By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Along with the worldwide Church, Pope Benedict XVI conducted a vigil for “nascent human life” in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday evening in which he reminded the faithful that embryos are not just biological material but dynamic, autonomous individuals.
According to the National Catholic Register, the vigil was conducted along with a vespers service to mark the beginning of Advent. In his homily, which was delivered to a standing-room-only crowd in the Basilica, the Pope warned the faithful about “cultural tendencies that seek to anaesthetize consciences with misleading motivations. With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism. This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being.”
He also warned about the “darkening of consciences” toward the innate value of life, affirming that the unborn child “has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests. The human person is a good in and of himself and his integral development should always be sought.”
He went on to say that “the many violations of their rights that are committed in the world sorely hurt the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad landscape of the injustices committed against human life, before and after birth, I make mine Pope John Paul II’s passionate appeal to the responsibility of each and every individual: “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life! Only in this direction will you find justice, development, true freedom, peace and happiness!”(Encyclical Evangelium vitae, 5).”
He also called for “the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life.”
Visit Vatican Radio for a complete translation of the Pope’s homily.
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