European campaign seeks to protect embryo

2013-05-13 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A European grassroots initiative, aimed at advancing the protection of the human embryo, has received the endorsement of the Pope. During his Regina Caeli message on Sunday, Pope Francis urged his listeners to sign the “One of Us” petition currently in Italian parishes.

Francesca Baldini, a spokesperson with the “One of Us” campaign in Italy, said organization of the campaign began in May 2012, after an audience with Benedict XVI.

But the push for petitions only began this month. Baldini said it will run until 1 November, when organizers hope to present one million signatures to the European Commission.

“One of Us” wants the EU to stop financing activities that involve the destruction of human embryos, in particular in the areas of research, development aid and public health. This would require the EU to change its financial regulations that determine spending in the EU budget.

However, a minimum of one million signatures from EU citizens from at least seven of the 27 member states is required for the EC to debate and then act on such policy changes. Petitions are currently being gathered in all 27 member states.

Members of the “One of Us” campaign were at Sunday’s March for Life in Rome, which Pope Francis joined for a few moments. Following his Regina Caeli message, he surprised the 40,000 marchers when he was driven in his popemobile to the end of the Via Conciliazione to the square, where they had gathered.

“One of Us” is a non-denominational European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). The ECI is an instrument of participative democracy, which was introduced in the EU with the Treaty of Lisbon in 2009. The ECI gives citizens the right to call directly upon the European Commission to propose legislation on matters where the EU has competence to legislate.

The "One of Us" petition can also be signed online at www.oneofus.eu.

Listen to the report by Laura Ieraci: