Thousands of members of the Italian Movement for Life met with Pope Benedict in the Hall of Blessing on Monday morning. The Pope remarked that 30 years of abortion in Italy "not only has not resolved the problems afflicting many women and no small number of families, but it has opened another wound in our societies.”
The Movement for Life, which is led by Carlo Casini, is currently promoting a number of initiatives on the 30th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Italy.
Benedict XVI noted that protecting human dignity is exceedingly more challenging than 30 years ago. “We cannot but recognize that, in practical terms, defending human life has become more difficult today, because a mentality has been created that progressively devalues human life and entrusts it to the judgment of individuals.”
The consequence of this thinking is a decrease in respect for the human person, “a value that lies at the foundation of any form of civil coexistence, over and above the faith a person may profess," the Pontiff said.
Contrary to the assertions of those who have promoted abortion, it “has not resolved the problems afflicting many women and no small number of families, but it has opened another wound in our societies," said the Holy Father.
The healing of society’s wounds, Benedict indicated, will come from combined efforts to ensure that "institutions once again focus their activities on defense of human life and priority concern for families. ... Families must be helped, using all legislative means to facilitate their formation and their educational work in the difficult social context of today."
"It is necessary to bear concrete witness to the fact that respect for life is the first form of justice that must be applied. For those who have the gift of faith this becomes an imperative that cannot be deferred. ... Only God is the Lord of life. Each human being is known, loved, wanted and guided by Him ... and each has his origins in God's creative plan."
The Pope also underscored that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a fact he pointed to when he addressed the U.N. and called for the recognition that these rights are based on natural law.
The Movement for Life’s involvement "in the political sphere, assisting and encouraging the institutions to ensure that correct recognition is given to the words 'human dignity',” received praise from the Pope for their efforts.
The Holy Father also praised the group’s “initiative in the European Parliament's Commission for Petitions, in which you affirm the fundamental values of the right to life from the moment of conception, of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, of the right of all conceived human beings to be born and educated in a family of parents.”
Benedict XVI concluded by thanking his audience for their service "to the Church and to society. How many human lives have you saved from death! Continue along this path and do not be afraid, so that the smile of life may triumph on the lips of all children and their mothers."