Pope Urges Pro-Life Catholics to Protect Life, Help Pregnant Moms

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pope Urges Pro-Life Catholics to Protect Life, Help Pregnant Moms

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 1, 2004

Rome, Italy (LifeNews.com) — Making an address to Catholic Italians on Pro-Life Day in the European nation, Pope John Paul II encouraged pro-life advocates there and worldwide to both protect life and help mothers who find themselves in crisis pregnancy situations.

The Pope said pro-life efforts to protect unborn children must be done "not against the mothers, but together with the mothers."

"We must not be resigned to attacks on human life, above all, abortion!" the Pope said before praying with thousands of Catholics gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope said social indicators and social outreach programs must do a better job in encouraging a culture of life. "The cultural and social context very often does not favor the family and the mission of parents," the Pope said.

He also called on government and faith-based programs to do more to help foster a society where unborn children are not viewed as a burden.

"Moreover, not a few spouses would like to have more children, but are almost constrained not to do so because of financial difficulties," the Pope said. "The assistance of public institutions, though appreciable, is often insufficient. There is a need for a more organic policy in favor of the family.

"The family nucleus, which ensues from marriage, is the fundamental cell of society," the Pope added. "Within it, as in a reassuring nest, life must always be promoted, defended and protected, and today’s Pro-Life Day reminds all of this fundamental duty."

In this mobilization in favor of human life, the Pontiff publicly expressed his "appreciation for the courageous support that the Pro-Life Movement in Italy offers this cause," and he exhorted "every ecclesial community to support its initiatives and services."

The Pope also requested prayers for families "so that, trusting in divine help, they will be committed to carry out with joy and dedication their wonderful mission to give humanity a future rich in hope."

Meanwhile, Italian bishops decried the problematic population decline currently occurring in Italy. They linked the nation’s demographic drop to egotism, a weakening sense of social commitments, and economic pressures — as well as abortion.

"Without children there is no future," the bishops said in a statement. "If there are few children, in a society of adults and elderly, the future vanishes. To whom do we pass on what we are, what in turn our parents gave us? The contrary is also true: Without a future there are no children. When the horizon becomes uncertain or risky, one perceives the diminished desire to give life, the courage to have children."

Italy’s fertility level is at 1.26 children per woman, and has been at similar levels for years. Replacement level is 2.2 children per woman.

The bishops called on government and church programs to offer greater benefits to families bearing children and to rely less on abortion as a form of birth control.

The first Pro-Life Day in Italy was celebrated in 1979.