Pope´s Angelus Address on Pro-life Day

"The Human Embryo ... Possesses His Own Identity"

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II delivered this address to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter´s Square for the midday Angelus today. He gave the address in Italian.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Today, the first Sunday of February, Italy is celebrating Pro-life Day, a propitious occasion to reflect on that fundamental value of man´s life.

The subject proposed by the bishops this year is: "Recognize Life." To recognize means, above all, to rediscover with renewed wonder what reason itself and science do not hesitate to call a "mystery." Life, especially human life, inspires a fundamental question, which the Psalmist expresses so well: "What are humans that you mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?" (Psalm 8:5).

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

2. 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, such as the unborn, the mentally handicapped, and the most seriously or terminally ill.

In particular, in regard to the human embryo, science has now demonstrated that it 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, as the Italian Pro-Life Movement demands with considerable initiative.

3. We entrust to the Most Holy Mother of Christ and of all men the commitment in Italy and the whole world in favor of life, especially wherever it is scorned, marginalized or violated.

May Mary teach us to "recognize life" as a mystery and responsibility, remembering that "the living man is the glory of God" (St. Irenaeus).

[Translation by ZENIT]