Mumbai (July 26, 2018. AsiaNews) – We report the address the Archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, delivered today to 300 priests at the diocesan seminary on the occasion of Clergy Day.

In it, the cardinal noted the importance of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, issued 50 years ago, on 29 July 1968. He also urged priests to be «open to life» and help couples prepare «to embrace the sacred call to a sacramental marriage».

The meeting marked the start of the new ecclesiastical year since it follows the announcements in June of the priests’ transfers .

Humanae Vitae is a great gift to the Church. It proclaims the inalienable and inviolable Christian values ​​of life, marriage and the family. Fifty years ago, by issuing his encyclical Humanae vitae, Blessed Paul VI reaffirmed these timeless truths.

The encyclical is a great gift to everyone. Be open to life. Be open to life, be pioneers of the new civilisation of love. We should invest more in marriage preparation, prepare couples for marriage and enrich the marriages of those already married. There are many couples who seek the truth about what the Church teaches and they embrace the sacred call to sacramental marriage.

There is a total integration between the encyclicals of the Vicars of Christ: Humanae Vitae was followed by the Theology of the Body and Deus Caritas Est and also from Amoris Laetetia and the last one, Gaudete et Exsultate. All these encyclicals explain «holiness» in every field of life, which guides the new evangelisation, the challenges of India, the world and the universal Church.

Pope Paul VI visited India in 1964 for the Eucharistic Congress. In 2015, I was personally invited by his family and the Diocese of Brescia. His family took me to his home in Brescia. I visited the home of Blessed Paul VI. It was very moving to be in the abode of this great prophet of our times. I celebrated Mass for the diocese on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (14 September 2015).

Being in the home and in the diocese of the Blessed Paul VI was a link, an integration between the Church in India and the universal Church. I was in the home and in the diocese of those who courageously proclaimed the true and authentic meaning of married love in Humanae Vitae.

Today I see the consequences of diminishing respect for men for women and the breaking of healthy family relationships. Therefore, be open to life, through our service to the poorest of the poor, to those in our urban ghettoes, to families struggling with alcoholism and joblessness, to the destitute and the abandoned.

Be open to life and serve to give dignity to every human life, protect the unborn and the elderly, the victims of trafficking in human beings, the lonely and the migrants, girls and women.

The Catholic Church, in the archdiocese of Mumbai and India, stands unwavering and firm in her decision to embrace and uphold life, as well as embrace, nurture, defend and uplift the gift of life, every life.

August 3rd, the first Friday of the month, is the day before Saint Jean-Marie Maria Vianney. I invite you to spend an hour in personal adoration, prayerfully reflecting upon this encyclical, Humanae Vitae, and be open to life.