PCPF eng - Culture
For a New Culture of Life
Diana Castillo, Director of Gravida, tells us how Evangelium Vitae permeates the Argentine foundation for the support of maternity and unborn life with its innovative strength

This is the third testimony in preparation for the celebration for the twentieth anniversary of the Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae", scheduled for the afternoon of March 24th, at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Diana Castillo, Director of the foundation Gravida in Argentina, explains the impact that St. John Paul II‘s Encyclical has had on the structure of the pro-life association she leads.
"The pillars of our foundation explicitly refer to some of the teachings and exhortations contained in Evangelium Vitae. How could one forget, for example, that St. John Paul II invited us to be aware "with humility and gratitude […] that we are the people of life and for life; and this is how we present ourselves to everyone" (EV 78)? Or how could we not feel encouraged by his desire to build a new culture of life? Indeed, EV 95 says, "what is urgently called for is a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. All together, we must build a new culture of life: new, because it will be able to confront and solve today‘s unprecedented problems affecting human life; new, because it will be adopted with deeper and more dynamic conviction by all Christians; new, because it will be capable of bringing about a serious and courageous cultural dialogue among all parties."
Gravida, in its volunteer service to support unborn life and motherhood, referring consistently to the family ministry present in the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae and attentive of the particular context of the Church in Argentina, works with the same spirit and determination to prevent abortion and encourage care the for the life of children from conception on. Mindful of what St. John Paul II writes in EV 79, "for us, being at the service of life is not a boast but rather a duty," we offer full support to life in difficulty. In particular, we give assistance, through personalized accompaniment, in all situations where there is a risk of abortion. We have also developed a service of accompaniment for the promotion and integral development of both pregnant women and mothers at social risk, in addition to a program of post-abortion care for healing the wounds of this trauma.
Then, we worked out a program of abortion prevention, ‘Making a Choice for Life,‘ designed for teenagers and young people, and a formation program, ‘Training days for the Service to Life, for anyone who wants to join us as a volunteer.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, so dear to the author of Evangelium Vitae, has a central place in our commitment to life. Our service is in fact based on a ‘Marian spirituality of communion in action‘, a concrete spirituality that finds its main charisma in the mystery of the Visitation, and in the pedagogy of the Encounter a way of dialogue and support for the lives offered to its service, choosing thus a way of being the Church that looks to the Virgin Mary, attentive to her being and action.
Over the past two decades, Gravida has always been committed to developing a proposal inspired by the pastoral reality and in the light of Evangelium Vitae, so that today our foundation is presented in the Church of Argentina as a real strategy of the People of God, offered in the context of the Church‘s pastoral response to threats against human life. Our action is concrete, attentive to reality, and in dialogue with society; it aims at stimulating pastoral life, first of all within the church communities. For, as St. John Paul II teaches, "we need to begin with the renewal of a culture of life within Christian communities themselves" (EV 95).

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