VATICAN CITY, December 12, 2011 ( – Speaking at his Angelus address today to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s square, Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Welcoming many pilgrims from the “Movement for Life” across Europe, the pope said, “Dear friends, on the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remember that the first of all rights is the right to life.”

Pope Benedict from the beginning of his pontificate has used many opportunities to raise the right to life, demonstrating his primary concern for what he considers the most basic human right. 


Shortly after becoming pope, Benedict XVI noted that attacks on preborn children, which include abortion and destructive research on embryos, are “today’s gravest injustice.” In the first book he published as pope, Benedict emphasized that the fight against abortion must continue. Significantly he wrote, “There is no such thing as ‘small murders.’”

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In March of 2006, the pope stressed that, “as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus” for political involvement is around the “non-negotiable” matters of life, family and parental rights in education.  And putting the principle into practice, while visiting both the U.S. president and the Canadian prime minister in 2009, the Holy Father gave the right to life priority in the discourse.

In recent years the pope has become increasingly insistent that the Catholic Church take up ever more strenuously the fight for the right to life.  “Guaranteeing the right to life is a duty upon which the future of humanity depends,” he said in 2007.  Also that year he noted that the right to life “must be supported by everyone because it is fundamental with respect to other human rights.”

His most striking move, however, was an unprecedented call to all Catholic churches worldwide to join him in a vigil for all ‘nascent human life’ on November 27 last year.