Here is a translation of the Pope’s address to participants in the 35th Italian National Congress of Centers of Aid to Life.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Pro-Life Movement!
You have come to Rome from all parts of Italy to take part in your National Congress and to renew once again your commitment to defend and promote human life. I greet you all cordially, beginning with your President, whom I thank for the words with which he introduced this meeting. I encourage you to continue your important work in favor of life from conception to its natural end, also taking into account the deeply-felt conditions that so many brothers and sisters must face and sometimes suffer.
In the existential dynamics everything is in relation, and one must nurture personal and social sensibility be it in the reception of a new life be it in those situations of poverty and exploitation that strike the weakest and most disadvantaged persons. If on one hand “How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, … if we fail to protect a human embryo,” (Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, 120), on the other hand “human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement” (Ibid., 5). In fact, we witness with sorrow that many persons are tried by difficult conditions of life, which call for our attention and our solidaristic commitment.
Yours is not only a social service, although rightful and noble. For Christ’s disciples, to help wounded human life means to go and encounter persons in need, to put oneself at their side, to take charge of their fragility and pain, so that they can rise again. How many families are vulnerable because of poverty, sickness, lack of work and of a house! How many elderly endure the weight of suffering and of loneliness! How many young people are lost, menaced by dependences and other slaveries, and who wait to find confidence again in life! These persons, wounded in body and spirit, are icons of that man of the Gospel that, traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell into the hands of brigands that robbed and beat him. He first felt the indifference of some and then the closeness of the Good Samaritan (cf. Luke 10:30-37).
On that road, which crosses the desert of life, in our time also there are so many wounded, because of today’s brigands, who strip them not only of their goods but also of their dignity. And in face of the pain and the needs of these vulnerable brothers of ours, some turn away and go on, while others stop and respond with generous dedication to their cry for help. You, adherents of the Pro-Life Movement, have sought, in forty years of activity, to imitate the Good Samaritan. In face of various forms of menaces to human life, you have approached the fragility of your neighbor, and have worked so that those that live in precarious conditions are not excluded and discarded. Through the capillary endeavor of the “Centers of Aid to Life,” spread throughout Italy, you have been occasions of hope and rebirth for so many persons.
I thank you for the good you have done and do with so much love, and I encourage you to continue with confidence on this path, continuing to be Good Samaritans! Do not tire of working for the protection of the most vulnerable persons, who have the right to be born to life, as well as of all those that ask for a healthier and more fitting existence. In particular, there is need to work, at different levels and with perseverance, in the promotion and defense of the family, first resource of society, especially in reference to the gift of children and the affirmation of the dignity of woman. In this connection, I am pleased to stress that in your activity, you have always received everyone, regardless of their religion and nationality. The important number of women, especially immigrants, that turn to your Centers shows that when a concrete support is offered, a woman, notwithstanding her problems and conditionings, is able to have triumph within herself the meaning of love, of life and of maternity.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am certain that your activity, but even before that your spirituality, will receive a special benefit from the imminent Holy Year of Mercy. May it be for you a strong stimulus to interior renewal, to become “merciful as our Father is merciful” (cf. Luke 6:36). I entrust each one of you and all your projects of goodness to Mary, Mother of the living. I accompany you with my blessing and I ask you, please, to pray for me.
[Original text: Italian]
[Translation by ZENIT]