The same day that he was chosen as TIME magazine’s Person of the Year – Pope Francis exhorted North and South America to “accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age.”
Amid misinterpretations of the pontiff’s pro-life stance in the mainstream media, the Holy Father continues to affirm his unwavering belief, completely united to that of the Catholic Church, that human life is sacred from conception to natural death.
He said (emphasis added):
When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God’s People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.
Mary’s embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother’s womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.
That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.
Francis’s comments come as the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The day commemorates an event five hundred years ago, when Catholics believe that the Virgin Mary appeared to a poor young man on a hill near Mexico city and asked him to build a church in her honor. In the apparition, Mary was pregnant with Jesus, and she left her image on the young man’s tilma, which can still be viewed today in Mexico. Because the apparition occurred in Mexico, and because Mary appeared pregnant, the Catholic Church has entrusted to her protection both the Americas and the unborn. This may be why Pope Francis urged all Americans to specifically remember human life on this day.
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Members of the liberal media and even abortion rights groups like NARAL have attempted to claim the pope as one of their own, picking out phrases that can be interpreted as ambiguity towards abortion sans their larger context. But Pope Francis is undeniably a stalwart and public pro-lifer. Even before his election as pope, he criticized priests in his native country of Argentina for refusing to baptize the children of unmarried women. He has spoken out in defense of life numerous times since his election in March, and it doesn’t appear that he will be backing down any time soon.