In August of 1995, Niamh Nic Mhathuna and John Heaney of Youth Defence received an invitation to attend the private Mass celebrated by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in Castelgandolfo in Rome. After Mass the Holy Father spoke to Niamh and John and stressed the importance of Youth Defence's pro-life work.
He spoke of the "young people of Ireland" and of his love and affection for them and urged Youth Defence to "Continue in your apostolate and be courageous." He also warned that "Ireland was under attack" and gave Youth Defence a special message for their work in defence of life.
Youth Defence draw inspiration from these words of love and encouragement given on such a momentous occasion. St John Paul II was a courageous, consistent and unfailing leader in defence of our unborn brothers and sisters. His encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, is a re-affirmation of our duty to speak and act for the defenceless child in the womb.
"Continue in your apostolate and be courageous."
Youth Defence will continue in our apostolate for the right to life of each and every mother and baby.
Following this tremendous event, Niamh and John met with Padre Cristiano-Mario Charlot, the Secretary of the Pontifical Academy for Life, who said in his letter of recommendation "that it is God's will to give effective daily help to Youth Defence in its good and just combat for the full defence of the lives of our brothers and sisters as they come to birth."
To Miss Niamh Nic Mhathuna
To Mr. John Heaney
Dear Miss Niamh Nic Mhathuna and Mr. John Heaney
After the eminent encouragement given to you by the Holy Father this morning at Castelgandolfo during the conversation he had with you immediately after his Private Mass, to which he admitted you as representing your association "Youth Defence" - I am happy to be able to give you also my personal encouragement in your activity.
I too express the hope and the Christian certainty that it is God's will to give effective, daily help to Youth Defence (and to Irish Catholics who I hope will support Youth Defence in ever increasing numbers) in its good and just combat for the full defence of the lives of our brothers and sisters as they come to birth, and so to give speedy assurance to Ireland of complete victory over the forces of evil and barbarism that are promoting the destruction of life and of justice and the splitting-up of the family unit, and with that victory to obtain the first concrete, public reaffirmation of the universal and eternal principles of natural law, which through all ages constitute the foundation and the criterion of the morality and legitimacy of all positive law and regulations, both within the States and between them.
While renewing my encouragement, and expecting to meet with you soon again in Rome, I am happy to say that I am at the disposition of Youth Defence to help it in any way that may be wished, in its courageous work of promoting a genuine culture of life ("cultura della vita") such as has been once again solemnly proclaimed by the Holy Father in the encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
Padre Cristiano Maria Charlot
A Letter from the Chairwoman
On August 4th John Heaney and I had the honour of meeting with His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, in private audience in Castlegondolfo in Rome. The Holy Father is admired by pro-lifers worldwide for his courageous and consistent defence of our unborn brothers and sisters. It was therefore a great privilege for me and for Youth Defence to attend the Holy Father's private Mass in his summer residence and to meet with him on your behalf afterwards.
It was a very special moment for Youth Defence. It was the most inspiring moment of my life, when I was given these beautiful words to give, in solidarity, to you, "Continue in your apostolate and be courageous." I say to you because the Holy Father's words are for you and me, for all of us who care for the least of God's little ones. Evangelium Vitae, John Paul's encyclical on the value and inviolability of Human Life reminds us that "the Gospel of Life is for the whole of human society" and urges us to face "the inescapable responsibility of being unconditionally pro-life."
"Continue in your apostolate" - these words are not only a blessing, they are a challenge. To Youth Defence. And to you. The children need us now more then ever. We cannot fail the Holy Father. We cannot fail them. We must work and strive and pray. We must continue our apostolate.Together.
Yours for Life