After his weekly prayer of the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reached out to Italy’s pro-life movement, encouraging them and expressing his gratitude for their commitment to life. He also summoned all Christians to “a renewed esteem of the human person and a more adequate care of life, from conception to natural death.”
The Pope’s words came on the day that Italy celebrates its Day for Life, whose theme this year is “Solidarity for life.”
“I extend my appreciation to the associations, movements and all those who defend human life,” Francis said.
The Pope said that by opening ourselves to life and serving life, “we experience the revolutionary power of love and tenderness, inaugurating a new humanism: the humanism of solidarity, a humanism of life,” he said.
The Pope’s words today followed on other recent declarations. For his annual Christmas message, Pope Francis compared the killing of unborn children to King Herod’s hunt for the baby Jesus, and said that abortion is the result of “the selfishness of a culture that does not love life.”
A week ago, Francis called the maternal womb “the first ‘school’ of communication,” where a person begins to familiarize himself with the outside world “within a protected environment, with the reassuring sound of the mother’s heartbeat.”
On Sunday, the Pope also spoke about the liberating power of the Gospel, saying that not only does it not oppress people, “it frees those enslaved to the many evil spirits of this world: the spirit of vanity, the love of money, pride, sensuality.”
“The Gospel,” he said, “changes hearts, changes lives and transforms the inclination to evil into good resolutions.”
Because of the Gospel’s power to change lives, Francis said, “it is the duty of Christians to spread its redeeming power everywhere, becoming missionaries and preachers of God’s Word.”
“Always remember that the Gospel has the power to change lives! Do not forget this,” he said.
“It is the Good News, which transforms us only when we allow ourselves to be transformed by it,” he said.
As he has done on other occasions, the Pope exhorted his hearers to read the Bible every day. “That’s why I ask you always to have a daily contact with the Gospel,” he said, “to read it every day, a passage, a verse, to meditate on it and even take it with you wherever you go.”
“Do not forget!” he said. “Read a passage from the Gospel every day. It is the power that changes us, transforms us; it changes lives and hearts,” he said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome