By Robin Gomes
"Choose life" is the theme chosen for the 2020 edition of the Day for Life of the Catholic Churches in the UK and Ireland.
Meaning and value of human life
The purpose of the annual observance promoted by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW), together with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland (BCOS) and the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is to create awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition.
The Church teaches that life is to be nurtured and protected from conception to natural death.
Pope - culture of life
Pope Francis has sent a message to the bishops of the United Kingdom for the Day for Life, urging prayers for all those who work to uphold the value and dignity of each person.
He hopes that the current health crisis will lead to the emergence of a culture of life attentive to the protection of all the children of God, starting with the most vulnerable.
The message was sent on the Pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, to Auxiliary Bishop John Sherrington of Westminster, Lead Bishop for Life Issues for CBCEW. In it, the Holy Father draws attention to the appropriateness of the theme, "Choose Life". This year, he says, marks the 25th anniversary of "Evangelium Vitae", the encyclical of Saint John Paul II on the value and inviolability of human life.
Valuing life amid pandemic
“In these days when our world faces the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cardinal Parolin writes, “the Holy Father asks the faithful to pray for all those families, volunteers and healthcare professionals committed, often heroically, to the care and healing of the suffering, and for all those who, amid the continuing ‘pandemic’ of poverty and war, work to uphold the God-given value and dignity of every human person.”
The Pope hopes that “amid the present crisis, all will be led to a greater appreciation of the moral imperative to build a ‘culture of life’ marked by ever greater concern for nurturing, protecting and promoting the integral welfare of all God’s children, beginning with the most vulnerable.”
Cardinal Parolin asks Bishop Sherrington to convey the Pope’s message also to the bishops of Scotland and Ireland.
Gratitude of English and Welsh bishops
The bishop expresses the gratitude of the bishops of England and Wales for the Pope’s blessing and inspiration.
“The global coronavirus pandemic which we are currently experiencing,” the bishop writes, “has reminded us in the starkest way of the importance and God-given dignity and worth of every life, especially the weakest and most frail.”
“Pope Francis’s message,” Bishop Sherrington says, “gives us hope and renews our commitment and action to this most basic of human instincts – the protection of the mystery of human life at every stage.”
Bishop Sherrington explains that the message for the Day for Life emphasises the care of the unborn child and pregnant women.
He urges for prayers that “minds and hearts may be opened to the sheer gift and wonder of every new life in the womb and thank those who work ceaselessly to protect this life more fully by legislation.” “We also draw attention to the hope and healing that women and men can experience following the trauma of abortion,” he adds.