POLAND, June 30, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic pro-lifers world-wide are petitioning the Vatican for a new patron – the late Pope John Paul II.

In a letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the international pro-life organization World Prayer for Life thanked the pope for the recent beatification of John Paul II, noting his “great commitment” to protecting life from conception to natural death.

“We humbly dare ask Your Holiness to establish blessed John Paul II the patron of human life defenders,” the pro-life group wrote.

Pro-life leaders have long hailed the late pope for his many contributions to the cause of the pro-life movement, with Rev. Frank Pavone recently calling John Paul the “Pope of Life.”

“I saw, close-up, his devotion and enthusiasm for the cause of life. It shaped all that he did,”  Pavone, national director of Priests for Life and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told LifeSiteNews on the occasion of the pope’s beatification on May 1, 2011.

Judie Brown, president of American Life League and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the late pope’s beatification “validates his efforts as de-facto leader of the worldwide pro-life movement.”

Pope John Paul II died April 2, 2005 after the third longest pontificate in Church history.  He was revered for his role in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union, his defense of theological orthodoxy, his painstaking efforts to implement an authentic interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, and his many theological contributions, particularly through pioneering what is known as the theology of the body.

Yet, many have said his single greatest contribution during his pontificate was his ardent promotion of the “culture of life,” a term he popularized through his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”).

In their request to Pope Benedict XVI, World Prayer for Life calls that encyclical a “prophetic encyclical” and “a signpost in the service for life.”

The encyclical not only included unequivocal condemnations of such evils as abortion, euthanasia, and artificial reproduction, but girded pro-life advocates with a meditation on the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of the “culture of death.”  The pope laid the groundwork for a truly Christian response to the attacks against life in modern society, centered on the fundamental dignity of the human person.

He was clear, for example, on the urgency of combating the “contraceptive mentality” as part of the pro-life effort.  “Despite their differences of nature and moral gravity, contraception and abortion are often closely connected, as fruits of the same tree,” he observed.  “The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.”

According to Rev. Pavone, the pope’s addresses, encyclicals, and other writings on life provide a “package” containing the “doctrinal, spiritual, and personal expression of the Church’s unchanging pro-life message” for pro-lifers in the modern culture.

“He took the traditional, objective principle of the sanctity of life and spoke to a society that thinks in subjective, individualistic categories,” Rev. Pavone said.  “He did this effectively by focusing on each human person as an individual, unique expression of the one God.”

World Prayer for Life is calling on pro-life groups world-wide to support and join their request to Pope Benedict XVI to make John Paul II a patron of life defenders all over the world.