6-June-2013 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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

1995 Encyclical Said to Have Clarified a Lot of Confusion

By Ann Schneible

ROME, June 06, 2013 (Zenit.org) - 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


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."

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