By Sarah Mac Donald - 17 July, 2013
In a special message for the Church’s annual Day for Life, Pope Francis has emphasised the need to care for human life from conception to natural end.
This year’s theme is ‘Care for Life – It’s Worth It’. The theme is taken from a homily delivered in 2005 by Pope Francis, when as Cardinal Bergoglio, he preached during a Mass in honour of the protector of pregnant women, St Raymond Nonnatus.
In his message, Pope Francis says that all life has inestimable value “even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”
He pledges to pray that the ‘Day for Life’ will “help ensure that human life always receives the protection that it is due.”
The 2013 Day for Life message focuses on care for unborn children and their mothers; care for people who are elderly and care for those who are suicidal and their families.
One of its key aims is to build an environment of compassion and care that nurtures and sustains life, even in the most challenging of human events and personal circumstances.
Elsewhere in his 2005 homily, the future Pope said, “All of us must care for life, cherish life, with tenderness, warmth … to give life is to open (our) heart, and to care for life is to (give oneself) in tenderness and warmth for others, to have concern in my heart for others.”
He added that caring for life from the beginning to the end was both “a simple thing” and a “beautiful” thing. “So, go forth and don’t be discouraged. Care for life. It’s worth it,” he exhorted.
Calling to mind the teaching of St Irenaeus that the glory of God is seen in a living human being, the Holy Father also encourages the faithful to let the light of that glory shine so brightly that “everyone may come to recognise the inestimable value of all human life.”
The Day for Life is celebrated annually in Ireland on the first Sunday of October which this year falls on Sunday 6 October.
The special day was initiated by Pope John Paul II to encourage the Catholic Church worldwide to promote and celebrate the sacredness of life.
In his 1995 Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), the late Pope John Paul II proposed that “a day for life be celebrated each year in every country.”
The primary purpose of this day should be “to foster in individual consciences, in families, in the Church, and in civil society, recognition of the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition”
Separately, the Government’s Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill passed the second stage in the Seanad on Tuesday by 42 votes to 14. It will now go to committee stage on Wednesday.
Fine Gael Senators Fidelma Healy Eames and Paul Bradford, as expected, voted against the bill and are now expelled from the party.
As well as the two Fine Gael senators and ten Fianna Fail senators who voted against, Independents Rónán Mullen, Feargal Quinn and Mary Ann O Brien also voted against the bill.
Senator Mullen described the legislation as “an affront to human dignity”. He added that it was also an affront to “any normal conception of human rights.”
The Seantor said he could not see how anyone could reconcile the provisions of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill with the constitutional duty to respect the equal right to life of the unborn. “This legislation is an affront to the great medical tradition that cared for two patients up to now,” he said.
By Sarah Mac Donald