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Vatican Celebrates the Gospel of Life

by | Jul 3, 2013

By Carol Tobias, President, NRLC

NRLC President Carol Tobias and Director of Outreach Ernie Ohlhoff  meet with Cardinal Burke

NRLC President Carol Tobias and Director of Outreach Ernie Ohlhoff meet with Cardinal Burke

June was an incredibly busy month and I am just now finding time to tell you about the wonderful events sponsored by the Vatican, on June 15 and 16, to celebrate Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). I had the honor of representing NRLC at these events in Rome, accompanied by Ernie Ohlhoff, NRLC’s Director of Outreach.

For those who may not know, Evangelium Vitae was an encyclical issued in 1995 by then Pope John Paul II to reaffirm “the value and inviolability of human life.” The papal letter lays out, not just for Roman Catholics but for the world, the biblical, theological, and practical reasons for protecting innocent human life from abortion and euthanasia.

As part of the Catholic Church’s “Year of Faith” with emphasis on new evangelization, the Vatican planned events in several languages to celebrate this wonderful document. The first event for English speakers, on Saturday morning, was an educational conference held at Pontifical Urban University, just blocks from St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Square

Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Square

The keynote address was presented by Raymond Cardinal Burke, former archbishop of St. Louis, now Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Cardinal Burke was followed by Francis Beckwith, Ph.D., a professor of philosophy at Baylor University, and Robert Royal, Ph.D., president of the Faith and Reason Institute.

Conference participants then moved a few blocks to the 12th century basilica, Santo Spirito in Sassia, (Holy Spirit in Saxony), for a Holy Hour for Reparation, Mercy and Healing for Sins Against Human Life, sponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Thousands of pro-lifers participate in a candlelight vigil in Rome

Thousands of pro-lifers participate in a candlelight vigil in Rome

Saturday’s events concluded with an evening Prayer Vigil and candlelight procession. Prayers, along with portions of Evangelium Vitae, were read by speakers in various languages while the thousands in attendance stood, united as one, for Life. The attendees then quietly held candles and processed down Via della Conciliazione, the main street leading from the Tiber River, to St. Peter’s Square.

Sunday morning, the faithful were able to attend mass, celebrated by Pope Francis, in St. Peter’s Square. Translated into English by the Vatican, we were able to read the Pope’s beautiful words of meditation:

The Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God who is life and the source of life; Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and following God’s way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death. (You can read his homily here)

Ernie and I were blessed with seats near the altar and had the opportunity to visit with leaders from pro-life organizations around the world, including The Netherlands, Bulgaria, Malta, and Germany.

Evangelium Vitae is a well thought out, easy to read, ringing defense of innocent human life. Regardless of your religious preferences, you will find knowledge and encouragement in this Gospel of Life.

Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com.

Categories: Religious