When it comes to challenging Catholics to protect life from abortion, Pope Francis has taken an active but sometimes subtle approach to helping unborn babies and their mothers.
Whether by extending forgiveness of abortion during the year of jubilee or by pledging to baptize a baby himself after the baby’s mother rejected abortion, his actions have demonstrated compassion without compromise for the born and unborn.
Richard Doerflinger, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the pontiff’s humble, compassionate approach to the contentious issue of abortion is one that Catholics should pay close attention to.
“The Holy Father has made some tremendous statements on the sanctity of human life,” Doerflinger told Crux. “Very often he takes a more casual approach, but this man is obviously a leader on pro-life concerns.”
Doerflinger emphasized that it is important that “love and respect” for the other side in abortion debates “become much more visible, permeating everything we do.”
“We’re pro-life because we’re trying to reflect the love God has for everyone,” he said. “That’s an entirely different attitude toward an issue than what you often see in the political realm.”
It is an attitude that Pope Francis demonstrated last year when he announced that during the year of jubilee in 2016 all priests would be permitted to absolved the sin of abortion, LifeNews reported previously. In the Catholic Church, abortion can result in automatic excommunication and only be forgiven by high-ranking clergy or by making a pilgrimage to Rome during a Holy Year. However, Pope Francis is sending “missionaries of mercy” all over the world to forgive and offer reconciliation to those hurting from abortion.
Although some pro-abortion Catholics have argued that Pope Francis’ gesture is a sign that the Church is becoming more “progressive” on abortion, this is completely false. As LifeNews previously reported, Pope Francis said that Christians should offer grace and mercy to post-abortive women but simultaneously stand strong against abortion.
The pontiff has clearly stated that the Catholic church will not compromise its pro-life position. In 2013, the Vatican released the text of Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), an Apostolic Exhortation by Pope Francis that specifically addresses pro-life and pro-family issues. The text of the message makes it clear that the Catholic Church cannot and will not compromise on its pro-life teachings on abortion.
Other actions also have pointed to the pope’s strong position on the life issues. Last August, the pope visited a cemetery for babies who were victims of abortion during his visit to South Korea. Though the pope did not speak publicly during the visit, his actions there demonstrated “a clear testimony of his defense of life,” said South Korean pro-lifer Jung Kwang-ryul of the Kkottongnae.
Soon after he was elected, Pope Francis offered his second blessing as pope to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. A few weeks later, he stunned the world when he made a personal phone call to a woman who was pregnant out of wedlock and encouraged her to reject abortion and see her child as “a gift from God.”