After Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world today by announce he will retire from his position as the head of the Catholic Church, leading pro-life advocates are praising him for his dedication to pro-life issues.
The Catholic Church and Pope Benedict are, naturally, pro-life, but these leaders were elated that he never failed to press pro-life issues in terms of their importance and elevated status over any other political issues facing the world.
Americans United for Life President Charmaine Yoest honored the Pope’s contribution to building the culture of life, commenting, “Pope Benedict XVI throughout his life has consistently taught the modern world that genuine progress for humankind cannot take place without a renewed and radical commitment to the dignity of each human life. The Pope’s contribution to defending the unborn and his support of rights of conscience transcend any particular religion and creed because these are basic human rights.”
She said he advanced understanding of the importance of a defense of life to society.
Writing in the papal encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), he said: ‘Openness to life is at the center of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man’s true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fiber and makes people capable of mutual help.’
Following the death of Pope John Paul II, the College of Cardinals elected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope in 2005, who then took the name of Pope Benedict XVI. His legacy has been one which emphasized the issue of life and exhorted the Church to love. He stated, “Nothing we do to defend the human person, no matter how small, is ever unfruitful or forgotten. Our actions touch other lives and move other hearts in ways we can never fully understand in this world.”
Yoest added: “We are saddened that the Pontiff’s declining health has led to his conscientious decision to resign his ministry as Bishop of Rome. He has been a source of inspiration to men and women of good will around the world.”
Father Shenan J. Boquet, president of Human Life International, said “Human Life International joins the universal Church in praying for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.”
“The suddenness of His Holiness’ announcement is cause for concern for his health, as it seems to have caught almost everyone by surprise; though our concern is more than matched by our gratitude for Pope Benedict’s many wonderful gifts to the Church as Holy Father, bishop and priest. His three wonderful encyclicals, his many apostolic letters and addresses have all helped to guide the Church through a difficult period. His unflinching defense of Church teaching and the most fundamental rights of every human person have inspired our missionaries around the world,” he said.
“So in prayer and gratitude we lift up our Holy Father and the Church he has served, asking the Holy Spirit to guide the cardinals of the Church in their task of choosing Pope Benedict’s successor,” he said.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, told LifeNews, “We are, of course, all surprised today by the announcement of the Pope that he will resign at the end of the month. Popes have the authority to do this, of course, though it has rarely been exercised.”
“We view the Pope’s action here in a positive light, as an expression of his concern and love for the Church. He wants the Church to have a Pope who can fulfill his role with the strength and vigor that the office requires,” he said.
“My own interactions with Pope Benedict have been in the arena of his defense of human life, and we at Priests for Life thank him in particular for the ways in which he has continued to announce and implement the Church’s pro-life teachings,” Pavone added.
Leading Catholic pro-life advocate Deal W. Hudson also responded in an email to LifeNews.
“The resignation of Benedict XVI after nearly eight years as the spiritual leader of the world’s billion plus Catholics ends an era of reform and restoration in the Church that began in November 1978 with the election of John Paul II,” he said.
“That Benedict XVI allowed retired Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, a powerful broker of the liberalization following Vatican II, to be stripped of all his archdiocesan duties is symbolic of the changes brought about in the last 35 years under John Paul II and Benedict XVI,” he said. “The cardinals at the upcoming conclave will be faced with the choice of whether to continue the direction marked out by the last two pontiffs. Catholics will pray in gratitude for the leadership of Benedict XVI and for God’s guidance to those who will gather at St. Peter’s to send up the ‘white smoke’ announcing their choice.”
The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children thanked His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for linking the protection of human life with the defense of marriage.
John Smeaton, SPUC’s director, commented: “On behalf of SPUC, I wish to express our gratitude to Pope Benedict for the many times in which he linked the protection of human life with defending the family based on authentic marriage and with the proper use of sexuality. For example, in November 2010 he referred to ‘[m]arriage in which a man and a woman form a family which generously accepts life and accompanies it from conception until natural end.’ And in 2008 he linked ‘concern for human life’ with ‘responsible conjugal love’, in a statement marking the 40th anniversary of ‘Humanae Vitae’, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical against contraception. Pope Benedict’s statements were wake-up calls to the whole pro-life movement to campaign against same-sex marriage and similar threats to the life-giving meaning of sexuality.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus chimed in, adding: “In these remaining days of his papacy, our thoughts and prayers are with Pope Benedict XVI, who has worked so hard in leading the Church, and has always been such a good friend to the Knights of Columbus. We wish him all the best in his retirement. In addition, we pray for all those cardinals who will take part in the conclave, and for his successor, that God may inspire them as they carry out the mission with which they are entrusted.”
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Teresa Tomeo, award-winning Catholic reporter, syndicated talk show host, also commented on the recent news of Pope Benedict XVI resigning due to poor health.
Tomeo, who has spent her professional life in the media and is an expert in engaging the culture through the media, was chosen as one of 250 delegates from around the world to attend the Vatican Women’s Congress held in 2008 in Rome marking the 20th Anniversary of Blessed John Paul the Second’s Letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”
Tomeo, who has attended numerous audiences with Pope Benedict, refers to Pope Benedict as ‘another media Pope’ just as Blessed John Paul the Second was. Through his brilliant World Communications Day Statements, as well as his constant example of effective use of the social media through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, Pope Benedict XVI has not only made himself more available to Catholics worldwide, but also has provided an example of how to use media wisely.