The family is the central way of proclaiming the “Gospel of Life,” a top Vatican official said this week during a weekend-long celebration of Blessed John Paul II’s letter by that name.
In the family “children witness the Gospel of life in the relationship of their parents with one another and in the relationship of the parents with them,” Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said in remarks delivered at a conference held during the commemorative event. Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, said “A new reading of the Encyclical Letter must be at the core of the observance of the Year of Faith.”
Dr. Douglas Sylva chaired the conference, which was sponsored by C-FAM, publisher of the Friday Fax, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council on The New Evangelization. Sylva is Chairman of C-FAM’s board of directors.
Pope Francis celebrated Holy Mass commemorating Sunday, June 16, as a day to remember the Gospel of Life, which was made known by John Paul II in his letter Evangelium Vitae, arguably the most authoritative and complete denunciation of abortion and euthanasia.
The 1995 letter was the coup de grace that abated the push for an international right to abortion in the 1990s. John Paul wrote the letter as the Clinton White House and abortion groups attempted to create such a right at the UN conferences held at Cairo and Beijing in 1994 and 1995. The letter stands as a perpetual reminder of their failure then and now.
Echoing Blessed John Paul II, Cardinal Burke warned that secular societies that do no recognize God lose sight of the “mystery of man’s own being.” Without comprehending human dignity societies only measure human beings in terms of what they possess and produce, paving the way for moral relativism and ultimately the “supremacy of the strong over the weak.”
Burke told his audience that the inviolable dignity of human life is not a confessional matter but something “at the very foundation of the common good,” and called upon Catholics to engage in the public square, and articulate the truth about the Gospel of Life. The remarks came the same week the New York Times featured a story on the rise of anti-Christian policies in Europe.
Burke said that healthy families depend on a “new proclamation of the truth regarding woman and motherhood” that upholds the virtues of purity, chastity and modesty, and respect for the integrity of marriage and the family.
He lamented “human sexuality is no longer seen as the gift of God” and is instead used “as a tool for personal gratification.” He even warned that the “future of western culture” depended on restoring a proper understanding of sexuality.
Burke acknowledged the “irreplaceable” role that law plays in shaping cultures, and highlighted “developing and supporting truly pro-life and pro-family media” as an essential tool to educate the public, especially where mass media “confuse and corrupt minds and hearts, and dull consciences to the law written by God upon every human heart.”
Remarking on the event, C-FAM’s president, Austin Ruse, said, “We are proud to serve various Vatican offices throughout the year and are especially happy to have worked with the Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization on this amazing celebration of life.”