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April 18, 1996

Proclaim the Gospel by word and deed

"The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as 'good news' to the people of every age and culture". With these words from his Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, the Holy Father urged the director and staff of Radio Maria, a Polish Catholic radio station, to continue their efforts to promote respect for life in civil society. He spoke to them during an audience on Thursday, 18 April, in St Peter's Square. Here is a translation of his address, which was given in Polish.

1. This is now the third time that Radio Maria listeners have come on pilgrimage to the Eternal City, to the tombs of the Apostles, to meet the Pope. I cordially greet you. I extend my welcome to Archbishop Marian Przykucki, who is here on behalf of the Polish Episcopal Conference. I also greet the director and his assistants. I thank you for this meeting, which has become a tradition, and for coming in such great numbers. I especially thank you for your continuous spiritual union expressed through your prayers, by which you effectively help the Pope in his service to the Church. May God reward you! Not all the listeners of Radio Maria can be present at today's audience; give them my thanks and my greetings; convey these also to your loved ones, to your families, especially the sick, the suffering and the elderly.

Attacks on human life must be opposed

2. On 29 March last year, during a meeting that took place here in St Peter's Square, I said that Radio Maria's task is evangelization. Radio Maria has been carrying this out with great commitment from the very beginning of its activity. This is done through catechesis, religious conversations and especially by praying with the listeners. In this way the Gospel message that sets us free reaches many human hearts, encouraging and comforting them. This year too I wish to make the theme of evangelization the subject of our reflection. In the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente I wrote: "There is ... an urgent need ... on the occasion of the Great Jubilee ... to illustrate and explain more fully the truth that Christ is the one Mediator between God and man and the sole Redeemer of the world.... 'Ecce natus est nobis Salvator mundi': in the Year 2000 the proclamation of this truth should resound with renewed power" (n. 38). What is meant here is to proclaim the person of Jesus Christ, because he is the source, foundation and centre of the whole Gospel message. St Paul expressed it very forcefully, when he stated that he wanted "to know nothing ... except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). We too must proclaim and witness to this Christ in all his fullness, this ever-living, ever-present Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life. On him we must build the future of our families and of the whole nation.

3. My dear friends, this year was the first anniversary of the publication of my Encyclical Evangelium vitae. Today I would like to remind you of this. Indeed: "The Gospel of Life is at the heart of Jesus' message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as 'good news' to the people of every age and culture" (n. 1). Human life possesses a sacred and inviolable character; therefore the task of every man, and especially of every Christian, is the defence of life, of every life, and especially of the unborn child in its mother's womb. Every attack against this life must therefore meet with firm and clear opposition from everyone, and especially from believers, the sons and daughters of the Church. The common good cannot be built up without recognizing and safeguarding the right to life; this right is the pillar on which every civil society stands (cf. ibid., n. 101). Thus with great respect I wish to applaud the efforts of all people of goodwill in our country who say a firm "yes" to life. I am thinking here of individuals, ecclesiastical and lay institutes or organizations which serve life and proclaim its sacredness and inviolability.

In the Encyclical just mentioned I wrote that the Gospel of life is "an integral part of that Gospel which is Jesus Christ himself. We are at the service of this Gospel, sustained by the awareness that we have received it as a gift and are sent to preach it to all humanity, 'to the ends of the earth' (Acts 1:8). With humility and gratitude we know that we are the people of life and for life, and this is how we present ourselves to everyone" (ibid., n. 78). We are the people of life and we must act in accordance with this vocation. We must be in solidarity with life, in solidarity with expectant mothers, with families in need of moral assistance, advice or material help. Let us treat the defence of human life as an essential part of our mission. "Everyone has an obligation to be at the service of life" (ibid., n. 79).

Proclaim Christ over the air waves

We need strength for this service to the Gospel of life. We must draw it from him who came "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10). Let us develop the divine life of faith, hope and love, which is the life of Christ within us. It is the most precious gift that Jesus gives us - that we might have life not just on a human scale, but on the scale of the Son in whom the Father is eternally pleased. Let us love this life of God in us and let us guard it, because from it love for every human life is born.

4. My dear friends, I entrust you with these reflections during the Easter season, which reminds us especially of life and its victory over death. Reflect on these truths together and share them with your families and wherever you live and work.

I hope that Radio Maria will courageously proclaim the Gospel by word and deed so that the message of Christ, of life and truth, of love and solidarity, will be broadcast over the air. At the same time I express my thanks for its manifold and generous commitment to the apostolate of the word, which is so important in these times and for which our country has so much need. May this work of evangelization, which is so great and responsible, always be carried out in a spirit of ecclesial communion, together with the Bishops. Only from unity come success and good results, and thus will the task ahead be suitably fulfilled. May the Mother of God's Son and our Mother accompany you with her protection on this journey.

With my Apostolic Blessing.

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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