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Weekly Reflection

Pope John Paul II about Life

Pope John Paul II exhorted the youth on the dangers of the "culture of death" which struggles against life:

"Death battles against life: A 'culture of death' seeks to impose itself on our desire to live and live to the full. There are those who reject the light of life, preferring 'the fruitless works of darkness' (Eph. 5:11). Their harvest is injustice, discrimination, exploitation, deceit, violence. In every age, a measure of their apparent success is the death of the innocents. In our own century, as at no other time in history, the 'culture of death' has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, 'final solutions,' 'ethnic cleansings' and the massive 'taking of lives of human beings even before they are born or before they reach the natural point of death' (cf. Dominum et Vivificatem 57)."

 Blessed John Paul's message to the youth to feel the "urgency of the task" in opposing the culture of death speaks to us all,

"At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of life has been put into your hands. And the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation. Like the great apostle Paul, you too must feel the full urgency of the task: "Woe to me if I do not evangelize" (1 Cor. 9:16). Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life."

According to his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life):

"Finally, one cannot overlook the network of complicity which reaches out to include international institutions, foundations and associations which systematically campaign for the legalization and spread of abortion in the world. In this sense abortion goes beyond the responsibility of individuals and beyond the harm done to them, and takes on a distinctly social dimension. It is a most serious wound inflicted on society and its culture by the very people who ought to be society's promoters and defenders. As I wrote in my Letter to Families, 'we are facing an immense threat to life: not only to the life of individuals but also to that of civilization itself'. We are facing what can be called a 'structure of sin' which opposes human life not yet born."

Evangelium Vitae specifically speaks to pro-life lawmakers who struggle in countries with legalized abortion as they attempt to enact restrictions on abortion, often through incremental actions. Soon-to-be Saint John Paul II addresses the passage of such laws:

73) "A particular problem of conscience can arise in cases where a legislative vote would be decisive for the passage of a more restrictive law, aimed at limiting the number of authorized abortions, in place of a more permissive law already passed or ready to be voted on. Such cases are not infrequent. It is a fact that while in some parts of the world there continue to be campaigns to introduce laws favouring abortion, often supported by powerful international organizations, in other nations-particularly those which have already experienced the bitter fruits of such permissive legislation-there are growing signs of a rethinking in this matter. In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects."

From the beginning of his papacy, Pope John Paul II instructed the world to "have no fear". Saint John Paul II will help us to "have no fear" as we defend life from womb to tomb and work to advance a culture of life through law and policy. Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

From Catholic News Agency