Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) – The celebration in Italy of the Day for Life promoted by the Italian Bishops’ Conference which starts for the diocese of Rome an annual ‘Week for Life and the Family’ offered the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI an opportunity on the first Sunday in February to reaffirm the value of human life at every stage and the importance of the family based on matrimony. “I join the Italian Bishops to renew a call to all men and women of goodwill reiterated also by my venerable predecessors- the Pope said -, to be open to the great and mysterious gift of life. Life is the work of God and it cannot be denied to anyone, not even the smallest and most helpless unborn child, not even in case of some serious disability. At the same time, in unison with the Bishops of the Church in Italy, I urge people not to by misled into thinking that man can dispose of life, to the point of legalising its interruption with euthanasia, perhaps under the guise of human pity".
The Holy Father then recalled that the family is the "cradle" of life and of every vocation, “the family founded on matrimony is the natural environment for the birth and education of children and therefore it guarantees the future of the whole human race”. Suffering today of profound crisis and faced with many difficulties, the family must be protected, assisted, safeguarded and valued. “If this task falls in the first place to the spouses- the Pope said -, it is also a primary duty for the Church and all public institutions to support the family with pastoral and political initiatives taking into account the actual needs of married couples, the elderly and the new generations”. Recalling the recent celebration of the Day of Consecrated Life, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that in a happy family, illuminated by the faith and by holy love of God, there can more easily flourish vocations at the service of the Gospel in the priesthood, in religious life and the different forms of consecrated life. Before leading the recitation of the midday Angelus prayer the Pope urged those present to pray that “through ongoing efforts to promote life and the institution of the family, our communities may be places of communion and hope which renew, despite many difficulties, the great ‘yes’ to authentic love and the reality of man and the family in keeping with God’s original plan”. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 5/2/2007; righe 25, parole 383)