Today we had the autumn Conference of the Association of Priests for the Gospel of Life (APGL). Fr John Saward spoke about Pius XII and preaching the Gospel of Life. A former Anglican clergyman, Fr Saward was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2003 and has had a distinguished academic career.
Father examined Pope Pius XII's defence of the sanctity of human life and the way in which he anticipated and provided the groundwork for much of the magisterial teaching of his successors. The hermeneutic of continuity (the concept, not the blog) was a key to understanding this teaching. Of particular interest was his reference to Pius XII's insistence on the ordering of the ends of marriage - something that will be worth looking up in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis - and his observations on the Acts of the Second Vatican Council relating to the relevant passage of Gaudium et Spes.
In the second part of his talk, Fr Saward examined the teaching of Pope Pius XII on fatherhood and the way in which the spiritual fatherhood of the priest complements the natural fatherhood within the family. Fr Saward's was quite brilliant and we hope to publish it in due course as part of a collection of papers given to the APGL.
After lunch, I gave a short spiritual reflection. I spoke about the importance of pro-life preaching and therefore (in order for this preaching to be authentic) of the importance of the priest bringing the sanctity of human life into his own prayer and meditation. As an example of this, I offered some thoughts on the first three joyful mysteries of the Rosary, especially drawing from Fr Faber's reflection on Mary's pregnancy in his hymn "Like the Dawning of the Morning." We concluded with Rosary and Benediction in the Little Oratory, led by Fr Marcus Holden.
As ever, it was good to spend time in the company of faithful and hard-working priests who are committed to preaching and living the Gospel of Life in a country that has done so much to promote the culture of death.