Reject abortion, euthanasia, defend family against societal challenges, Benedict urges
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) – Reject abortion and euthanasia and all attempts to dispose of life under the guise of human mercy, said Pope Benedict XVI.
In a Feb. 4 remarks delivered before praying the Angelus in the midst of a reported crowd of about 30,000 pilgrims and tourists, the pope spoke out for the sanctity of human life “from conception to natural death” and in defense of the family and traditional marriage.
Pope Benedict’s comments were made on the Italian Catholic Church’s observance of Day of Life and beginning of the Week of Life and Family.
He called on all gathered at St. Peter’s Square and to all the faithful “to witness to their commitment in favor of life, from conception to natural death” and “to receive the great and mysterious gift of life.”
The pope linked threats to the unborn through abortion and to those who are mentally and physically handicapped facing premature termination of life through euthanasia.
“Life, which is the work of God, must not be denied to any one, not even the smallest and defenseless newborn, and much less so when he has serious handicaps,” Pope Benedict said.
“I urge you not to fall into the deception of thinking that one can dispose of life to the point of legitimizing its interruption with euthanasia, masking it perhaps with a veil of human mercy,” he said, only days after Italian doctor Mario Riccio who disconnected life support of a paralyzed man, Piergiorgio Welby, was cleared of any wrongdoing by a medical panel.
He tied his message on life from womb to tomb to role of the family as “the cradle of life and of every vocation.”
“The family, based on marriage, constitutes the natural environment for the birth and education of children and, therefore, to ensure the future of the whole of humanity,” he said.
The pope pointed to the “profound crisis” and “numerous challenges faced by the family, as a debate rages in Italy in anticipation of the government considering legislation later this month to grant legal status to same-sex couples.
He called it “the duty of spouses … of the church and of all public institutions” to support the institution of the family in such ways that “take into account the real needs of spouses, of the elderly and of the new generations.”
“It is necessary to defend, protect and value it in its unique and irreplaceable character,” Benedict said of the family.
The pope offered a prayer that “our communities may become places of communion and hope, in which is renewed, despite the many difficulties, the great ‘yes’ of authentic love to the reality of the human being and of the family, according to the original plan of God.”
“Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, that respect will grow for the sacred character of life, that there will be ever greater awareness of genuine family needs, and that the number will increase of those who contribute to bring about in the world the civilization of love,” he prayed.