While on a visit to the Principality of Liechenstein in September of this year, Pope John Paul II addressed civil authorities. As is customary with Papal speeches, his formal address was not meant to only for the ears of the local government. The English-language Osservatore Romano of September 23 carried it under the title “Respect for human life guarantees a future full of hope and worthy of man.” The following are some extracts. In addition, we have added a relevant quote from the Declaration on Procured Abortion, issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on June 28, 1974.
Exactly 100 years ago, in 1885, Pope Leo XIII, in his encyclical Immortale Dei, expressed some fundamental thoughts concerning the Christian System of Government and the theological origin of civil authority. In it he exhorted statesmen to take heed, above all, of God and his will, as the supreme ruler of the world. I know that the problems for which politicians have to find and apply solutions today are extremely complex. I also see, however, that those responsible for the State and society, in their search for solutions to problems, are referred unfailingly to historical, ethical and religious assumptions. Precisely, the Christian politician must retain a keen sensitivity for the basic conditions which accompany day-to-day politics. His actions must be based upon a consciousness of solid values and responsibility. In his discussions and decisions he must never depart from what his conscience tells him, a conscience which is moulded and continues to be moulded by Christian faith. Particularly in the context of today’s manifold opinions and intentions the believing Christian, occupying a leading position in society, must be expected to take an unequivocal stand.
Our common aim is to contribute to the best of our ability to justice and peace in the world. These efforts on the part of the Church comply with a vital desire which he Second Vatican council – concluded twenty years ago – expressed in a separate chapter of the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes under the title “The fostering of peace and establishment of a Community of Nations.” In this sense, “citizens should develop a generous and loyal devotion to their country without any narrowing of mind. In other words they must always look simultaneously to the welfare of the whole human family which is tied together by the manifold bonds linking races peoples and nations.” (G.S. 75).
The natural basis of the family of the human race, even though it is large, composed of individual families of nations, is always the individual family. Thus its moral condition is closely linked with the religious-moral quality of the individual family. Permit me to repeat and emphasize here, in regard to the moral integrity of the individual family and of the entire community, how decisive is it today to take a determined stance for the defence of basic moral values of society, particularly for the protection of unborn human life. The Second Vatican Council speaks very clearly in this regard: “God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life – a ministry which must be fulfilled in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 51).
The clear voice with which the Church speaks for the weak, defenceless child may not go unheard; it is the voice of the child itself which God has “knit together in the mother’s womb,” as the psalmist said (cf. Psalm 139:13). Nobody may injure this womb in an immoral way. He who does so, injures the family itself, the actual family as well as the national family and the family of mankind. May the Principality of Liechenstein therefore also undertake everything on the moral foundation of its Christian heritage in order effectively to protect and defend the value and the dignity of human life in all its phases. The “Charter of the Rights of the Family” which the Holy See submitted to all persons, institutions and authorities in October 1983, and which deals with the family’s mission in today’s world, is a helpful guide “in favour of the family, which must be preserved and defended against every illegal attack.”
The unborn human being’s right to life is one of the inalienable human rights…
From the June 1974 declaration on procured abortion:
It must in any case be clearly understood that a Christian can never conform to a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can a Christian take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it,. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application. It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the Christian law and their professional situation.