The Gospel of Life
Public officials and private citizens alike are called to witness to life, each in his or her own way. In Evangelium Vitae, John Paul II distinguishes some of the ways in which citizens and leaders may further the Gospel of Life.
If charity is to be realistic and effective, it demands that the Gospel of Life be implemented also by means of certain forms of social activity and commitment in the political field, as a way of defending and promoting the value of life in our ever more complex and pluralistic societies. Individuals, families, groups, and associations, albeit for different reasons and in different ways, all have a responsibility for shaping society and developing cultural, economic, political, and legislative projects which, with respect for all and in keeping with democratic principles, will contribute to the building of a society in which the dignity of each person is recognized and protected and the lives of all are defended and enhanced.
This task is the particular responsibility of civic leaders. Called to serve the people and the common good, they have a duty to make courageous choices in support of life, especially through legislative measures. In a democratic system, where laws and decisions are made on the basis of the consensus of many, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals invested with authority may be weakened. But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls upon the person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience, and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good. Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law. For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society. (90. 2–3)