bioethics commission, said in a message for the country's first annual Sunday for Life that:
"[Abortion is] even worse than ordinary murder because it is committed by the parents of the victim and the medical staff that is supposed to protect life. It is a brutal crime against a defenceless human being and must be condemned without question ... [P]eople have become completely insensitive to the idea of moral judgement. People no longer care, and thus prepare the ground for other crimes. A rampant culture of death is spreading around the world, especially in Korea, and it must be stopped.”
Bishop Gabriel's teaching on the moral gravity of abortion reflects the strong yet compassionate teaching of the late Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae:
"The moral gravity of procured abortion is apparent in all its truth if we recognize that we are dealing with murder and, in particular, when we consider the specific elements involved. The one eliminated is a human being at the very beginning of life. No one more absolutely innocent could be imagined. In no way could this human being ever be considered an aggressor, much less an unjust aggressor! He or she is weak, defenceless, even to the point of lacking that minimal form of defence consisting in the poignant power of a newborn baby's cries and tears. The unborn child is totally entrusted to the protection and care of the woman carrying him or her in the womb. And yet sometimes it is precisely the mother herself who makes the decision and asks for the child to be eliminated, and who then goes about having it done.

It is true that the decision to have an abortion is often tragic and painful for the mother, insofar as the decision to rid herself of the fruit of conception is not made for purely selfish reasons or out of convenience, but out of a desire to protect certain important values such as her own health or a decent standard of living for the other members of the family. Sometimes it is feared that the child to be born would live in such conditions that it would be better if the birth did not take place. Nevertheless, these reasons and others like them, however serious and tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being." [para.58]
Pope Benedict and bishops such as Bishop Gabriel are speaking with the same courage shown by St Peter at Pentecost, who did not shrink from telling the men of Jerusalem:
"Do penance ... Save yourselves from this perverse generation."
And what was the result of this plain, strong talking?:
"[T]here were added in that day about three thousand souls ... [T]he Lord increased daily together such as should be saved."
So we must hope and pray that soon bishops will speak out boldly for life and family, not just in Rome and Korea, but in England and Wales too.

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