.- During Sundayâs weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict told thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peterâs Square that a true âculture of lifeâ must be focused on care for others and defense of the weak--not hedonism and pleasure-seeking self-service.
Prior to the Marian prayer, the Holy Father reflected that the Day for Life, which was just celebrated in Italy "constitutes a precious occasion of prayer and reflection on the themes of the defense and promotion of human life, especially when it is found in conditions of difficulty.â
He pointed out that a number of lay faithful working in the field, âsome committed in the Pro-Life Movement," had gathered in St. Peterâs Square for the occasion.
One of the groups represented yesterday was the Italian Movement for Life organization, which was accompanied by Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
The Holy Father went on to invite all those present to reflect over the Italian bishops' message, which explored the theme "Respect of Life."
"I rememberâ, he said, âour beloved Pope John Paul II, who paid constant attention to these problems.â
In particular, Benedict recalled the encyclical "Evangelium Vitae," which John Paul published in 1995. It represents, the Pope said, âan authentic cornerstone in the Church's teaching on such a current, decisive question. In framing the moral aspects in a broad spiritual and cultural context, my venerated predecessor confirmed on several occasions that human life is of a primary value that must be acknowledged, and that the Gospel calls for it to always be respected."
The Holy Father also made note of his own encyclical, released late last month, and titled, "Deus Caritas Est," or âGod is Love.â It emphasized, he said, the importance of the "service of charity" in supporting the promotion of human life.
"The culture of lifeâ, he said, âis based, in fact, on attention to others, without exclusions or discriminations.
All human life, as such, is worthy of and calls for always being defended and promoted.
Benedict pointed out that âWe know well that this truth runs the risk of being contradicted often by the widespread hedonism in the so-called welfare societies: Life is exalted while it is enjoyable, but there is a tendency to stop respecting it when it is sick or experiences some kind of disability."
"On the contrary,â he said, âfrom profound love for every person, it is possible to apply effective forms of service to life: both nascent as well as that marked by marginalization or suffering, especially in its terminal phase.
The Pope concluded recalling the Virgin Mary, who âreceived with perfect love the Word of life, Jesus Christ, who came into the world so that men âmay have life, and have it abundantlyâ (John 10:10).
âWe commend to herâ, he said, âwomen who are expecting a child, families, health agents and volunteers committed in different ways in the service of life.â