by Steven Ertelt
May 8, 2007
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI is making his first trip to Latin America, home to more than half of the world’s Catholics. While he’s there, he will meet with Brazil’s President Luiz Incio Lula da Silva to discuss social issues including abortion — especially since pro-abortion activists have been trying to legalize abortion there.
Abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or to save the pregnant woman’s life.
The Pope will arrive in Brazil on Wednesday for a five-day visit and he has changed his schedule in the last few days so he might have more time to prepare the speeches he will make there.
The Brazilian president is scheduled to meet with the Pontiff twice in São Paulo.
"I’m interested in discussing the social policies that we’re implementing in Brazil so that (the Pope), as the most important person in the Catholic Church, can help disseminate these good policies around the world," Lula said in his weekly radio address.
The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone confirmed that the pontiff would be speaking about abortion during the visit and abortion advocates have promised to protest his events.
They want Lula and the nation’s government to challenge the Pope on Catholic teaching.
Polls conducted among Brazilians have shown that many people would reject abortion if a referendum on the issue were held, but abortion advocates believe the procedure eventually will be legalized because the church is losing influence in the country.
Dulce Xavier of "Catholics" for Free Choice told Reuters that there is a "huge gap" in Brazil "between what Catholics think about reproductive health and the rules the church hierarchy defends."
Pro-life advocate sin Brazil welcome the Catholic leader’s visit and are worried that pro-abortion groups are going to make Brazil the next place to legalize abortion after Portugal and Mexico City signed off on bills to do so.
Luiz Bassuma, head of the pro-life caucus in the Brazilian Congress, in a newspaper column said it has been "worrisome for people who believe life starts at conception."
Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics to pray for the success of his visit to what he describes as the "continent of hope" for the church.
"It’s my first pastoral visit to Latin America … where almost half the world’s Catholics live, many of them young people. This is why it’s called the ‘continent of hope,’ a hope that concerns not only the church but all America and the whole world," he said.