January 31, 1993
Put life at the centre of your concern
There was a festive atmosphere in St Peter's Square as some 2,000 children
from Rome's Catholic Action youth branch gathered for the Angelus on Sunday, 31
January, to conclude their month-long study of peace and the Pope's Peace Day
message. Their representatives greeted the Pope in his study and helped him
release two white doves from the window; the Pope in turn told them how much he
would like to join their movement, but did not see how he could at his age. The
whole atmosphere, however, was a fitting conclusion for the Pope's Angelus
meditation on the themes of leprosy and human life. The Pope spoke in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Throughout the whole world today is World Day of Lepers. Many years have
passed since the prophetic voice of Raoul Follereau denounced the inhuman
neglect accorded the lepers, and during those years increased attention has been
given them and much has been done to cure them. However, it is still scandalous
that a disease such as this one, terrible as it is, continues to claim victims
for the mere reason that they are not given adequate care. How much suffering,
dear brothers and sisters, would be avoided or mitigated if selfishness
decreased and solidarity increased. The purpose of today's commemoration is not
only to appeal for the essential material and spiritual support for those who
are stricken by this terrible disease, but also to arouse public opinion about
the tragic conditions of poverty and injustice in which a large part of humanity
still live. Most of all, it is necessary to overcome indifference, the
true leprosy of the spirit.
It is necessary at all levels to become promoters and builders of an
authentic culture of hope which defends and cares for human life.
2. "Begin with respect for life to renew society", is precisely
the theme of the World Day of Life which will be celebrated next Sunday when I
shall be making a Pastoral Visit to some countries of the beloved African
continent where the sense of nature, life and family is so very strong.
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like the problem of life, so intimately
connected with that of the family, to be placed at the centre of everyone's
concern. As the Italian Bishops so opportunely emphasized in their message for
this event, it is necessary for all people of good will to "unite and involve
the social and civil structures in order to create the conditions for a more
widespread and demanding morality. The first task will be to lay the foundations
of a new family policy".
What is so very surprising, especially in economically advanced countries, is
the ease with which an obvious contradiction is accepted: on the one hand, there
is a praiseworthy increase of interest in the defence of nature and the care of
human life with the help of more advanced technologies; on the other hand, a
large part of public opinion and the legislation of many States do not recognize
the right to life of the newly-conceived human being.
Human life is an indivisible good: it is a miracle to
rediscover with ever renewed wonder; it is a sacred, intangible gift of God,
to be welcomed with gratitude.
3. May Mary, the Virgin Mother of the Word of God made man, help us to
overcome the present misleading ideological opposition regarding this very
decisive theme so that the recognition of the dignity of human life, from
conception to its natural end, may become the common point of departure
for building a word of solidarity and a future of peace.
Teachings of the
Magisterium on Abortion