We call upon all people of good will to listen to the call of the Mother of God and to join with great love and devotion the defense of the civilization of life and love, which is under serious threat globally.
So reads, in part, the “Universal Declaration in Defense of the Civilization of Life—Mexico 2016” , a landmark statement from a collection of Catholic and Orthodox pro-life organizations from around the world. Released on Divine Mercy Sunday during what Pope Francis has designated as the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the statement is both a resounding indictment of secular cultures where innocent life is under attack, and an expression of hope in the mother of God as intercessor for faithful who are doing everything in their power to defeat the Culture of Death.
“As we continue to fight for life and family, we must place our trust entirely in God and His divine mercy,” said Lech Kowalewski, who collaborated in the writing of the Declaration. “The only substantial change in cultures where the Culture of Death had reigned has come where the people turned explicitly to the Theotokos, the Mother of God, and asked for her help and intercession with her Son.”
Kowalewski refers to historical examples, also referenced in the Declaration, of the defeat of Communism that began in Poland after the visit of Saint Pope John Paul II, and the conversion of barbarous pagan cultures in Mexico that followed the apparition of Guadalupe. In Poland, the Solidarity Movement regularly invoked the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa in their peaceful and victorious rebellion against Communist occupation. Nearly five centuries earlier, an apparition witnessed by a poor Indian peasant named Juan Diego was the occasion for the appearance of a miraculous image, Our Lady of Guadalupe, leading to the conversion of millions throughout Mexico in only a few years.
“This is why Ewa and I reached out to friends from around the world several years ago, and together we came up with the idea for the From Ocean to Ocean Campaign in Defense of Life,” added Kowalewski. “The ancient Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle, and this tradition was renewed by Christians who brought traditional images of the Mother of God, the new Ark of the Covenant, into battle as well. With the level of moral and social decay we see around the world, it is time for a miracle again, and Our Lady has delivered in the past as she points all the faithful to her Son, Jesus Christ.”
The From Ocean to Ocean Campaign, in which an Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa is carried throughout nations by the faithful, currently continues in Mexico, where she has visited 140 communities since November 2014. Since it began in Vladivostok, Russia in 2012, the pilgrim Icon of Czestochowa has traveled over 103,000 miles through 27 nations, and has been seen by over 5 million people.
“It has been a tremendous blessing to see our Mexican brothers and sisters in the faith embrace the Mother of God under her Czestochowa Icon, as the miraculous Icon of Guadalupe remains so central to Mexican culture,” said Ewa Kowalewska, who wrote the Universal Declaration in collaboration with her husband and with Beatriz Gonzalez, coordinator of the Campaign in Mexico. “When this campaign began in Vladivostok over four years ago, we could not have foreseen all of her travels and the wonderful effects where she has visited.”
The Universal Declaration was initiated in Mexico. It was presented and read at a Holy Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrated by the bishop of Valle del Chalco, Víctor René Rodríguez Gómez. The Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa has been hosted at the Sanctuary of Mercy Shrine in Tenango del Aire, which is in the same diocese and has been the “home base” for the Ocean to Ocean Campaign as it has proceeded throughout Mexico. The Declaration was also presented on April 2nd in Czestochowa, Poland, at the monastery that hosts the traditional icon.
“So many people have lost hope as they look around at sky high abortion rates, the embrace of euthanasia, terrorism and other attacks on vulnerable lives in modern societies,” added Kowalewska. “But such despair is not an option. Our hope amid such chaos comes from the Lord, who has defeated sin and death, and whose mother calls us again to turn to Him if we are to see a victory against this Culture of Death.”
The Declaration will be published in Polish, English, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Czech, Slovak and more languages.
When asked what they expect the Universal Declaration to accomplish, the Kowalewskis point to past victories for life and faith when the Church places all its trust in God and asks for the intercession of the Mother of Jesus.
“God’s plans are so much better, more complicated, more beautiful than our own. Yet He has shown again and again that His Mercy is without bounds, that those who repent and turn to Him can see victory even in the darkest of times. He has chosen the Mother of Jesus many times as His means of reaching proud hearted people who have given up hope, but who recognize in her maternal love the Hope of Christ Our Savior. There is always hope. We do not tell God what to do, we try our best to listen to Him and follow without fear. History and faith tell us that He is our only hope. We have to act like we believe this.”