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To accept and defend life!

On Sunday, 3 February, the Holy Father delivered the following address to about fifteen thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at noon for the recitation of the Angelus.

1. To begin with, allow me to recall the following words of the Constitution Lumen Gentium: "In the person of the bishops, to whom the priests render assistance, the Lord Jesus Christ, supreme high priest, is present in the midst of the faithful. Though seated in the right hand of God the Father, he is not absent from the assembly of his pontiffs: on the contrary indeed, it is above all through their signal service that he preaches the Word of God to all people...and through their wisdom and prudence directs and guides the people of the New Testament on their journey towards eternal beatitude" (n. 21).

I have taken the liberty of recalling today this inspiring and eloquent passage of the conciliar magisterium to bear witness to the faith that guided me and the Bishops and Fathers of the Church in Holland during the Particular Synod, the work of which ended on Thursday last. Faith in the presence of Christ, who always sends the bishops, together with the priests, to prolong the mission of the apostles in the Church and in the world, enlightened and strengthened us in the course of these days. It helped us to look to the various problems, with which the Synod had to deal, in the light of this truth, to which we wish to remain faithful with all our strength.

It too, I mean this faith in the presence of Christ among us, has enabled us, to take decisions in the hope that the grace of the Holy Spirit will touch human hearts and accomplish the work which in union with Christ, we have started together. I desire that, among the many words which, now and subsequently, will be uttered in connection with the recent Synod, this word of faith and hope will not be lacking.

2. The "Day for Life" is being celebrated today all over Italy. Expressing my appreciation for all initiatives aimed at promoting consideration and respect in public opinion for this fundamental value, which is particularly threatened by so many forms of violence today. I wish to raise my voice once more to "preach life", in communion with every man and woman of good will. Where there is life, there is the spirit of God the creator, there is his stamp, there is the sea of his love. Every human being, from the moment of his conception under his mother's heart, bears within him this divine stamp, which makes him a subject capable of opening up responsibly to God and to his brothers.

Let us not forget: when a person's right to life is violated, a blow is struck at the very heart of the moral and juridical order, the purpose of which is protection of man's inviolable goods. The church defends the right to life, not only out of respect for the majesty of God, the first Giver of every life, but also out of respect for the essential good of man.

In the "Day of Life", an order is entrusted to the commitment of every person, concerned with real social good: that of accepting life, defending it, and promoting it. To accept life as a priceless gift, which makes the whole human family richer, bringing it a renewed invitation to hope from God. To defend life, especially the weakest and most helpless, by opposing every attack which aims at humiliating it, oppressing it and destroying it. To promote life, by offering one's generous collaboration for every initiative which facilitates its elevation towards goals more worthy of human beings, called, in Christ, to take part in God's own life.

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