By John-Henry Westen

  VATICAN CITY, February 26, 2007 ( – Pope Benedict XVI addressed an assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life Saturday, which was meeting on “Christian conscience in support of the right to life.”  The right to life, the Pope said, “must be supported by everyone because it is fundamental with respect to other human rights.”

  Pope Benedict noted that while the truths of the natural law can be known by human reason, there is a need today to reeducate people “in the desire to know the real truth, and in the defense of their own freedom of choice, against the inclination of the masses and the flattery of propaganda.”

  Benedict XVI said that despite efforts to make known the necessity for humanity to respect the right to life, “attacks against the right to life in the world have increased.” In this context he referred to “pressures for the legalization of abortion in Latin American countries and in developing nations, also through the use of the liberalization of new forms of chemical abortion under the pretext of reproductive health,” and to an “increase in population control policies.”

  The Pope highlighted developed nations’ growing interest in biotechnological research and “the obsessive search for the ‘perfect child’.” There is, he said, “a new wave of eugenic discrimination,” which “gains consensus in the name of the supposed good of the individual while, especially in the economically developed world, laws are being promoted for the legalization of euthanasia. All this is happening as … pressure increases for the legalization of forms of cohabitation alternative to marriage and closed to natural procreation.”

  Christian consciences, he said must be “illuminated in order to recognize the true value of actions,” and so as to be able “to distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, cultural pluralism and the overlay of interests do not help to this end.”

  The Pope emphasized the need “to open minds and hearts” during the various stages of life, to ensure that people “accept the fundamental duties upon which the existence of individuals and of the community depends. Only in this way will it be possible to ensure that the young understand the values of life, … of marriage and of the family,” and “appreciate the sanctity of love, the joy and responsibility of parenthood, and of collaborating with God in the giving of life.” When “continuous and qualified formation” is lacking, it “becomes more difficult to pronounce upon the problems associated with biomedicine in the fields of sexuality, nascent life, procreation, and upon the way to treat and cure patients and the weaker groups of society.”

“When the value of human life is at stake,” he concluded, “this harmony between magisterial function and lay commitment becomes uniquely important. Life is the primary good we have received from God, the foundation of all the others. Guaranteeing the right to life – for everyone and in the same way for everyone – is a duty upon which the future of humanity depends.”

  (with files from the Vatican Information Service)