by Steven Ertelt
April 7, 2008
The Vatican (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI told participants at a weekend conference that the Catholic Church has an obligation to minister to women who have been victimized by abortion. The Pope said abortion has left millions of women physically, emotionally and spiritually wounded and Catholics must reach out to them.
The pontiff said abortion has "devastating consequences" for women, families and society.
He called abortion a "painful decision" and fretted that "so many women have had to make [the decision] alone" and that abortion leaves an "unhealed wound they carry in their souls."
He urged women who have had abortions to not feel a sense of hopelessness and despair but to open themselves to hope and healing that can come through repentance and forgiveness from God.
At the same time, Pope Benedict said Catholics have an obligation to reach out to women hurting after an abortion, saying they are "looking for peace and the possibility of recovery."
"Following the example of the divine teacher, the church always takes an interest in the concrete person," he said.
"Yes, the Gospel of love and life is also always the Gospel of mercy, offered to the real and sinful people that we are, to raise them from any failing and repair any wound," he added.
Though the Church is often criticized for simply opposing abortion, the Pope told conference participants that its pro-life stance encompasses much more than just saying, "no."
According to AFP, the Catholic leader also said, "The ethical judgment of the Church … on abortion is clear and well-known."
"They are serious offences which violate human dignity, inflict deep injustice on human and social relations and offend God himself, guarantor of conjugal peace and origin of life," Pope Benedict added.
However, "The Church has the duty to be close to these people with love and delicacy," AFP indicated.
He called abortions something that "sometimes develop in difficult and dramatic circumstances… and are a source of profound suffering for those who make such decisions."
The conference was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.