By Susan Gately - 15 June, 2013
The Catholic bishops of Ireland have asked the faithful in parishes all over the country to join Pope Francis this weekend in praying in support of the “Gospel of Life”. Celebrating the encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae, Pope Francis will join in the special event entitled, ‘Believing, May They Have Life’ which begins today. The initiative is part of the Year of Faith.
“It is so important that the Gospel of Life, which defends the principal right, the right to life, is shown as connected with the new evangelisation,” said Fr Eugene Silva one of the organizers behind Evangelium Vitae Day.
The event begins with education conferences according to language groups, studying Pope John Paul II’s encyclical which expresses the position of the Catholic Church regarding the value and inviolability of human life.
Cardinal Burke will give the keynote address to the English language conference.This evening there will be a candlelight procession at 8.30pm Rome time, down the Via del Conciliazione, punctuated by readings from John Paul II’s ‘Evangelium Vitae’ and the sharing of a number of personal testimonies.
The procession will end in a prayer service and vigil at St Peter’s Square. Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, the event is expected to draw tens of thousands of parishes, communities, youth groups, voluntary associations for the sick and disabled and ordinary families.
Referring to the silent candlelit procession, Fr Silva said the silence would be offered “in the memory of the lives lost in the culture of death”.
Tomorrow, Sunday the event will culminate with 10.30am Mass (9.30am Irish time) celebrated by Pope Francis in the Vatican. The event will be televised live by EWTN.
“We want to demonstrate that the Gospel of Lifes the defence of all life from conception until natural death. We want to show the consistent life ethic of the Catholic Church,” said Fr Silva.
Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter ‘Evangelium Vitae’ addressed several issues – including abortion (quoting Tertullian, who called abortion “anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born”), euthanasia (which John Paul II calls “a disturbing perversion of mercy”), and the death penalty. It also addresses social and ecological factors, stressing the importance of a society which is built around the family rather than a wish to improve efficiency, and emphasizing the duty to care for the poor and the sick.
Fr Silva said the issue of abortion was important, and Christians needed to stand up against the “horrors” of abortion, but they also needed to stand for “those who suffer” – the ill, disabled, elderly and those treated with violence. “We need to be people who demonstrate in our words and in our actions and through our prayers, the sanctity of all life.”