Ahead of this year's Day for Life, Pope Francis has given his Apostolic Blessing to it. This year's theme is 'Choose Life', which will focus on the dignity and worth of the unborn child and expectant mothers.
The Holy Father sent the following message, communicated by the Holy See’s Secretariat of State:
'His Holiness Pope Francis sends prayerful good wishes for the celebration of the 2020 Day for Life in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
'The theme "Choose Life" is particularly fitting in this twenty-fifth anniversary year of Saint John Paul II’s Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, which summoned the entire Church to be "a people of life and for life" (n: 78).
'In these days when our world faces the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the Holy Father asks the faithful to pray for all those families, volunteers and healthcare professionals committed, often heroically, to the care and healing of the suffering, and for all those who, amid the continuing "pandemic" of poverty and war, work to uphold the God-given value and dignity of every human person.
'It is his hope that amid the present crisis all will be led to a greater appreciation of the moral imperative to build a "culture of life" marked by ever greater concern for nurturing, protecting and promoting the integral welfare of all God’s children, beginning with the most vulnerable.
'With these sentiments, the Holy Father gives the assurance of his closeness in prayer and cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.'
Bishop John Sherrington, the Lead Bishop for Life issues, said:
'We are very grateful to the Holy Father for giving the Day for Life his Apostolic Blessing. The global coronavirus pandemic which we are currently experiencing has reminded us in the starkest way of the importance and God-given dignity and worth of every life, especially the weakest and most frail.
'Pope Francis’s message gives us hope and renews our commitment and action to this most basic of human instincts: the protection of the mystery of human life at every stage.
'This year, the Day for Life message emphasises the care of the unborn child and pregnant women. We pray that minds and hearts may be opened to the sheer gift and wonder of every new life in the womb and thank those who work ceaselessly to protect this life more fully by legislation. We also draw attention to the hope and healing that women and men can experience following the trauma of abortion.
'There are resources available on the Day for Life website which offer prayers, information about the support which is available for pregnant women and their children, and hopeful testimonies from moving experiences at Rachel’s Vineyard, a retreat for women who have had abortions and people who have been hurt or affected by abortion. We hear of the power of God’s mercy.'
Day for Life is scheduled to be celebrated on 31 May in Scotland, 21 June in England and Wales and 7 October in Ireland. However, due to the current Covid-19 situation, the dates on which Day for Life is celebrated may change.