Vatican plans huge pro-life, evangelization gathering

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Father Geno Sylva April 12, 2013 Interview at the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.

VATICAN City, April 15, 2013–A major highlight for the Year of Faith will be a two-day celebration in Rome on the Church’s teaching about the dignity of life and how it fits with the New Evangelization.

Father Geno Sylva, the English-language official for the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, hopes the event will speak so clearly to the secular world that it is “going to have to listen and say, ‘well, there is a culture of life coming out of the Church.’”

The June 15-16 international gathering will begin on Saturday morning with a catechesis session on “The Gospel of Life and the New Evangelization.”

The event will “explore the enduring and timeless truths of Blessed John Paul II’s 1995 encyclical, ‘Evangelium Vitae,’ and the central role that the Gospel of Life continues to have in the Church’s mission of the New Evangelization,” according to organizers.

Fr. Sylva explained in an April 12 interview with CNA/EWTN News that it’s important for people to realize that the teaching moments are to help them “understand our faith, what are the reasons why we believe.”

“So, when they come here, we’re hoping that their minds are touched as well as their hearts,” he said.

Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston will be offering his reflections for English speakers at the Pontifical Urbanian College, followed by a discussion panel with Prof. Francis Beckwith and Robert Royal.

The presence of Cardinal O’Malley is significant because he is the head of the U.S. bishops pro-life committee. But his profile jumped even higher when Pope Francis named him April 13 as one of eight cardinals who will advise him on reforming the Church’s central administration.

On Saturday afternoon and evening, pilgrims will have the chance to visit the tomb of St. Peter, adore the Blessed Sacrament, receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and process down the main street leading to St. Peter’s Basilica in a candlelight vigil.

The weekend will finish with a Mass presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday morning.

But the Gospel of Life weekend is not all the pontifical council has planned for the Year of Faith, which will finish on Nov. 24, 2013.

Another international event is planned for the Feast of Corpus Christi on June 2. The celebration is being designed so that as many people as possible can participate, even if they cannot be present in Rome.

Pope Francis will lead an hour of Eucharistic Adoration at 5:00 p.m. Rome time in St. Peter’s Basilica. Each bishop around the world is also being invited to simultaneously preside over a Holy Hour for the feast.

Between July 4 and 7, seminarians, novices and those discerning their vocation are being invited to attend a gathering that gives them the chance to pray in front of St. Peter’s tomb and experience the universal nature of the Church.

Looking ahead to the fall, Fr. Sylva highlighted the “wonderful” events the council has planned for catechists, families and a celebration of Mary.  ( David Uebbing/CNA/EWTN News)

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