Skip to content

Defending Humans From the Start (Part 2)

Interview With Vice President of Academy for Life

ROME, MARCH 29, 2006 (Zenit) - Benedict XVI's first encyclical emphasizes that the life that comes from God is a direct consequence of his love, says the new vice president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. Monsignor Jean Laffitte, formerly undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, speaks in this interview with us about the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" and how it touches on the link between love and life.

Part 1 of this interview appeared Sunday on Catholic Online.

Q: Today, in a world in which science virtually enables us to order a child a la carte, life becomes an object of consumption. What does Benedict XVI propose to us in his first encyclical?

Monsignor Laffitte: If one perceives human life as a wealth, one does not need to ask the origin of this wealth that precedes us. Therefore, we address a complementary aspect very much connected to the topic of the encyclical: the relationship between a human life and the author of human life. God, who is the Creator of every life, is at the same time the source of all charity and love.

There is also a very close nexus between life and love; in principle, because life itself is a consequence of God's love; it is a gift, but also because human life acquires all its meaning in a perspective of love.

Man is made to love the One who created him. He is made to love others, his neighbor; he develops in love, he realizes all his potential in love and considers with admiration the whole of creation, exercising on it a type of lordship, subordinated of course to the divine Lordship.

But all this cannot be done except in respect for nature and in a spirit of service to one's fellow men, which assumes that he is animated by love.

This encyclical invites us to be aware that God is really love; the life that comes from him is a direct consequence of that love. This totally changes our outlook on human existence and its end, on the end of life, on what animates us, on our profound intentions and on the way in which we exercise our activity.

The encyclical draws our attention to the fact that life is within God, life is communion, it is love. In God, life and love coincide because divine love makes one exist; it is a love that leads to the existence of beings that did not exist before.

It is not only an act of material causality. It is, formally, an act of love that makes others exist.

Q: How can the sense of the beauty of life be rediscovered when it has been lost?

Monsignor Laffitte: We must identify the reasons that lead to the alteration or loss of meaning.

At times there are reasons linked to the gravity of personal moral choices that, wounding the soul, darken one's outlook on life and no longer allow one to recognize its precious character.

Here a moral analysis could be made of this de facto state. More generally, there are also obvious reasons connected to suffering, trial, or injustice suffered.

There are circumstances in people's lives in which, without responsibility on their part, they must face an objective difficulty to perceive the beauty of life.

To understand them, we must admit that these situations exist. Moreover, this experience of opacity of the beauty of life can come to every one.

Every one might have to face in a moment of his life either the sickness of a loved one, the death of a close person; the effects of the sickness can hide from their eyes the beauty of life.

In these situations, the perception of the beauty of life takes place through a process similar to that of faith. We believe and adhere to the beauty of life, in the same way that believers adhere to the beauty of God without seeing it. We do not see God but we know that his beauty is real.

It is very rare for a person never to have reflected on the beauty of life. But there are situations in which the difficult and painful manifestations of certain ailments, of very serious sicknesses, of men's injustice, or of any other circumstance, can rob from existence what gives it its attraction in normal life.

The problem must not be considered in an isolated way. No one can face a personal misery, an illness, a profound sorrow, in solitude. Man is not a monad. He is in constant relationship with many other people, who are more or less close.

Without pretending that the love of life perceived in others by a person who is suffering make the latter's life immediately easier, at least this gives him a vision of existence that is not reduced to the precariousness of his own situation.

Obviously, this is not an effort to ask of the person who is suffering, but a call to the people who are happier. Respect for the life of those who are suffering is a necessary condition so that the latter will perceive something of the beauty of life.

When a tested person receives help, loving attention, he will no longer identity life with his suffering because, in his life, he will not simply have suffering, but will also have the act of love he has received.

It is necessary to consider that, in the area of life, questions never present themselves in an abstract way, but concretely: Every person is involved in relations or situations in which he can exercise this charity with his neighbor to which the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" invites us.

From it one gleans what is at the center of all human existence, those fundamental needs profoundly engraved in man's heart; among them, in the first place, the desire to love and to be loved.

There are also other essential desires, such as that of being useful. However, the desire to be loved seems to be the most deeply rooted.

One of the original and important contributions of the encyclical is to show the primordial importance of being able to receive love. Love is not only the unilateral movement of someone who gives and gives himself. It is also the movement of someone who, giving himself, is able to receive another love that sometimes precedes it.

In relation to God, on the other hand, this occurs always. We are always preceded in our love by God, by the love we receive from him.

Present in the encyclical is the intention to show this double movement of love, a unified movement that establishes a true communion between the two terms.

The encyclical honors this dimension often forgotten in the arbitrary focuses or very partial approaches of charity, or partial and often spiritualist focuses, where it is imagined that love is simply the fact of giving.

Love, in its full and perfect expression, is also reception and much virtue is necessary to know how to receive and appreciate love from others because it is a gift of God, a gift of the grace of God.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Life, Human, Laffitte

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.