Pope Calls for Legal Recognition of Human Embryo

Marks Pro-life Day in Italy

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II today called for the legal recognition of the human embryo as well as respect for the rights of every individual unable to defend himself.



The Pontiff emphasized that "science has now demonstrated" that the embryo "is a human individual who possesses his own identity from conception. Therefore, it is logical to exact that this identity be legally recognized, above all in its fundamental right to life."

The Holy Father´s comments came before he recited the Angelus with several thousand faithful and pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square. Among those on hand were members of the Italian Pro-Life Movement.

Italian Catholics were celebrating Pro-Life Day, which had the motto "Recognize Life."

John Paul II said that "to recognize" means "to guarantee to every human being the right to develop according to his own potential, ensuring his inviolability from conception until natural death."

"No one is master of life; no one has the right to manipulate, oppress or even take life, neither that of others or his own," the Bishop of Rome added.

"Much less can he do so in the name of God, who is the only Lord and the most sincere lover of life," he continued. "The martyrs themselves do not take their life, but they accept being killed in order to remain faithful to God and to his commandments."

To "recognize the value of life implies consistent measures from the legal point of view, especially the protection of human beings who are unable to defend themselves," the Holy Father continued.

Among the vulnerable, John Paul II mentioned "the unborn, the mentally handicapped, and the most seriously or terminally ill."

The Holy Father received a warm applause when he imparted a special blessing to expectant mothers in the crowd.