A Study Guide to Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
A spiritual guide to the Encyclical of Pope John Paul II
By the Clergy & Pastoral Associates of Priests for Life
On the 10th Anniversary of the Encyclical
"This spiritual guide to Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae will be of
great help to all who are looking for ways to implement the spirit of this great
encyclical in their daily lives - respecting, protecting, loving and serving
every human life."
His Eminence Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles
Click here for comments from other bishops.
Order this Spiritual Guide
Full text of the spiritual guide..
Introduction: A Special Encyclical
Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director
The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) is not just another document. It is
literally a celebration. It celebrates Christ, who is personally the Gospel and
the Life. It celebrates humanity, love, and true freedom.
The Church knows how to celebrate; the world has forgotten. The Church knows
how to receive and give life and love. In fact, the very meaning of life is to
give and receive love (see number 81). But the world has become too preoccupied
with usefulness, efficiency, and productivity (number22). The world is too busy
with its frantic flight from all suffering and death (number 64, numbers
66-67). It flees these because it has forgotten what they mean. It sees them
only as things to be avoided and controlled.
Ironically, such forgetfulness envelops the world even more in the very
things it tries to escape. And in the midst of its slavery to death, the world
shouts about freedom, all the while fearing it will be shackled by the one who
brings true freedom, namely, Christ.
The world needs "good news", that is, Evangelium. The document begins, "The
Gospel (Evangelium) 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" (number 1).
Life is joyful, so it is to be proclaimed (number 80-82), celebrated (number
83-86), and served (number 87-89). The message of life is not optional, or added
on to the Gospel, but is at the heart of the Gospel. The Gospel of Life is
simply the Gospel of Christ, for He is Life (see number29). The Church is
inescapably pro-life (number28) precisely because she is feminine. The Church is
the Bride of Christ and Mother of believers -- and, in fact, of all humanity
The earth today is covered with innocent blood, which cries out from the
ground to the God who made it (see number 7-9, Gen. 4:2-16). But thanks be to
God, there is another Blood that cries out to heaven more eloquently (see number
25, cf. Heb.12: 22,24). The cry of the Blood of Christ brings mercy to those who
shed the blood of their brothers and sisters. The shed Blood of Christ teaches
the meaning of love, which is to sacrifice oneself for the good of the other
person. It reverses the dynamic of the culture of death, which sacrifices the
other person for the good of oneself. The Blood of Christ, one drop of which can
purify a billion worlds, gives us strength to carry out the "great campaign on
behalf of life" which is called for by this encyclical (number 95). The pro-life
movement itself, in fact, is a sign of hope and victory (number 26). The
encyclical looks to the day when "death will be no more" (Rev. 21:4 see
number105). That time is coming, and that promise is, in a nutshell, the Gospel
Introduction to the Study Guide - James Pinto, M.Div.
John Paul II’s magnificent tome on the sacredness of human life - Evangelium
Vitae - The Gospel of Life - was released in Rome on the Feast of the
Annunciation, March 25, 1995. The Encyclical was the result of a request by an
Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals that met in 1991 to "address the problem
of threats to human life in our day."
The Cardinals unanimously asked the Holy Father to "reaffirm with the
authority of Peter the value of human life and its inviolability in the light of
present circumstances and attacks today." The Holy Father states his intentions
for the document when he says it is "meant to be a precise and vigorous
reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability and at the same
time a pressing appeal addressed to every person, in the name of God: respect,
protect, love and serve life, every human life!"
This study guide is designed to be used by an individual or group as a
side-by-side companion with the Encyclical itself. Each section of the
Encyclical should be prayerfully read, followed by use of the study guide as a
"springboard" to delve more deeply into the text and to stimulate reflection and
discussion. The study guide has a summary statement for each section of the
Encyclical followed by a series of questions that refer the reader back to
aspects of the Gospel of life found in that particular section. Continual
returning to the text helps emphasize that the Encyclical itself is the primary
source of instruction and the basis for individual and group applications of the
Gospel of Life. An
"Application-Life Step" number assists in implementing the teachings of
the Encyclical for daily living. Space is provided for the writing of answers
and reflections. A
Glossary at the conclusion of the study guide assists the reader in
clarifying some key terms contained in the Encyclical.
It is our hope, that on the tenth anniversary of Evangelium Vitae, this study
guide will further facilitate the original intent of its writing, again, as
stated by the Holy Father: "This present Encyclical… is meant to be a precise
and vigorous reaffirmation of the value of human life and its inviolability and
at the same time a pressing appeal addressed to every person, in the name of
God: respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!"
Summary of the
Introduction to The Gospel of Life
- James Pinto, M.Div.
The Holy Father introduces us to the great theme of the Gospel of Life and
issues a universal call to share this "good news" with "dauntless fidelity." The
origin of the phrase "Gospel of life" is elaborated upon and includes both
divine revelation and natural law in its development. The incomparable worth of
the human person is affirmed and contemporary threats against life are
chronicled. The history of the Encyclical’s development is shared and we join
with the Holy Father in meditating upon and proclaiming the Gospel of Life.
*Prayerfully read each number of the Encyclical and then allow the study
guide questions/applications to assist you with further reflection and
Reflection/Discussion Questions for the Introduction to The Gospel of
1. What is the message of the Gospel of Life and to whom should it be
proclaimed? (See numbers 1-2)
2. What is the relationship between the Gospel of life and the natural law,
which is an "echo in the heart of every human person?" (See number 2)
3. The Pope (in numbers 2-3) lists "threats and crimes against
humanity." Can you make additions to his list?
4. What is the Holy Father’s "urgent appeal" to the "people of life?" (number
How will you personally implement the Holy Father’s "urgent appeal?" List
some of the Life Steps you are or will be taking to "build an authentic
civilization of truth and love."
"My Brother’s Keeper" Summary of
Chapter I - James Pinto,
The Holy Father connects the present day threats against human life with the
roots of violence revealed in the biblical account of the first murder. Cain’s
slaying of his brother Abel gives us great insight into the struggle of the
human heart and the consequences of shedding innocent blood. The questions of
the Lord ring out as clear today as then: "Where is your brother?" and "What
have you done?" The horror of the cry of innocent bloodshed in the ears of The
Almighty, "The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground,"
is brought to bear upon the sins against life in our own time.
The antidote to sin conceived in the heart, and acted upon in deed, is the
"sprinkled blood" fulfilled in Christ. This blood "redeems, purifies, saves and
also clarifies to man that "his vocation consists in the sincere gift of self."
Reflection/Discussion Questions Chapter I
1. Why must freedom be yoked to truth? (See, numbers 19-20)
2. How does the "eclipse of the sense of God" impact man’s relationship with
God, culture, and others? (See numbers 21-27)
3. What are some of the benefits of the "sprinkled blood of Jesus?" (See
4. What are some of the signs in culture and society that point to the
ultimate victory of God’s plan for life?
5. How is the biblical story of Cain and Abel still relevant to the current
battle between the culture of death and the culture of life?
1. The Holy Father states that: "the family is the Sanctuary of life." What
Life Steps are you taking to make your family a "Sanctuary of life?"
2. The Holy Father calls us to be, "unconditionally Pro-life." Pray this
Prayer of Commitment and then list some practical Life Steps that you will take
to be "unconditionally Pro-life." Let us pray Fr. Pavone’s Commitment Prayer:
Prayer of Commitment
Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
2 (continued) My Life Steps to be "unconditionally Pro-life:
The Eternal Gift: Summary of
Chapter II - Dr. Paul Chaim Schenck
In Chapter II (See numbers 29-50), Pope John Paul II emphasizes the
comforting truth that "Life is always a good." (See number 34). Why is this the
case? Because human life "is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his
presence, a trace of his glory." Human life, above all other life, is a
superlative gift of God, to be gratefully received, cherished, protected and
extolled. (See number 39)
The Gospel of Life declares that life is a gift to each and every person.
Bodily life, however, is not an end in itself; rather, it is a beginning of the
journey toward Eternal Life. "The dignity of life is linked not only to its
beginning, to the fact that it comes from God, but also to its final end, to its
destiny of fellowship with God in knowledge and love of him." (See number 38)
The prospect of living eternally with God invests our earthly lives with
intrinsic and transcendent value and dignity. Thus, "the sacredness of life
rises to its inviolability, written from the beginning in man’s heart, in his
conscience" (See number 40). The Holy Father points to the full breadth of the
inviolability of each and every human life, ranging "from caring for the life of
one’s brother… to showing concern for the stranger, even to the point of loving
one’s enemy. (See number 41) Invoking the Second Vatican Council, he calls
special attention to the specific responsibility…for human life as such, which
reaches its highest point in the giving of life through procreation by man and
woman in marriage." (See number 43)
1. The Holy Father establishes that the Gospel of Life "is not merely… about
making changes in society," but states that The Gospel of Life "is concrete and
personal," and consists in the proclaiming of what, or more specifically, whom?
(See number 29, number 1).
2. "The words and deeds of Jesus and…his Church are not meant only for those
who are sick and suffering or…neglected by society. They affect the very meaning
of every person’s life…"(numbers 32-33). Reflect on the seeming paradox of the
uncertainty of life and the affirmation of its value. How does suffering relate
to the sanctity of life?
3. Although man instinctively loves life, this takes on new breadth and depth
in the divine dimensions of this good. How does the eternal dimension of life
enhance the earthly dimension? (numbers 36-39).
4. Reflect on the extent of the statement "The deepest element of God’s
commandment to protect human life is the requirement to show reverence and love
for every person and the life of every person." How do we, as human beings,
citizens, and Christians, show such reverence and love for the unborn, the sick,
the sad, the elderly, the disabled, indeed, everyone?
5. The Holy Father states, "Human life finds itself most vulnerable when it
enters the world and when it…embarks upon eternity." (44) Reflect on the meaning
of marriage, conjugal love, procreation, and family life in respect to beginning
and end of life decisions. (numbers 42-47)
1. Pope John Paul speaks of our following Christ’s example of giving up
his life for others. How can we, as Christ’s people, imitate his sacrifice
within the pro-life movement? In what ways can we give up some aspect of our own
lives in order to save others?
2. Share a testimony of your own, or another’s personal sacrifice that
resulted in the saving of another’s life. In what way does this story encourage
us to continue to labor in the pro-life movement, in spite of hardships?
"Doers of the Word" - Summary of
Chapter III - The Rev. Walter
The All-Holy God, because of His Infinite Love for humankind, commands all,
without exception, to keep His Holy Law if we wish to reach heaven. God's
Commandment is never separated from His Love.
The Holy Father points to three essentials of a truly human civilization,
Life, Law and Love. All three have their origin in God Himself. Thus, God's Law
is a holy Law. He further indicates that both earthly and eternal life are
sacred as only God Himself can give us the means (Grace) by and through which we
can reach heaven and share in His Divine Life: In Deuteronomy 32:39 God says, "I
who bring both death and life." Each life from conception to natural death
therefore must be treasured, cherished and protected by all.
Love is immeasurable, limitless, eternal, selfless and effusive; these
attributes accurately describe God's own infinite love, which is why God, from
His infinite Love, directly and individually creates each human soul in His own
image and likeness.
Life therefore remains always a very precious gift of God and in a special
relationship to God, who is Life's sole end, and who will punish every violation
of His Holy Law or commandment to not kill.
Read carefully numbers 52-62
1. Why is God's Law (commandments) holy?
2. Why is Life sacred, a precious gift of God?
3. Why did God create us, for what purpose? What is the role of LOVE with
God, with Man?
4. What is the solemn Church Teaching on cherishing, preserving each and
every human life? Are there any exceptions? (numbers 56-57).
5. Reflect on what makes abortion a particularly grave evil? Does the Pope
call it murder? Is there a new human life at conception? (numbers 58-59)
How can I challenge the members of my community to treasure, cherish and
protect all innocent human life? ( number 68).
In what ways can I uphold Truth itself as objective and immutable? In what
ways can I speak of its sublime origins? ( numbers 69-71).
How can I be sure that when I vote, I do not cooperate in evil? ( numbers
Proclaiming and Demonstrating the Gospel of Life:
Chapter IV - Rev. Denis G.
After crafting the scriptural, theological and anthropological basis for the
Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II exhorts us to carry the Gospel forth in
various ways. Evangelization is "inextricably linked to preaching, celebration
and the service of charity" as it calls its followers to action "according to
individual charisms and ministry" (number 78).
In number IV (numbers 78-101) the Gospel is to be brought to the public
square "to the heart of every man and woman … to make it penetrate every part of
society" (number 80) just as the Apostles left the upper room on Pentecost and
took to the streets in Jerusalem (Acts 2). The Holy Father now promotes an array
of human response from all walks and professions to encompass what it takes to
respect, defend and promote life. These opportunities are always driven by the
Spirit, the "Lord and giver of Life" (see Nicene Creed) who testifies to
"Jesus…the only Gospel" beyond whom "we have nothing further to say or any other
witness to bear." (numbers 80) For Jesus remains our full hope for the patient
and formidable, yet joyful and rewarding task ahead to defend life. And as such,
"You did it to Me!"
1. Before encouraging various professions to appropriate capacities in the
struggle to defend life, the encyclical gives a fine summary of the
"consequences of this Gospel." Take some time to grasp each phrase, placing in
proper context the relationship of the ideas to one another (specifically number
81, par. 2).
2. "I give you thanks, Lord, that I am fearfully, wonderfully made" (Ps.
139:14). Celebration, prayer, wonder, gratitude and heroism are words the Holy
Father savors and applies to His discussion on human life (numbers 83-86). The
culture of death lacks these. Interrelate a few of these concepts to see how
they enrich your appreciation for what this great gift of Life is all about.
3. Distinguish between the typical political population approach and
addressing the demographic situation while responsibly respecting the dignity of
life (number 91)
4. Take some time to reflect, perhaps alone, on the tenderly reassuring words
addressed to post-abortive women (number 99, last paragraph). Use it as a
meditation and share your stirrings from some of the most striking phrases that
the Pontiff uses here. What does the phrase "you will become promoters of a new
way of looking at human life" mean for you?
5. Some Catholics sometimes see being pro-life as a limiting way of thinking
as if not broad enough to include non-Catholics. On the contrary, in reality,
some of the greatest expressions of true ecumenism spring from the basic common
bond on defending human life. Discuss number 101 to clarify well for yourself
and your group just how non-sectarian, and in fact how all-inclusive is the
issue at hand, "the value at stake… which every human being can grasp by the
light of reason" around the world.
The Encyclical exhorts all to have "the courage to adopt a new lifestyle
consisting in making practical choices" (number 98). What particular practical
choices are you prompted in your own life to change? Perhaps some inspiration
will come from referring to how the Holy Father addresses teachers, catechists,
theologians (number 82); or health care personnel, doctors, pharmacists,
chaplains (number 89); or youth, educators, media (number 98); and the
"celebration…of prayer and worship found in the family’s ... life of love and
self-giving" (number 93), as well as any other promptings of activism or use of
time as a volunteer.
Share a success story you have had in changing hearts, even if it is your
own, in the specific direction of promoting, defending, rescuing, and saving
human life. How do you account for the "success"?
Affirming Life: Summary of
The Conclusion - Rev. Peter J. West
In the conclusion of Evangelium Vitae Pope John Paul II draws our attention
back to the Lord Jesus who is the "Child born for us’. By his death he became
the source of eternal life. The person most closely associated with the Gospel
of Life is the Blessed Virgin Mary. When Mary said yes to the message of the
Archangel Gabriel she became the Mother of the Incarnate Word who rescued human
life from eternal death. She is Mother of Life by whom everyone lives. The
Church sees in Mary "the incomparable model of how life should be welcomed and
The Book of Revelation speaks of a great sign, a woman clothed with the sun
who is with child. This passage symbolizes both Mary and the Church. The
Church, like Mary, bears Christ within herself and offers him to the world. The
Church’s spiritual motherhood is achieved only through pangs of childbirth, the
constant tension that believers face with the forces of evil. When Jesus was
brought to the Temple as an infant the prophet Simeon prophesied that Jesus
would be a sign of contradiction and that a sword of sorrow would pierce Mary’s
heart. The prophecy was fulfilled at Calvary as Mary stood by the cross of her
Son. Mary becomes the Mother of the Church when Jesus says, referring to St.
John the Apostle as a symbol of all believers, "Woman, Behold your Son." Mary is
the New Eve, mother of the living, mother of all believers.
The Dragon stood before the woman waiting to devour the child. The dragon
symbolizes Satan and all the powers of evil opposing Christ and his Church. This
evil was first directed against Mary causing her to have to flee to safety in
Egypt. The child is every person, especially every helpless baby, whose life is
threatened. Christ has united himself in some way with every person by his
taking on our human flesh. He taught, "Whatever you do to the least of my
brethren you do to me." Thus rejection of human life in whatever form is really
a rejection of Christ himself.
We should be hopeful, because eventually the culture of death will be
defeated. Christ is the master of all the events of history. He has power over
life and death. Life and death contend, but Christ by his Resurrection has
conquered to the forces of death. Mary is a sign of hope and comfort for us as
we make our way to heaven where suffering and death shall be no more.
In his final prayer the Pope calls on Mary as the Mother of all the living
entrusting to her the cause of life. Especially calling for protection of the
pre-born babies in danger of abortion, the poor, all victims of violence, and of
the elderly and sick killed out of misguided mercy. He prays that the glory of
God will be made manifest by all believers in Christ and for all people of good
will to build a civilization of truth and love. This is a prayer that all who
value life should pray everyday.
1.Why is the Blessed Virgin Mary so closely linked to the Gospel of Life?
2.Why does the Church see Mary as the New Eve?
3. How does the Church understand the passage in Revelation 12:1 when it
refers to ‘the woman clothed with the sun"?
4. Pope John Paul II says the Church’s spiritual motherhood is only achieved
through the pangs of childbirth. What does this mean in terms of the experience
of the members of the Church as they seek to promote the Gospel of Life?
5. Why does the Pope say that the rejection of human life in any form is
really a rejection of Christ?
In the Pope’s final prayer he prays that all believers will live and
courageously proclaim the Gospel of Life. In what ways can people such as you
proclaim the Gospel of Life?
All people of good must work together to build a civilization of truth and
love. What is a practical application of this prayer in your life?
Helpful Reflections/Essays on Evangelium Vitae, Ten
The Good News of Life!
Commentary by Dr. Alveda King
Pastoral Associate, Priests for Life
As a non-denominational Christian, I find myself challenged by the gauntlet
for life laid forth by the Catholic Church. We as human beings must be pricked
by the sharp sword of truth wielded in the insightful lessons to be learned in
The Gospel of Life. My Lord Jesus Christ says in the Holy Bible, "I am come that
they may have life, and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) My uncle, Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "the Negro cannot win, if he is willing to
sacrifice the lives of his children for personal comfort and safety." Following
the life and example of my Lord Jesus, and having the same DNA as Dr. King, I
constantly find myself asking, how can the dream survive if we murder the
The trauma of abortion hit home for me in the early nineteen-seventies, with
an involuntary abortion by my private physician, and a subsequent tragic and
fatal decision to abort a second child just after Roe v. Wade was handed down.
Little did I know that I was contributing to America’s heinous culture of death.
After all, babes in the wombs, and lives like Terri Schiavo’s are like slaves,
awaiting a verdict for life or death.
Now, half way through the first decade of this new millennium, in the face of
two iniquitous decisions by the United States Supreme Court, the decision not to
stop the starvation of Terri Schiavo by removing her feeding tube, and the
denial of Norma McCorvey’s sincere desire to reverse the Roe v. Wade case, in
light of her understanding of the sanctity of life, after she was duped by her
attorneys to become their pawn in the nefarious cause, I find myself longing for
The Gospel of Life, and seeking solace in God’s word for the days to come.
In Psalm 37 (in the New Living Bible) the Lord instructs:
"Don't worry about the wicked. Don't envy those who do wrong. For like grass,
they soon fade away. Like springtime flowers, they soon wither. Trust in the
LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper."
Psalm 73 teaches about the wicked:
"These fat cats have everything their hearts could ever wish for! They scoff
and speak only evil; in their pride they seek to crush others. They boast
against the very heavens, and their words strut throughout the earth. And so the
people ask: "Is the Most High even aware of what is happening?" Look at these
arrogant people – enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply. Was it
for nothing that I kept my heart pure and kept myself from doing wrong?"
The psalmist quickly remembers God, and writes:
"Then I realized how bitter I had become, how pained I had been by all I had
seen. Yet I still belong to you; you are holding my right hand. You will keep on
guiding me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in
heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth."
Please, as you study the words of this fine work The Gospel of Life, take
heart; be encouraged, for God is truly still on the throne! As Dr. King, Jr.
once said, "There are some difficult days ahead, but we will get there. Just let
your light shine in the darkness, study to show yourself approved. Be ready in
season and out of season with the truth of the love of God, and the Gospel of
Life. We shall overcome!"
Dr. King is a minister of the Gospel of Life, a pastoral associate of
Priests for life, and the daughter of slain Civil Rights leader, Rev. A. D. King
(brother of Dr. ML King). She is a proud and blessed mother, grandmother, author
Evangelium Vitae – A Word of Forgiveness
Kevin and Theresa Burke
In The Gospel of Life (section 99), Pope John Paul II specifically singles
out women who have suffered the agony and pain of an abortion experience.
Speaking for the entire body of Christ and the Catholic Church, his words reveal
a personal message of hope and encouragement: "You are not alone. You have not
Ultimately, once a woman has made a decision to abort, it is a clear
indication that her difficult challenges have resulted in absolute despair.
Afterwards, in the midst of heartbreaking grief and shame, despair is also the
greatest obstacle to recovery and reconciliation. But through our hope in Christ
Jesus, the painful reality of the past need not stain the present or dictate the
In order to heal, we must first know where we are wounded, uncovering all the
places in our hearts where we have experienced hurt, abandonment, rejection,
betrayal and deception. We need to understand how and why we have allowed
ourselves to be manipulated. We examine these things so that we can come to a
fuller understanding of who we are before God, our weaknesses, our strengths,
and our particular temptations. Honesty begins by admitting that we have been
deceived. A child has died; a part of our very self has died; and our spiritual
relationship with God has been deeply damaged.
Jesus tells us with great authority and love, regardless of your past, "Do
not be afraid!" Hope and trust in the mercy of God will gives us the strength
and freedom to step out in faith. Repentance strips away self-contempt and
hatred toward self and others and replaces it with humility, grief and
tenderness. Repentance is an about face from denial and rebellion to truth and
surrender ----from Death to Life.
Love is the ingredient that gives birth to mercy. It is precisely a mother’s
love for her child that causes all the grief and heartache that constitutes post
abortion trauma. It is precisely her love that drives the search for healing and
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreats (www.RachelsVineyard.org),
pave the way for mothers and fathers to journey through the profound reality of
their experience. The process utilizes exercises for grief work and spiritual
mediations, with the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation at key points in
God’s love is incarnational, which means that we will experience the Love of
God the Father through other people. The post abortion healing movement is made
up of people who have offered themselves to be instruments of His compassion.
With the help of others and the eyes of mercy, we are free to explore the truth
and embrace it without denial or distortion, but with eyes that shift gently to
the full spectrum of what is true.
Truth is a person. Jesus Christ is truth. We will embrace the truth by
embracing Christ and His mercy will flood our hearts with grace. What is this
grace? Grace is the very life of God within our soul.
As the power of Jesus is manifest in the healing of so many souls, we see a
rising multitude of persons reconciled to God and their aborted children. They
are truly committed to building a Culture of Life. Only the crucified and Risen
Lord could bring such beautiful fruit out what is a tragic and painful journey.
He shows us so clearly the journey and the hope when he embraced his own cross
that led to the glory of His Resurrection.
It is the prayer of the Church that all those who are burdened by abortion
may begin to find reconciliation and peace. Every member of the Church is called
to make known the great forgiveness of Christ. The Church stands
ready to be an instrument of Jesus’ compassion to assist us in bearing one
another’s burdens. May the words in the Gospel of Life, and our prayers and
actions, be steps on the road to reconciliation.
Evangelium Vitae - A Glossary of Terms from Evangelium
(Terms are listed in the order they first appear in the encyclical, and most
definitions from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.)
1 : secure from violation or profanation
2 : secure from assault or trespass :
1 : incapable of being estimated or computed <storms caused inestimable
2 : too valuable or excellent to be measured or appreciated
The ancient oath of fidelity taken by physicians and health care
The Hippocratic Oath is the result of its author’s discovery of nature’s
inclination towards wholeness and having reflected upon what is essential as
well as what is contrary to assisting the natural inclination and end of health
and wholeness. Not only in terms of what one will or will not do or say to those
coming for healing, but also in terms of one’s dependence on a higher power that
is the source of nature’s inclination towards wholeness. (From Fr. Stephen
From Greek Mythology. Prometheus was a proud and strong Titan who is
chained and tortured by Zeus for stealing fire from heaven and giving it to
1: done, made, or acquired by stealth :
2: acting or doing something clandestinely
The statistical characteristics of human populations (as age or income) used
especially to identify markets
Natural Law: (The Pocket Catholic Dictionary)
1: As coming from God, the natural law is what God has produced in the world
of creation; as coming to human beings, it is what they know (or can know) of
what God has created.
2: It is therefore called natural law because everyone is subject to it from
birth (natio), because it contains only those duties which are derivable from
human nature itself, and because, absolutely speaking, its essentials can be
grasped by the unaided light of human reason.
The confession of faith of the Catholic Church (and most other Christian
1: a sudden, impulsive, and seemingly unmotivated notion or action b : a
sudden usually unpredictable condition, change, or series of changes <the
caprices of the weather>
2 : a disposition to do things impulsively
The Ten Commandments
"To get possession of : obtain by particular care and effort.
To get and make available for promiscuous sexual intercourse."
Eugenics: eu·gen·ics (The Pocket Catholic Dictionary)
An extreme form of eugenics advocates the compulsory breeding of the
select, contraception among the poor, and sterilization and euthanasia for the
unfit. A moderate form promotes the study of how to reduce the number of
mentally and physically handicapped without resorting to coercive measures. The
Catholic Church strongly supports the idea that people have a right to use
suitable, licit means to improve their own physical and mental condition and
that of their children. But the Church condemns eugenicists who, in their narrow
outlook, exalt eugenics as the supreme good and who, therefore, use illicit
means to promote their goal. Eugenics has contributed substantially to the
practice of contraception, sterilization, abortion, and euthanasia.
"Direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of
handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable." (Catechism,
"To reduce the violence of (a disease)."
1: a doctrine that the useful is the good and that the determining
consideration of right conduct should be the usefulness of its consequences
2: As a philosophical idea, it views a person’s usefulness as the measure of
their value. As such, it is incompatible with Catholic Moral Theology and social
Hedonism: he·do·nism -- the doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the
sole or chief good in life
About the Authors
Fr. Frank Pavone is a widely requested speaker who has traveled to every
state and five continents, working with clergy and pro-life groups. He has been
National Director of Priests for Life since 1993, has served in the Vatican's
Pontifical Council for the Family. He is Pastoral Director of Rachel's Vineyard,
and also President of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and a Senior
Advisor to Faith and Action, the only Christian Mission to the US Supreme Court.
Mrs. Janet Morana, serves as Associate Director of Priests for Life and
Co-Founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign. Prior to working full-time
for Priests for Life, she taught in New York City public schools. She appears on
Fr. Frank's television series "Defending Life," and produces the TV series
"Gospel of Life."
Fr. Walter Quinn, OSA, began serving Priests for Life on a full time basis in
mid-1999. He is an Augustinian priest with some 40 years of parish experience,
and is available for speaking engagements.
Fr. Peter West, Priest Associate of Priests for Life and a priest of the
Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, travels the nation inspiring activists, who
always find his message stirring. He has done a lot of youth work as well as
counseling to divert women from abortion.
Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, an Augustinian priest and a former professor at
Villanova University, likewise travels the country as a full time Priest
Associate of Priests for Life. He gives special emphasis to post-abortion
issues, as well as the use of music to communicate the pro-life message. He will
even be available to present classical piano recitals for the pro-life cause.
Mr. James Pinto, Jr. serves as a pastoral associate of Priests for Life. He
served as a priest in the Anglican Tradition for over 20 years and entered into
full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2003. He is recognized
nationally as an advocate for the poor, for racial reconciliation, and for the
right to life.
Dr. Paul Chaim Schenck was raised Jewish, and became a Christian along with
his twin brother Rob. Both became Christian pastors, and Paul served for 21
years as a minister in the Anglican tradition. His pro-life activism brought him
all the way to the Supreme Court in the case Schenck vs. Pro-Choice network,
which was decided in his favor in 1997. In 2004, Paul was received into the
Catholic Church by Fr. Frank Pavone and joined Priests for Life.
Dr. Theresa Burke founded the international Rachel's Vineyard retreat
ministry, bringing healing to those who have had abortions. She recently joined
the Priests for Life staff, and continues to train post-abortion counselors and
priests. She is the author of Forbidden Grief, a key resource for understanding
the harm abortion causes.
Mr. Kevin Burke is executive director of Rachel's Vineyard. As an associate
on the Priests for Life staff, he coordinates this ministry and lends his
expertise in the areas of the impact of abortion on men, as well as other issues
related to marriage, family, and human sexuality.
Dr. Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is a minister
of the Gospel, educator, author, and civil rights activist. She holds that
preserving the lives of the unborn is the most pressing moral issue of the day.
She joined the Priests for Life staff in 2005 as Director of African American
As an Association of the Faithful, recognized and approved under the Canon
Law of the Catholic Church, and working in harmony with the goals of the
Bishops' Pro-Life Committee and the local diocesan respect life offices, Priests
for Life seeks to:
Unite, encourage, and provide ongoing training to priests and deacons who
give a special emphasis to the "life issues", especially abortion and
euthanasia, in their ministries;
Instill a sense of urgency in all clergy to teach about these issues and to
mobilize their people to help stop abortion and euthanasia;
Assist clergy and laity to work together productively for the cause of life;
Provide ongoing training and motivation to the entire pro-life movement.
Provide counseling and healing to all affected by abortion and euthanasia.
All pro-life groups, whether Catholic or Protestant, recognize the benefit of
the leadership of the clergy in the pro-life movement and often yearn for more
of it. The pro-abortion community also sees the key role such leadership plays,
as reflected in former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson's comment to the
clergy, "We would have never gotten away with what we did if you had been
united, purposeful, and strong."
Means to Fulfill our Goals
With the co-operation of bishops and their respect life offices, Priests for
Life provides a bi-monthly newsletter to priests and deacons. It is also
available to the general public. We offer pro-life seminars and retreats to both
clergy and laity. With the permission or their respective ordinaries, the
National Director and his associates travel the country full time to meet with
priests and pro-life groups.
Priests for Life offers a wide range of audio and videotapes and brochures,
and regularly uses the media of television, radio, and the press to spread the
message of life.
Our Educational Resources
Priests for Life has been providing pastoral and educational material to
clergy and laity of all denominations for over a decade. This material includes
additional commentaries on Evangelium Vitae in audio and written form, Church
documents, analysis of the pro-life movement and its strategies, insights into
the thinking of the pro-abortion movement, homily suggestions, bulletin inserts,
prayer resources (including General Intercessions for Mass based on the readings
of each Sunday of the year), entire retreats on audio tape and CD, and numerous
television series available on video and DVD.
In particular, our "Resources for Clergy" packet is useful for pastors,
priests, and deacons across denominational lines.
A full catalog of our products can be seen at
Funding comes solely through tax-deductible donations, and supporters can
contribute online at