Pope: Persevere in Fight for Life

VATICAN CITY—War is not inevitable, and neither are legalized abortion and euthanasia, Pope John Paul II said.

Catholics must never accept defeat in the struggle to protect life from the moment of conception to natural death, the Pope said Feb. 14 at a Vatican conference marking the fifth anniversary of his encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).

Pope John Paul told participants the encyclical is “a document which I consider central to the whole magisterium of my pontificate.”

As artificial contraception, sterilization and legalized abortion become decades-old realities and discussions about legalizing euthanasia increase, he said, many people are tempted to think they are inevitable.

“On the contrary, they are the seeds of the corruption of society and its foundations,” the Pope said.

“The civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, just as it cannot accept the idea of the inevitability of wars or of interethnic extermination.”

The Pope said the Church and its members would try everything possible “to eliminate the legalized crime or at least to limit the damage of these laws.”

He described abortion as a “type of silent and cruel selection through which the weak are unjustly eliminated.”

“Life, truth and love” go hand in hand, John Paul said. When one of the values is attacked, all of them suffer.

“Facts exist which prove with growing clarity how policies and legislation contrary to life are leading society to decadence, not only morally but also demographically and economically.”

Laws legalizing abortion and euthanasia will not change until people's morality changes.

“In this sphere the Church will not leave anything untried, nor can it accept negligence or culpable silence.”

Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told the Feb. 11-14 plenary meeting of Pontifical Academy for Life that “many Catholics do not adequately fulfill their obligation to oppose these laws” which legalize abortion and euthanasia.

In fact, he said, while pastors have a role in explaining Christian morality and offering guidance, “it is principally up to lay Christians to confront the ‘imperfect laws’ of modern democracies.

When faced with unjust laws, Christians have several morally legitimate options, the archbishop said:

l “Prophetic resistance, which is a matter of affirming a value higher than that proposed by the state.”

l Collaboration in order to reduce the effects of the wrong. “Because this attitude may be difficult for those not directly involved in politics to understand, this must be publicly explained by those who make such a decision in conscience.”

l Tolerance, but only in a case in which “resistance to the wrong would bring about a greater wrong.”

If Christians are acting after serious thought and prayer and with guidance from their pastor, others are not to judge them, Archbishop Bertone said.

“One who tolerates or collaborates must not be judged as fearful or mediocre,” but as one who is trying to sow “a mustard seed” of goodness and hope for the future, he said.

One the other hand, one who chooses the path of resistance “must not be considered an extremist,” but one who is bringing truth to the world.

(From combined wire services)