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Pilgrim icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland at the Divine Mercy Shrine.

We call upon all people of good will to listen to the call of the Mother of God and to join with great love and devotion the defense of the civilization of life and love, which is under serious threat globally.

So reads, in part, the “Universal Declaration in Defense of the Civilization of Life—Mexico 2016”, a landmark statement from a collection of Catholic and Orthodox pro-life organizations from around the world. Released on Divine Mercy Sunday during what Pope Francis has designated as the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the statement is both a resounding indictment of secular cultures where innocent life is under attack, and an expression of hope in the mother of God as intercessor for faithful who are doing everything in their power to defeat the Culture of Death.

“As we continue to fight for life and family, we must place our trust entirely in God and His divine mercy,” said Lech Kowalewski, who collaborated in the writing of the Declaration. “The only substantial change in cultures where the Culture of Death had reigned has come where the people turned explicitly to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, and asked for her help and intercession with her Son.”

The pilgrim icon in Lourdes, France.

Kowalewski refers to historical examples, also referenced in the Declaration, of the defeat of Communism that began in Poland after the visit of Saint Pope John Paul II, and the conversion of barbarous pagan cultures in Mexico that followed the apparition of Guadalupe. In Poland, the Solidarity Movement regularly invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa in their peaceful and victorious rebellion against Communist occupation. Nearly five centuries earlier, an apparition witnessed by a poor Indian peasant named Juan Diego was the occasion for the appearance of a miraculous image, Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading to the conversion of millions throughout Mexico in only a few years.

“This is why Ewa and I reached out to friends from around the world several years ago, and together we came up with the idea for the From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life,” added Kowalewski. “The ancient Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle, and this tradition was renewed by Christians who brought traditional images of the Mother of God, the new Ark of the Covenant, into battle as well. With the level of moral and social decay we see around the world, it is time for a miracle again, and Our Lady has delivered in the past as she points all the faithful to her Son, Jesus Christ.”

The From Ocean to Ocean Campaign, in which an Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is carried throughout nations by the faithful, currently continues in Mexico, where she has visited 140 communities since November 2014. Since it began in Vladivostok, Russia in 2012, the pilgrim Icon of Czestochowa has traveled over 103,000 miles through 27 nations, and has been seen by over 5 million people.

The icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Fatima, Portugal. She had an unusually high profile visit for such a pilgrimage.

“It has been a tremendous blessing to see our Mexican brothers and sisters in the faith embrace the Mother of God under her Czestochowa Icon, as the miraculous Icon of Guadalupe remains so central to Mexican culture,” said Ewa Kowalewska, who wrote the Universal Declaration in collaboration with her husband and with Beatriz Gonzalez, coordinator of the Campaign in Mexico. “When this campaign began in Vladivostok over four years ago, we could not have foreseen all of her travels and the wonderful effects where she has visited.”

The Universal Declaration was initiated in Mexico. It was presented and read at a Holy Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated by the bishop of Valle del Chalco, Víctor René Rodríguez Gómez. The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has been hosted at the Sanctuary of Mercy Shrine in Tenango del Aire, which is in the same diocese and has been the “home base” for the Ocean to Ocean Campaign as it has proceeded throughout Mexico. The Declaration was also presented on April 2nd in Czestochowa, Poland, at the monastery that hosts the traditional icon.

“So many people have lost hope as they look around at sky high abortion rates, the embrace of euthanasia, terrorism and other attacks on vulnerable lives in modern societies,” added Kowalewska. “But such despair is not an option. Our hope amid such chaos comes from the Lord, who has defeated sin and death, and whose mother calls us again to turn to Him if we are to see a victory against this Culture of Death.”

The icons last stop in Europe before coming to the Americas in 2013. This is in Nazare, Portugal the departure point for many missionaries to the new world. Present are Catholic and Orthodox clergy.

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The Declaration will be published in Polish, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Czech, Slovak and more languages.

When asked what they expect the Universal Declaration to accomplish, the Kowalewskis point to past victories for life and faith when the Church places all its trust in God and asks for the intercession of the Mother of Jesus.

Our Lady of Czestochowa in Washington, DC at the 2014 March for Life.

“God’s plans are so much better, more complicated, more beautiful than our own. Yet He has shown again and again that His Mercy is without bounds, that those who repent and turn to Him can see victory even in the darkest of times. He has chosen the Mother of Jesus many times as His means of reaching proud hearted people who have given up hope, but who recognize in her maternal love the Hope of Christ Our Savior. There is always hope. We do not tell God what to do, we try our best to listen to Him and follow without fear. History and faith tell us that He is our only hope. We have to act like we believe this.”

For more information on the “Universal Declaration in Defense of a Civilization of Life—Mexico 2016” and the From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life, visit

Below is the full text of the “Universal Declaration on Protection of the Civilization of Life – Mexico 2016”:



From the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Tenango del Aire, Mexico on Divine Mercy Sunday, in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the eve of the Sanctity of Life Day united with the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord

We, the defenders of life gathered in the International Coalition “From Ocean to Ocean”, leading a historic pilgrimage of Our Lady of Czestochowa through the world in defense of life:

Respond to the great call of Mary, Mother of Christ, to protect the civilization of life and love in the contemporary world;

Stand in the presence of the Theotokos before Her living Guadalupe image on Tepeyac Hill with Our Lady of Czestochowa on a peregrination passing through Mexico and Latin America with a copy of the Divine Mercy painting Saint Faustina commissioned;

Trust that Mary, the Great Patroness of the Defense of Life, as She revealed Herself in Mexico to free people from the shackles of the culture of death, will also today protect the endangered civilization of life and love; and

Thank God for the presence of Mary, who in Her Czestochowa Icon has traveled over 165,000 km through 27 countries on three continents, awakening consciences and pointing to the only Way to save the modern world, Jesus Christ.

We call upon all people of good will to listen to the call of the Mother of God and to join with great love and devotion the defense of the civilization of life and love, which is under serious threat globally.

With you Mary, we will protect our family, our children and our faith. We will stand for the Church of Christ, for peace in the world, and for our future!

Most Holy Mother Mary,

We give thanks for your peregrination in defense of the civilization of life and love. In the Icon of Czestochowa, you have journeyed more than 4 times the distance around the world since 2012, spreading graces and life-giving love. You cause joy everywhere as you passed through 27 countries on three continents, showing the world that the faith in the hearts of people is still alive!

Now in Mexico, you have visited over 140 sites. We are living the mystery of the Visitation. We carry you into our homes, families and sanctuaries, but you carry us as true “Sentinels of life.” “Do not give up!” as Saint John Paul II encouraged us in the new millennium: “Duc in Altum!” Cast out into the deep!

Sailing through dark waters and torrents is difficult. This is why we are so grateful to have the Blessed Virgin Mary by our side. You are the radiant dawn and sure guide for our steps.

As you said on Tepeyac Hill in your apparition to Saint Juan Diego as Our Lady of Guadalupe: “Am I not here who am your mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? (…) Do not fear (…)”

We also have the promise of your Son: “I am with you until the end of the world.” (Mt 28,20)

In the midst of so much confusion, pain and sorrow, you give us strength. Teach us to live as loving families with the model of your Holy Family ever before us. Increase our trust and our union with your Divine Son. We desperately need God’s abundant graces and mercy.

Mother of Mercy, we come to you for encouragement. The world needs beautiful witnesses to the sacredness and inviolability of every human life, especially the most precious and vulnerable children in their mother’s wombs. In a time where the true nature of marriage and family is attacked globally, we must show ever more clearly the marvel of a sacramental marriage serving as the “Cradle of Life” and “Domestic Church.”

With you, we can resist the despair and death that comes from the enemy of God. Inspire us to become a people of prayer, especially of the Most Holy Rosary. Help us to implore Divine Mercy continuously. May we proclaim with increasing fervor, “Jesus I Trust in You!” and invoke daily the beautiful words of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!” 

Thank you, Mother!

Reprinted with permission from Human Life International.