We Must Confront the Culture of Death, Pope Francis Said in a Little-Known Pro-Life Homily

In a little-known homily years ago, the man who was to become Pope Francis warned of the persecution of those promoting a respect for life, but nonetheless encouraged them to stand up for life.

Be courageous in promoting life, says Pope Francis. (Photo: The Guardian)
Be courageous in promoting life, says Pope Francis. (Photo: The Guardian)

“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you,” the Pope quoted the words of Christ.

Pope Francis’ homily, translated into English and set to exciting video footage of World Youth Day, was made into a video on YourTube by the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy.

This message of Christ from the Gospel of John is “a little chilling,” in the words of a LifeSiteNews translation of the cardinal’s talk. The culture of death is something every Christian must confront, he said. Contrary to the Gospel, this culture sees life only for its usefulness and perceived value. It is dispensable when seen as “costly” or “useless” — whether that applies to the elderly or the unborn.

Smelling a wolf

In his off-hand manner, the cardinal said that when it comes to promoting life, it’s about “knowing how to smell” a wolf disguised as a sheep. “We don’t have the luxury to be fools because we have a very beautiful message of life and we’re not permitted to be fools.”

The culture of death preaches egoism and self-survival, but not the generous giving of life to others, says the pope. Christ counters this by saying, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). This is the mark of a Christian, he said – caring for the elderly, the disabled, the underprivileged child, even when it is costly and sacrifices are needed. Like Christ the Good Shepherd, not one sheep should be lost.

Wolves of persecution

Although we are made in the image and likeness of God – from whom we are given our worth – the world does not see this. Like sheep among wolves, we may be persecuted and shunned for our pro-life beliefs. Pope Francis reminds us of the Christian martyrs, who themselves were killed for preaching the Gospel of Life, but were given sufficient strength from Jesus.

In Genesis, Cain questioned whether he was his brother’s keeper. His sin continues in modern times, as society – where the seeds of the culture of death have taken root – shows increasing apathy towards others, the pontiff said.

In his homily, given on Aug. 31, 2005, on the feast of St. Raymond Nonnatus, Pope Francis spoke of the saint’s image, which was traveling between houses. St. Raymond, who is the patron of midwives and pregnant mothers, lived a life caring for others, even surrendering himself as a hostage to ransom captive Christians. He is also an early member of the Order of Mercy. The image of this saint must be a reminder to us to care for life from beginning to end, following Christ as did his disciples, the pope said.

Read the full text of the homily  on our website.

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