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Let us defend life!

In his weekly Angelus message on Sunday, 22 March 1981, the Holy Father called attention to the recent message of the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference concerning the sanctity of life. Expressing the pastoral concern of the Italian Episcopate, the Pope spoke as follows:

1. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev 3:20).

These words of the Book of Revelation return in the Lenten liturgy and call up before the eyes of our soul the image of Christ, who, particularly in this season, knocks at the hearts and the consciences of human persons.

He knocks that the door may be opened and that the conversation with him, that dialogue of salvation of which Paul VI spoke in his first Encyclical, may be started. Yes, Christ wishes to speak to every man of our time just as he spoke to Nicodemus or to the Samaritan woman, to the young man he met, and to Magdalen: Christ, the most magnificent Interlocutor, who touches the deepest and most difficult problems, and always in full truth and in complete love of man.

Yes, Christ wishes to speak to every man. He speaks to him incessantly; he speaks to environments, families, whole nations; he speaks continually to the whole of mankind; he speaks of the fundamental problems, the most important problems, on which man's dignity on earth and his eternal salvation depend.

Behold, he stands at the door and knocks!

In the course of this week the Permanent Council of the Italian Episcopal Conference, meeting in Rome, addressed a message to the faithful, in which it calls on them to consider, in the light of the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, their responsibilities with regard to the image of God, present in every human creature from the first moment of his conception. The Italian bishops recall the commitment of tirelessly evangelizing life with the power of the word and with works of justice, enlightening and forming consciences, and supporting every opportune undertaking for an adequate assistance for motherhood. The effort to inscribe the divine law in the life of the earthly city so that "the value of motherhood and full protection of human life right from the mother's womb" may be guaranteed beyond all ambiguity, takes its place in this context.

Here are some sentences from this message, prepared during the meetings of the Permanent Council, sent to other members of the Italian Episcopal Conference, and communicated to everyone:

"It is the special task of the Church and of our episcopal ministry to reaffirm above all that procured abortion is death, it is the killing of an innocent creature".

"No one can have attitudes of approval, however passive, before the reality of abortion".

"In the mentality and structures of the society to which we belong, we have the duty to promote a logic of life and we have the right that this determination be duly recognized".

It is a message dictated by the sense of pastoral, but also human and civic, responsibility. Christ, who stands at the door of human consciences and knocks, speaks through those who are the successors of the Apostles and servants of the salvation of every man.

I make my own their pastoral solicitude for every man and for the whole of society. And I share this solicitude with my brothers in the Episcopate. It is our common solicitude.

The bishops write further:

"For this reason they (Christians) appeal to God with prayer, penance, and reparation: individually and as a community. The light to see, the courage to resist, the strength to bear witness comes only from God."

Yes, it is so. May the prayers of the whole Church, particularly in the Easter season which makes us aware of every man and of the struggle of life with death, obtain light for all consciences so that a sense of responsibility may mature in them for every human life conceived under the mother's heart, in order that life may overcome death.

[Return to other Papal Writings and Speeches]

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