Newly-elected Pope Francis used his second-ever blessing as the head of the Catholic Church to bless a pregnant mother and her unborn child.
The blessing a symbolic overture to the pro-life movement and underscores the importance the Catholic Church places on protecting women and unborn children from abortion.
During his first morning as Pope, Pope Francis, who as been hailed by pro-life advocates, prayed for nearly 30 minutes at the altar of Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major. Before leaving, he greeted a married couple and gave his blessing to a woman who is five months pregnant.
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The new Pope once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.
In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”
The National Right to Life Committee welcomed the election of Pope Francis to succeed Benedict XVI, who resigned the papacy February 28.
“National Right to Life welcomes the election of Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio as Pope Francis. As Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI before him, we look forward to Pope Francis furthering the cause of life around the world,” NRLC president Carol Tobias said.