by Steven Ertelt
February 5, 2007
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Catholics in Italy celebrated their Day of Life on Sunday and Pope Benedict XVI urged more than 50,000 people gathered for a special speech to protect both life and family from attack. He called on Catholics to oppose both abortion and euthanasia.
The pontiff spoke to about 50,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square and he called the family the "cradle of life.”
He said the "family is the natural environment for the birth and education of children and, therefore, for ensuring the future of the entire human family."
Referring to threats such as abortion and euthanasia, the pope said life is a mysterious gift from God that should not be denied “to anyone, not even to the small and defenseless unborn, and especially so when the baby has grave disabilities.”
He called on Catholics to "witness to their commitment in favor of life, from conception to natural death” and “to receive the great and mysterious gift of life.”
According to a Catholic World News report, Pope Benedict also talked about the elderly and the disabled — those who are at the end of their lives and deserve protection.
He said relatives and medical personnel must avoid the “the trap of thinking they can dispose of human life at will,” and justifying assisted suicide or euthanasia.
“I urge you not to fall into the deception of thinking that one can dispose of life to the point of legitimizing its interruption with euthanasia, masking it perhaps with a veil of human mercy,” he said.
“Life, which is the work of God, must not be denied to any one, not even the smallest and defenseless newborn, and much less so when he has serious handicaps,” Pope Benedict said.
“Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, that respect will grow for the sacred character of life," he concluded.