Pope John Paul II’s Funeral
When I was Director of Education for the Right to Life League of Southern California (1984-87) I worked with an older gentleman by the name of Frank Forve who had been a lawyer in his earlier days. He once told me that way back in 1959 the California Bar Assoc. passed a resolution calling for the liberalization of the abortion laws and consequently he withdrew his membership from that association. He took his first pro-life stand, the first of many, in 1959. But why did he do this? The Church had formed him, had helped him form his conscience and he knew both intuitively and intellectually what Vatican II would proclaim about six years later, in 1965: “Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern world, #51)
Of course the Church has always taught that abortion is gravely, terribly wrong. The Church has consistently taught her children to cherish the gift of human life as a gift from Almighty God. There are thousands upon thousands of examples of how the Church is a good Mother to her children, and particularly by giving them good teaching and direction (in season and out of season) through these past two thousand years.
Which brings us to JPII. I could argue twenty different reasons for distinguishing him as one of the Church’s greatest popes, but here I will mention only one: his Gospel of Life encyclical letter issued in 1995. It is a prophetic teaching for our modern age and is rich in its content. He faces the abortion plague head on, he analyzes society’s contributing problems and weaknesses and presents a resounding call to promoting a Culture of Life. It is a manifesto of sorts for all Christians who are pro-life (which should be all Christians). In the years ahead more and more Christians will come to appreciate it. G.P.
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