In a speech to the nation’s Catholic bishops, Pope Francis encouraged them to remain vigilant in their opposition to abortion and he listed unborn children among those innocent people who the bishops must keep at the top of the priority list of people who deserve protection.
The pontiff lists “the innocent victim of abortion, children who die of hunger or from bombings, immigrants who drown in the search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden, the victims of terrorism, wars, violence and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature – at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters.”
“It is wrong, then, to look the other way or to remain silent,” he says.
“Ever present within each of them is life as gift and responsibility. The future freedom and dignity of our societies depends on how we face these challenges,” the Pope continues.
Father Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, told LifeNews he is encouraged by the Pope’s remarks but before the bishops and at the White House this morning.
“Anyone who was listening to the words of Pope Francis heard, as I did, very profound implications for our fight against abortion,” he said. “When the pope spoke of having an opportunity to offer ‘words of encouragement’ to lawmakers as they guide the nation in fidelity ‘to its founding principles,’ he was clearly referring to the Declaration of Independence and its guarantee, first and foremost, of the right to life.”
Pavone concluded: “And when he spoke of building a tolerant society, ‘rejecting every form of unjust discrimination,’ we can see that abortion is the ultimate injustice and discrimination against the unborn. When the pope says we must defend the rights of everyone, that clearly includes the unborn.”
In Cuba, Pope Francis on Sunday told a group of nuns, priests, bishops and seminarians to protect their “smallest” and most vulnerable members, including unborn children. CNN reports that he also said Jesus shines in the lives of hidden and ignored people, referring to those who suffer from degenerative diseases.
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Later that evening, he said, “Children aren’t loved, they’re killed before being born. The elderly are thrown away, because they don’t produce. Some countries have euthanasia. But in some others there a hidden euthanasia. The youth is thrown away because they have no job opportunities.” Additionally, he criticized prenatal testing that can detect fetal abnormalities and cause some parents to abort their babies.
As LifeNews previously reported, earlier this month, Pope Francis wrote a letter explaining that the Catholic Church will be making it easier for women who have obtained abortions to seek forgiveness from their priests.
“One of the serious problems of our time is clearly the changed relationship with respect to life. A widespread and insensitive mentality has led to the loss of the proper personal and social sensitivity to welcome new life. The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails,” the Pope wrote.
“Many others, on the other hand, although experiencing this moment as a defeat, believe that they have no other option. I think in particular of all the women who have resorted to abortion. I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision,” the Catholic Church leader wrote. “I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal. I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision.”
“What has happened is profoundly unjust; yet only understanding the truth of it can enable one not to lose hope. The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented, especially when that person approaches the Sacrament of Confession with a sincere heart in order to obtain reconciliation with the Father,” he continued.
He concluded: “For this reason too, I have decided, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, to concede to all priests for the Jubilee Year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it. May priests fulfill this great task by expressing words of genuine welcome combined with a reflection that explains the gravity of the sin committed, besides indicating a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence.”
Although some pro-abortion Catholics have argued that Pope Francis’ gesture is a sign that the Church is becoming more “progressive” on abortion, this is completely false. Pope Francis said that Christians should offer grace and mercy to post-abortive women but simultaneously stand strong against abortion.
At a meeting with Catholic bishops in South Africa, Pope Francis said, “Abortion compounds the grief of many women who now carry with them deep physical and spiritual wounds after succumbing to the pressures of a secular culture which devalues God’s gift of sexuality and the right to life of the unborn. The sacrament of reconciliation, in particular, must be rediscovered as a fundamental dimension of the life of grace.”
Additionally, in 2013, Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s pro-life stance and promised that they will never compromise on their opposition against abortion. He said, “I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or ‘modernizations’. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”