ANGELUS MESSAGE OF 22 MARCH
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
"No one can have attitudes of approval, however passive, before the reality
"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.
other Papal Writings and Speeches]