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November 15, 1991

1. With great satisfaction I bid a cordial welcome to all of you, leaders of the Pro-Life movement in various nations, who have gathered for a congress in Rome sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family. I thank you for your enthusiasm, availability and generosity.

You have a self-sacrificing, giving strength which comes from spiritual values. You have the agility of the person who acts without ideological conditioning or the weight of bureaucracy. The very nature of the cause makes you strong and generous, that is, your service to human life, to every life, even when it is still hidden in the mystery of conception. From these ideals comes the dynamic commitment from which, in various parts of the world, a sincere, systematic, organized response arises, sparing no effort so that the active respect for life may become a reality.

I look with joy and hope to you who feel deep in your heart the demands of love and justice which lead you to respect life, which should be accepted and loved from the very beginning, and always cared for in an atmosphere of genuine human ecology (cf. Centesimus annus n. 38).

2. Please allow me to speak about what I feel are some of the useful aspects of the movements which you direct. In the letter addressed to all the Bishops of the world, I spoke of the "Gospel of Life": "I came so that they might have life and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10); "Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness" (Jn 8:12).

Yes, dear brothers and sisters, throughout the Church and, through her, throughout all humanity, the good news of the value of human life resounds: no person is born by accident; each person is the result of an act of God's creative love and is called, from the moment of conception, to eternal communion with God.

In an age when so many people forget who the person is, whence he comes and where he is going, there is an imperative need to arouse in people an ever greater sense of wonder at and gratitude for the greatness of every human life, even of a person who is infirm. Especially those in places where this fact is obscured by the pressures of secularization are in need of help to reflect on the fact that every life is a priceless resource, because it is a unique, unrepeatable gift from the Lord, the giver of life: "For with you is the fountain of life" (Ps 35(36):10); "I give them eternal life" (Jn 10:28). To a world which, overcome by a technological mentality, tends to lose its sensitivity to the great mystery of the human person, you must repeat this wonderful news of God's love for everyone, which is part of our faith in God the Creator of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen

3. All life, without exception, must be accepted and loved. In the Encyclical Centesimus annus I warned against a culture of death which is in opposition to that love for every human person, risking to obscure a truth that is so central to all belief in God, our Father and Creator.

In the Extraordinary Consistory of the Cardinals which I convoked last April, a unanimous call was raised demanding a universal response to put an end to the most grave phenomenon of the growing attacks and threats against life, which is causing a number of deaths without precedent in human history.

From conception every human being is a person, and it is a distortion of the truth to consider the unborn child, in his innocent greatness, as an aggressor. Unfortunately, today it can be said that attitudes and initiatives exist which are against the acceptance of life which first lead to the moral disorder of contraception and then to the abominable crime of abortion. Such an anti-life mentality, whatever its intentions and concerns, is in itself and of itself inhuman and wrong. It is the primary duty of society and of each of its members - private citizens, public officials and legislators - each according to his or her own responsibility, to create a climate that is receptive to life. There is need for a political policy that is clearly in favor of life and the dignity of woman, God's co-worker in giving the first of life.

When a child is unwanted by his or her parents, structures and modes which welcome life must intervene, even though it is always the parents, those who have constituted the family, who are directly responsible for the newborn child. The family, the "sanctuary of life" must receive effective support so that each child may truly enjoy the right to be born into a normal family consisting of a father, mother, brothers and sisters, in an indispensable, loving atmosphere (cf. Donum vitae II, A, 1).

4. Having been accepted, the child is to be raised, cared for and helped in his integral development so that he can achieve human maturity. In fact, if a person does not learn to love and does not feel loved, he will never learn who he really is; rather, he will become an insoluble mystery to himself.

Therefore, this requires a common involvement of a human ecology, that is, with the help of everyone, to create an environment which is favorable to the person and personal development. This certainly requires the improvement of material conditions but most of all there is an absolute need for the creation of an atmosphere of love for the person in himself and for himself, which instills in each person the joy of living, serving, working and developing friendly relations with all people.

In this regard it is necessary to improve educational methods, mass media, and to clean up the moral environment and other aspects of culture, which today is frequently deaf to the values of the spirit.

The first essential structure capable of doing this is definitely the family: in it a person has his first character-sharing experiences and receives his first, most valuable lessons about truth and goodness, and thus learns to love and be loved.

We must be committed to protecting and promoting the family based on marriage, in which the mutual gift of the man and woman creates a climate of love wherein the child can be born and grow. We are called to promote an environment that is favorable to the family, and therefore, to fatherhood and motherhood; where increasingly favorable conditions are created for the family to develop its own resources: fidelity, fertility, intimacy enriched by openness to others, etc. The family must become the center of every social political policy.

5. Last of all, please allow me to remind you that your greatest strength lies in the quality of your witness to human dignity, the family and life, in mutual collaboration and with respect for legitimate diversity.

Great and powerful are the forces which the culture of death overtly or covertly disposes of today: human selfishness and its result, consumerism; a superficial feminism which fears motherhood; an increasing materialism which is incapable of understanding the superiority of spiritual values; last of all, the pressure of economic interests, which act with merciless cruelty.

In this context I turn to you in the same words which St. Paul addressed to the first Christians of the Roman community: "Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good" (Rom 12:21). Your weapons are those of the Gospel. It contains an unfailing hope, because it rests on the firm foundation of the resurrection of Christ, death's Conqueror.

6. Our Lady is the promoter of life par excellence; in her womb she conceived Life itself (cf. Jn 11:25; 14:6), gave birth to him and received him with great love, even in her poverty in Bethlehem. May she, together with her Son, bless all the mothers of the world, all the families, "sanctuaries of life" and you, your families, your movements, your nations, in which I hope you may be light, salt and leaven.

I impart my Blessing to all of you.

Other Statements of the Pope on Abortion

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