Every human life is sacred

"Life, one's own and that of others cannot be disposed of at will:

it belongs to the Author of life. Love inspires the culture of

life, while selfishness inspires the culture of death", the Holy

Father said before praying the Angelus on Sunday, February 2,

1997, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, as well as the

first World Day for Consecrated Life and, in Italy, Pro-Life Day.

Here is a translation of the Pope's reflection, which was given in



Dear Brothers and Sisters

1. Today, the feast of Candlemas, we recall the presentation of

Jesus in the temple. Forty days after his birth, Mary and Joseph

went to Jerusalem to offer him to the Lord as prescribed by the

law of Moses. This is an episode that fits within the perspective

of the People of Israel's special consecration to God. But it also

has a broader meaning: it recalls the <gratitude> we owe the

Creator for every human life.

<Life is a great gift of God>, to be always welcomed with

thanksgiving. If last Sunday I was concerned about the absence of

values that threatens our society, today I would like forcefully

to recall one of these <basic values> which must be absolutely

recovered if we do not want to fall headlong into the abyss. I am

referring to <the sacred value> of life, <of every human life>,

from its origin in the mother's womb to its natural end.

I say this, recalling that in Italy today <Pro-Life Day> is being

celebrated, a favourable opportunity for vigorously affirming that

life, one's own and that of others, cannot be disposed of at will:

it belongs to the Author of life. Love inspires the culture of

life, while selfishness inspires the culture of death. Choose

life, says the Lord, that you and your descendants may live! (cf.

Dt 30:19).

2. In the temple of Jerusalem, according to the Gospel account,

Simeon, an elderly man of God, takes Jesus in his arms and

recognizes that in him salvation has come for Israel and for all

peoples: <the Light of the Gentiles> (cf. Lk 2:30:31).

The words of the holy old man express the longing that pervades

human history. They express that <waiting for God>, that universal

desire, unconscious perhaps, but ineffaceable, that he would come

to meet us so that we might be able to share in his life. Simeon

embodies the image of humanity striving to grasp that ray of light

which renews all things, the seed of life that transforms all old

age into everlasting youth.

3. In this context, the <Day for Consecrated Life> that we are

celebrating today for the first time takes on a special

significance. For some time the feast of the Presentation of Jesus

in the Temple has brought together in diocesan communities the

members of institutes of consecrated life and societies of

apostolic life, to show God's People the joy of unreserved

commitment to the Lord and his kingdom. I wanted this experience

to be extended to the whole Church, to give thanks to God for the

great gift of consecrated life and to encourage ever greater

gratitude and esteem for it. We are also spurred by the recently

celebrated Synod of Bishops on the consecrated life, whose results

are contained in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation <Vita


As I invite you to pray, dear friends, for our brothers and

sisters who offer their witness to the poor, chaste and obedient

Christ, my thoughts turn in a particular way to all those who have

enriched their service to the Church with the sacrifice of their

lives. I have just heard the news of the tragic death of Fr Guy

Pinard, a Missionary of Africa, who was cruelly killed this

morning as he celebrated Mass at his parish church in Ruhengeri,

Rwanda. Let us pray to the Blessed Virgin for him, for his loved

ones and for his people, that they may once again find peace in

the respect for life.

After praying the Angelus the Holy Father said:

Today the Diocese of Rome joins the <Week of the Family> with Pro-

Life Day.

Truly, married life, lived according to God's plan, is itself a

"gospel" which the world needs, just as it needs the witness

offered by consecrated life. May all families, and in particular

those in Rome be leaders on the missionary journey of preparation

for the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

I also express my deep satisfaction with the symposium on the

theme, "<The Genome and Aging: The Mystery of Man>", which was

held in Rome these past few days. I hope that this

interdisciplinary study will help to promote the dignity and

rights of human life.


Taken from the February 5, 1997 issue of "L'Osservatore Romano".

Editorial and Management Offices, Via del pellegrino, 00120,

Vatican City, Europe, Telephone 39/6/698.99.390.


The Work of God Apostolate