by Steven Ertelt
September 10, 2007
Vienna, Austria (LifeNews.com) — In a pilgrimage to Austria Pope Benedict XVI visited an 850-year-old shrine in the foothills of the Alps just over two hours south of the capital of this eastern European nation. The leader of the Catholic Church used the opportunity to address the issues of abortion and euthanasia.
Speaking in his native German near the region of Bavaria where he was born, the Pope appeared confident about his message despite the steady rain that poured around him.
"It was in Europe that the notion of human rights was first formulated. The fundamental human right, the presupposition of every other right, is the right to life itself," he said.
"This is true of life from the moment of conception until its natural end. Abortion, consequently, cannot be a human right – it is the very opposite," he added.
The Catholic leader acknowledged that the church and pro-life advocates must continue to help women facing problem pregnancies.
"I do not close my eyes to the difficulties and the conflicts which many women are experiencing, and I realize that the credibility of what we say also depends on what the Church herself is doing to help women in trouble," he said.
The Pope talked about the absolute truths that most of Europe is denying lately because of its rampant secularization — truth such as the destruction of life that occurs in practices like abortion and assisted suicide.
"This attitude of resignation with regard to truth lies at the heart of the crisis of the West. If truth does not exist for man, then neither can he ultimately distinguish between good and evil," the Pontiff explained.
He said abortion must never be considered a human right and looked at past atrocities such as the Jewish people killed in the Holocaust and warned that Europe should not continue down a similar road with abortion.
Pope Benedict also cited the underpopulation crisis plaguing the continent and said political leaders in various nations should encourage young couples to have children to combat its graying population.
He warned that Europe appears to be "giving up on itself."
"Europe has become child-poor: We want everything for ourselves and place little trust in the future," he said.
Benedict said he was speaking out "for those unborn children who have no voice."
He also urged more and better care for the elderly and disabled and blasted "actively assisted death," as a terrible means of ridding the world of those whom society no longer wants to provide care.
"The proper response to end-of-life suffering is loving care and accompaniment on the journey towards death – especially with the help of palliative care," the Pontiff explained. "Many other people need to be prepared or encouraged in their willingness to spare neither time nor expense in loving care for the gravely ill and dying."