Vatican backs European personhood initiative
by Patrick B. Craine
ROME, Italy, May 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Vatican is backing a petition campaign in the European Union that seeks a debate about enshrining personhood for the unborn from the moment of conception.
The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity says the campaign, which must gather at least one million signatures from 7 EU states by May 11th, 2013, is a “significant opportunity to send a wake-up call to the people of Europe.”
While the EU cannot change the laws of member states to protect unborn life, the petition aims to ensure the EU respects life in its areas of competence, particularly in terms of development aid and scientific research.
The petition’s organizing committee includes representatives from 21 pro-life organizations in 21 EU states. The campaign involves a coordinated effort by Christian associations and movements across the continent with the support of educational and cultural activities in each of the 27 states, and organizers hope to secure far more than minimum of a million signatures.
According to the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the organizers view the effort as “far more than a need,” saying it “is in fact urgent.”
“They say that it is absolutely necessary to have a ‘general mobilisation’ of all who support life, as requested by John Paul II in the encyclical Evangelium vitae (no. 95),” the Pontifical Council writes. “A true civil and moral renewal at a time of crisis, mistrust and resignation can begin to speak out on behalf of those who have no voice.”
Personhood USA, which has organized petitions in states across the U.S. calling for personhood amendments, said they are pleased to see that the Vatican supports the petition strategy as a means to achieve John Paul II’s call for a “general mobilization”.
“Petitions are great ways to identify, educate, and activate pro-lifers, especially if the petition process is enlisted in support of solid principles with a solid grass roots strategy behind it,” said Gualberto Garcia Jones, Personhood USA’s Director of Legislative Analysis.
He said paragraph 2270 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it “abundantly clear” that “legal personhood is the cornerstone of the pro-life movement.”
That paragraph reads: “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
“So what better catalyst could there be than a personhood petition, in the EU, in the US, or in any other nation that wishes to respect life?” Garcia Jones asked.