In this issue we complete our introduction to John Paul II’s prophetic document on the Gospel of Life.
One of the most important initiatives of Pope John Paul II was his call for a ‘new evangelization’—a rekindling of the primary mission of the Church to proclaim, by word and deed, the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people. This would include the proclamation of the Gospel to those peoples and cultures which had received the Gospel in the past, but have ‘fallen away,’ (hence the need for ‘re-evangelization’).
In the final chapter of Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul reminds us of the Church’s identity as ‘the people of life and for life… because God, in his unconditional love, has given us the Gospel of life’ (78.3; 79.1). I am reminded of powerful words in the Gospel of John in which Jesus contrasts the thief ‘who comes only to steal and kill and destroy’ with himself, the Good Shepherd who said, ‘I came that they may have life and have it abundantly’ (Jn 10:10). Most of this encyclical has focused on the monumental struggle between the ‘culture of death,’ which like the thief ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy’, and the mission of Jesus and the Church to bring and protect life. This final section focuses on the positive mission of the Church to promote a ‘new culture of human life’.