Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The most significant theme of Evangelium Vitae is the inherent and inviolable dignity of the human person and that the life of each person then needs to be protected from harm. Life is presented as a good coming from God. This elevated view of human life is found in Scripture and in the tradition of the church. John Paul II sees human life as facing a series of threats in the contemporary world. These threats arise because many in society view human beings as being radically autonomous and having only a material existence. John Paul II does not simply oppose a few specific acts, such as abortion and euthanasia, which harm human life; rather he wants to develop a culture of life in which life is valued and sheltered from harm. In fact, John Paul II believes that human life is so valuable that even criminals should have their lives preserved whenever it is possible.

Abortion is another prominent theme and is referred to in this encyclical as a grave evil. The humanity of the unborn child is defended by references to Scripture and documents within church history. Because directly procured abortion is always wrong, the state should have laws prohibiting abortion. Moreover, abortion is not merely a private matter because it always involves an innocent human life. John Paul II does not simply condemn those who might turn to abortion; instead, he challenges individuals and organizations, including the church, to reach out to women considering abortion and assist them in their time of need.

Morality is a significant theme in this work. In fact, this encyclical is one of the most important encyclicals related to the branch of theology that deals with morality. Herein John Paul II argues that certain acts are objectively immoral, including procured abortion and active and passive euthanasia; the political authority should discourage those acts by punishing them through civil law. Furthermore, the state should not encourage abortion as a means of controlling population, pay for abortion services, or encourage the limitation of medical care to the terminally ill.