In spontaneous remarks to thousands of listeners at the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned abortion by comparing the practice to a targeted assassination.
“Is it right to hire a hit man to solve a problem?” the Pope asked. “You cannot, it is not right to kill a human being, regardless of how small it is, to solve a problem. [Abortion] is like hiring a hit man to solve a problem,” he stated.
Conservative Catholics had criticized the Pope for his reticence on abortion and other controversial topics. Observers considered Pope Francis’ latest pro-life remarks to be “some of his toughest to date.”
The Pope delivered his address at St. Peter’s Square during his weekly general audience, an occasion which attracted tens of thousands of spectators. Many in the crowd responded favorably to Pope Francis’ statements on abortion.
“I ask you: Is it right to ‘take out’ a human life to solve a problem? What do you think? Is it right? Is it right or not?” he asked. “No,” shouted the crowd.
“[H]ow can an act that suppresses an innocent and helpless life that is germinating be therapeutic, civilized or even simply human?” the Pope continued.
Catholic doctrine holds that life begins at conception and terminates at natural death. In previous interviews with news agencies, the Pope had focused his remarks on social issues such as inequality and immigration, stating that the Catholic Church had become “obsessed” with the debate surrounding abortion and traditional marriage. He had never questioned the Church’s teaching on abortion, however, and his latest comments confirm his commitment to pro-life values.
In a major victory for the pro-life movement in Argentina, Pope Francis’ home country has refused to legalize elective abortion, reports CNN. The Argentine Senate voted down a bill which would have enabled women to abort their babies in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The measure failed by a seven-vote margin, 38 to 31.
The public announcement of the vote sparked celebrations by pro-life demonstrators, who launched fireworks outside of Argentina’s National Congress building in Buenos Aires. Crowds of people donned blue, a color which symbolizes Argentina’s “save both lives” movement, and cheered when they heard the Senate’s official verdict.
In the aftermath of the announcement, some pro-abortion protesters clashed with police, who detained at least eight people. Demonstrators lobbed rocks and bottles at security forces, who attempted to quell the unrest with tear gas and water cannons.
The abortion bill had narrowly passed through Argentina’s lower house in June, and lawmakers expected the measure to face even greater opposition in the more conservative Senate. The weekend before the vote, a senator from Argentina’s opposition party withdrew her endorsement of the bill.
During the Senate debate, the Catholic Church conducted a “Mass for Life” in Buenos Aires, while pro-abortion demonstrators rallied in front of the Congress building.
Conservative lawmaker Marta Varela highlighted Argentina’s robust pro-life movement while addressing her colleagues in the Senate. “Today I feel like never before that I’m part of a wide sector of our people who defend life in general, from the moment of conception and until death,” she stated.
In March, as proceedings on the abortion bill began, Pope Francis had urged his homeland to “make a contribution in defense of life and justice.” Thanks to the integrity of Argentina’s pro-life senators, the country has done just that.
In a statement confirmed by the Vatican, Pope Francis denounced abortions of unborn children with congenital defects, reports CNN. The Pope compared the practice to Nazi eugenics.
“I have heard that it’s fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let’s send it away,” Pope Francis stated. “I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.”
In their quest to create a pure Aryan race, the Nazis compelled individuals with physical and mental illnesses to undergo sterilization, and terminated fetuses deemed weak or unhealthy. The modern world condemns such practices in hindsight, yet does not feel repulsed by infanticide today, noted the Pope.
Pope Francis expressed his opinions on abortion during a meeting with a delegation of Italy’s Family Association in Rome. While the Pope did not prepare his comments beforehand, they were verified by Vatican officials after the interview.
During the meeting, Pope Francis also spoke about his views concerning marriage, which consists of a union between one man and one woman. That union reflects God’s image, according to the Pope.
“Today it is hard to say this, we speak of ‘diversified’ families: different types of families. . . . But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one,” the Pope asserted.
Pope Francis spoke just days after Argentina, his home country, voted on a measure to legalize abortion as early as 14 weeks of pregnancy. Pro-life advocates must hope that Argentinian lawmakers remain responsive to the Pope’s spiritual authority.
The office in charge of Pope Francis’ acts of charity announced the opening of a laundromat for Rome’s poor and homeless. Dubbed the “Lavenderia di Papa Francesco” (“Pope Francis Laundry”) this service was inspired by the pope’s call for “concrete signs of mercy” during the Year of Mercy in 2016.
“Here, then, is…a place and service to give a concrete form of charity and mercy to restore dignity to so many people who are our brothers and sisters,” said the Papal Almoner’s office.
The laundromat will be located in a complex run by the Rome-based Community of Sant’Egidio, which provides other services for the poor such as showers, a medical clinic, and a barber shop. Whirlpool Corporation donated the new washers and dryers and Procter & Gamble will donate free supplies of detergent and fabric softener, according to the Papal Almoner.
On Friday, Pope Francis visited a neonatal unit and a hospice for the terminally ill in Rome as part of the year of mercy.
Throughout the year, Pope Francis has been visiting various groups as part of the “Mercy Friday” initiatives.
This month, the pope visited the San Giovanni hospital and stopped by the emergency room and neonatal unit where he spent time with the 12 babies the unit. The pope spoke to the babies in each incubator and shared messages of comfort with the parents.
Following the visit to the neonatal unit, Pope Francis visited the Villa Speranza Hospice which houses 30 terminally ill patients. The pope spoke with each patient as well as their families.
Through the visits, the pope hoped to highlight the dignity of life from conception to natural death.
“The Holy Father wanted to give a strong sign of the importance of life, from its first moment to its natural end,” the Vatican said in a statement, “The acceptance of life and the guarantee of human dignity at all stages of development are lessons repeatedly stressed by Pope Francis.”
In past months, the pope has visited a home for the elderly, an addiction rehab center, and a home for retired priests.