Magisterial Documents: Evangelium Vitae

On the Gospel of Life (Pope John Paul II)
25 March 1995

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Brief History

Articles 102 105 of Evangelium Vitae portray Mary as the bearer and defender of life. She is "the one who accepted 'Life' in the in the name of all and for the sake of all." (EV 102) The document explains Revelations 12:1, "A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun." This passage can symbolize both Mary and the Church. The post-Vatican II documents repeatedly identify Mary with the Church. Evangelium Vitae continues this theme and identifies the one with the other. (EV 103)

Mary is also described as "the bright dawn of the new world" to whom "we entrust the cause of life." (EV 105) The Church, that is, each of us, are to be the dawn for a world that cherishes life. Evangelium Vitae also teaches that Mary assists the Church "to realize that life is always at the center of a great struggle between good and evil, between light and darkness." (EV 104)


Introduction 1-16
The incomparable worth of the human person
New threats to human life

In communion with all the Bishops of the world

I. The Voice of Your Brother's Blood Cries to Me from the Ground: Present-Day Threats to Human Life 7 -28

"Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him" (Gen 4:8): the roots of violence against life 7-9
"What have you done?" (Gen 4:10): the eclipse of the value of life 10-17
"Am I my brother's keeper?" (Gen 4:9): a perverse idea of freedom 18-20
"And from your face I shall be hidden" (Gen 4:14): the eclipse of the sense of God and of man 21-24
"You have come to the sprinkled blood" (cf. Heb 12:22, 24): signs of hope and invitation to commitment 25-28

II. I Came That They May Have Life: The Christian Message Concerning Life 29-51

"The life was made manifest, and we saw it" (1 Jn 1:2): with our gaze fixed on Christ, "the Word of life" 29-30
"The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation" (Ex 15:2): life is always a good 31
"The name of Jesus... has made this man strong" (Acts 3:16): in the uncertainties of human life, Jesus brings life's meaning to fulfillment 32-33
"Called... to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom 8:28-29): God's glory shines on the face of man 34-36
"Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die" (Jn 11:26): the gift of eternal life 37-38
"From man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting" (Gen 9:5): reverence and love for every human life 39-41
"Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28): man's responsibility for life 42-43
"For you formed my inmost being" (Ps 139:13): the dignity of the unborn child 44-45
"I kept my faith even when I said, I am greatly afflicted" (Ps 116:10): life in old age and at time of suffering. 46-47
"All who hold her fast will live" (Bar 4:1): from the law of Sinai to the gift of the Spirit 48-49
"They shall look on him who they have pierced" (Jn 19:37): the Gospel of life is brought to fulfillment on the tree of the Cross 50-51

III. You Shall Not Kill: God's Holy Law 52-77

If you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17): Gospel and commandment 52
"From man in regard to his fellow man I will demand an accounting for human life" (Gen 9:5): human life is sacred and inviolable 53-57
"Your eyes beheld my unformed substance" (Ps 139:16): the unspeakable crime of abortion 58-63
"It is I who bring both death and life" (Dt 32:39): the tragedy of euthanasia 64-67
"We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29): civil law and the moral law 68-74
"You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Lk 10:27): "promote" life 75-77

IV. You Did It to Me: For a New Culture of Human Life 78

"You are God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9): a people of life and for life 78
"That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you" (1 Jn 1:3): proclaiming the Gospel of life 80-82
"I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14): celebrating the Gospel of life 83-86
"What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?" (Jas 2:14): serving the Gospel of life 87-91
"Your children will be like olive shoots around your table" (Ps 128:3): the family as the "sanctuary of life" 92-94
"Walk as children of light" (Eph 5:8): bringing about a transformation of culture 95-100
"We are writing this that our joy may be complete" (1 Jn 1:4): the Gospel of life is for the whole of human society 101

Conclusion 102-105

"A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun" (Rev 12:1): the motherhood of Mary and the Church 103
"And the dragon stood before the woman ... that he might devour her child when she brought it forth" (Rev 12:4): life menaced by the forces of evil 104
"Death shall be no more" (Rev 21:4): the splendour of the Resurrection 105


AAS 87 (Ag 7, 1995): 677-679
Inside the Vatican (April 1995): 3-50

© This material has been compiled by M. Jean Frisk.
Copyright is reserved for The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute.
Most recently updated in 2005.

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