Praying for Life

by Kathryn Jean Lopez

Turn your eyes to Rome this weekend, and you’ll see a celebration of the dignity of every human life, led by the pope, American cardinal Raymond Burke, and Archbishop Augustine DiNoia (who I always enjoy pointing out is a New York native – took the subway to school like others of us) and dynamic young Americans, among others. This weekend’s tribute to The Gospel of Life is meant to be educational and prayerful. Douglas Sylva, who is a senior fellow at the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute gives a preview:


KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: What are you doing in Rome this weekend?

DOUGLAS SYLVA: This weekend is one of the main events of the Year of Faith that Pope Benedict initiated and that Pope Francis has continued. The weekend celebrates the Gospel of Life, both the encyclical written in 1995 by Blessed Pope John Paul II and the general movement in defense of innocent human life has come to be known by the same name. I’m here because I helped to organize the English speaking events for the weekend.

LOPEZ: Is adoration and Mass the highlight, really?

SYLVA: The Holy Hour for Life and the Mass presided over by Pope Francis will certainly be the highlights, but there will be events in many different languages, including French, Polish, and Italian. The events for English speakers will include an educational conference with Cardinal Burke as the keynote speaker.

LOPEZ: What is the goal?

SYLVA: Simple: to affirm and to evangelize. The weekend has been organized by the Pontifical Council on Promoting the New Evangelization; the Church considers the Gospel of Life to be a prominent component of evangelizing, especially to formerly Christian societies.

LOPEZ: What message would you like the world to hear from Rome this weekend?

SYLVA: I hope the world would come to see that the Gospel of Life and the Gospel message of Jesus are one message, and that Catholics the world over are embracing the Gospel of Life. 

LOPEZ: Why is this significant in the wake of the Gosnell trial, in the 40th anniversary year of Roe?

SYLVA: A world without the Christian conception of human dignity will be a vert different one. A civilization that does not begin with the presupposition, however imperfectly applied, that all individuals, simply by being made in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Jesus on the cross, possess inestimable value, will end up being defined by people like Dr. Gosnell. The fact that so much of mainstream society could not forget Gosnell and his practices quickly enough shows we may already be there!

LOPEZ: What do you pray for? Why must we pray?

SYLVA: I pray for my children, that they will embrace a culture of life in their own lives, and avoid the traps and pitfalls of the culture of death, with all of its seeming attractions.

We all must pray for a culture that looks to protect the weakest and most vulnerable. 

LOPEZ: Is there a message of this new pope that helps guide you this weekend?

SYLVA: Pope Francis’s emphasis on the need to counter the spiritual poverty of modern society helps to guide me.

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