by Steven Ertelt
February 21, 2006
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — The Pope welcomed Italy’s main pro-life organization during a visit to The Vatican to celebrate the nation’s "Day of Life" in opposition to oppose and euthanasia. The group attended Pope Benedict’s weekly blessing on Sunday and was honored for its work in the European nation.
Members of Italy‘s Movement for Life waved balloons and cheered as they listened to the pope in St. Peter‘s Square during the annual celebration of life.
Pope Benedict told the group that selfishness and hedonism threaten the sanctity of life in the world today.
The pontiff’s support comes at a time when abortion is a leading issue in political debate in Italy. The nation is heading towards elections in April and pro-abortion groups are unhappy that the Catholic Church is urging parishioners to support candidates who are pro-life.
Part of the debate centers on the dangerous abortion drug RU 486, which is responsible for the deaths of eight women worldwide and injuring over 850 women in the United States alone.
Health Minister Francesco Storace, of the right-wing National Alliance party, opposes making the drug legal in Italy. He also wants the government to allow pro-life groups to help with counseling women considering abortion and providing them with alternatives.
"Every human life in itself always deserves to be defended and encouraged," Benedict told the crowd from his Vatican apartment window. He reminded those attending of the Catholic Church’s longstanding opposition to both abortion and euthanasia.
"We well know that this truth risks being contradicted by the widespread hedonism in so-called well-off societies: life is celebrated as long as its pleasant, but tends to be no longer respected when it‘s sick or impaired," he said.
The Italian elections are April 9-10 and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi faces a challenge by leftist parties fronted by former European Commission President Romano Prodi.