Pope Francis encouraged Christians in Poland to keep standing strong for life Wednesday as violent pro-abortion protesters continue to riot across the country.
Catholic News Agency reports the pope said he is praying that the people of Poland will recognize the value of all human beings, including the “most fragile and defenseless.”
“Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and the holy Polish pontiff [St. John Paul II], I ask God to inspire in the hearts of all respect for the life of our brothers, especially of the most fragile and defenseless, and to give strength to those who welcome it and take it care, even when it requires heroic love,” Pope Francis said.
Abortion activists have been rioting across Poland ever since the nation’s high court issued a ruling last week that protects unborn babies with disabilities from abortions. Authorities have arrested at least 76 people for disrupting church services and vandalizing church buildings during the protests, the AP reports.
Catholic leaders both in and outside the country have been calling for peace in the midst of the unrest.
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Speaking of St. John Paul II, Pope Francis said the Polish saint “always appealed for a privileged love for the least and the defenseless, and for the protection of every human being from conception until natural death,” according to CNA.
He encouraged Christians to remember that Jesus prays with them and is never distant.
Poland is one of the few countries in Europe that protects unborn babies from abortions in almost all cases.
On Oct. 22, Poland’s constitutional court struck down one of the few exceptions allowed in its 1993 abortion law – abortions on unborn babies with disabilities. The justices ruled that the exception violates the constitution because it discriminates against human beings with disabilities.
Poland still allows abortions in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life.
Pro-life and political leaders celebrated the news as a huge victory for the rights of unborn babies.
“One cannot kill a child for being sick. This is not a fetus, it is a child,” MP Maria Kurowska, of United Poland, told Reuters.
Mikolaj Pawlak, the commissioner for child rights in Poland, also celebrated the ruling.
“The decision of the Constitutional Court declaring eugenic abortion incompatible with the constitution is a victory of life over death,” Pawlak said. “It is a restoration of equal rights for every human being, including those who have not yet been born.”
The ruling could save thousands of babies’ lives. Polish health officials reported 1,100 abortions in 2019, according to the report.
Protests began soon after the ruling was announced, and pro-abortion feminist groups said they are planning more protests for the coming weeks.
Last week, the BBC reported police arrested 15 pro-abortion protesters after they began throwing stones in Warsaw. The report, along with others from NBC News and the AP, indicate several rioters also were arrested for trying to break through a police blockade outside the home of Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is pro-life. Reports say police used pepper spray to quell the rioters.
Abortion activists also broke coronavirus restrictions in Warsaw. The city has a 10-person limit on gatherings, and city police said they fined 35 people for breaking the restriction, the Independent reports.
On Sunday, The Daily Mail reports pro-abortion rioters vandalized churches in several cities across the country. According to AFP, police also detained several pro-abortion protesters for trying to force their way into a church in Warsaw.
In the city of Poznan, dozens of pro-abortion protesters did break into a church and disrupt a service, shouting, “We’ve had enough!” and “Barbarians!” as they held signs up in front of the altar, the Mail reports.