Church to Mark 18 Years Since Evangelium Vitae With 'Weekend for Life'

1995 Encyclical Said to Have Clarified a Lot of Confusion

Rome, (Zenit.org) Ann Schneible | 1177 hits

People from around the world are invited to reflect on the Gospel of Life with a two-day gathering in Rome, which Pope Francis has described as "a special moment for those who take seriously the defense of the sacredness of human life."

"The Celebration of Evangelium Vitae: Faithful to Life," will center on
John Paul II's 1995 encyclical on the Gospel of Life, and its
reflections on the intrinsic dignity of human life from conception until
natural death. The gathering, which will take place from June 15-16, is
being organized as a pilgrimage that will include a day of conferences in
various languages, and the opportunity to make a profession of faith at the
tomb of Saint Peter.

An initiative of the Year of Faith, the event is being organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, and Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV).

This upcoming "weekend for life," said Fr. Scott Borgman, coordinating
secretary for the PAV, is to "give Catholics an opportunity to publically
express our love for life, the gift of life which God gives us, and to be
able to also take a step positively toward the New Evangelization," of
which the promotion of life is a part.

At the time of its release 18 years ago, Fr. Borgman told ZENIT, Evangelium
Vitae "clarified a lot of confusion that was going on, even in the
scientific world, about what was permitted, what was ethical, what was not
ethical, etc." Upon reading the encyclical, he said, it becomes "readily
understandable why the Church takes the position it takes to protect every
human life as sacred."

It is "an incredibly beautiful testament to life," he continued, and "the
depth of this document will continue to be clarified for future generations. "

Overcoming obstacles in promoting the Culture of Life

Among the key challenges against life today, said Fr. Borgman, are the
attempts to promote euthanasia. With euthanasia, he said, "you have the ethical questions of people who are at the end of their life, who are afraid of disability, and who are
wondering whether taking their life early before they become disabled is
the better way out."

The "disability" that comes with age, he said, calls to mind the meaning of suffering. "Coming into the end of our lives, we've been strong our whole lives, we've been self-sufficient, and suddenly we're disabled. Suddenly we're confronted with our own mortality."

"Only the Catholic Church has the answer to suffering," Fr. Borgman
continued. From a spiritual perspective, this suffering is found in the
Cross. "God did not come to take away our suffering, but He came to fill it
with His presence as a moment of encounter… Then you have the scientific
aspect of researching, and finding what God meant for us when He gave us
science."

However, one of the greatest challenges faced by any generation, Fr.
Borgman said, is that of ignorance. Therefore, he says, by "coming back to
the essentials once again of the importance of life, the importance of
science, and the importance of our faith -- because faith and science never
contradict each other -- we can readily bring science and faith together in
order to educate people to the importance of life."