The hope of dignity: Pope’s short call a model for the pro-life community

Francis I

The story was stunning, but maybe it shouldn’t have been. Pope Francis, head of the church most known for its unwavering pro-life stance, proved that the issue of abortion is a responsibility for us all. Perhaps you have already read how this man, who surely has a full enough schedule called Ann Romano, the woman who had an affair and is pregnant out of wedlock—and exhibited the spiritual fatherhood he represents.  One story’s headline called him “A Pope Who Knows How to Pope.”

The conversation has been widely reported:

He reassured me and said a child was a gift from God, a sign of Divine Providence and that I would never be left alone. He said that as Christians we should never be afraid.

‘He told me I had been very brave and strong for my unborn child. I told him that I wanted to baptise the baby when it was born but I was afraid as I was divorced and a single mother but he said he would be my spiritual father and he would baptise my baby.

The story is notable, but it should be ordinary. As pro-lifers cry for life for the unborn, there must continue to be a cry inward to ask what role we have in assuming it is a realistic option for those facing the decision of bringing a baby to term.

Lamenting that abortion should not be an option may sound noble, but currently it is, and hope for changing this is futile without efforts to be part of the change. The question the Pope himself helped answer is what part we are supposed to have in stopping it.

Arguably one of the most influential people in the world, Pope Francis’ actions remind us we are never too busy to care for those whom Jesus himself would seek out.

Consider this woman’s situation. She was pregnant by a married man, something that causes societal judgment. The original story reported:

“Anna added how she was ‘in a desperate and anguished state’ and that she was writing to Pope Francis because she had ‘no-one else to turn to, after being left humiliated and betrayed.'”

Sounds like a woman in the Bible, doesn’t it. Sounds like women Jesus would have talked to, would have loved. The Pope’s actions are a reminder of all of our responsibility to the unborn. A society that demands a child be born to one not ready to parent but won’t take on responsibility is one that talks with words that are vapors.

While some pro-lifers don’t base their views on faith but from scientific evidence alone, a large number use the Bible and their faith as reasoning for protecting life. So does the Pope, of course. Psalm 82:3 (ESV) is one of many biblical references to orphans (literally those without someone to parents them, not just some old movie about a child whose parents have died). This verse is a reminder that it’s more than one for whom we should care:

Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Who are the weak? Perhaps Ms. Romano who was weak to the point of confusion, humiliation, despair, as she notes. Her story is the story of many women. They come to us, we who uphold life as a value. We must remember her life. Is it not worth it as well?

In exactly one short phone call, the Pope gave dignity to a woman scorned, offering her hope and forgiveness. It’s a reminder it’s possible to love a person without condoning her actions. He offered dignity to the child, who will grow up knowing the leader of the church, a great influencer of society, has deemed himself the child’s spiritual father. He will be honored, not shunned, because one man with influence chose to get involved in the choice for life.

We marvel at the story of this spiritual leader reaching out to this mother who chose to give her baby life, despite the circumstances and even abortion demand by his or her father, but it’s an example and model for us, Catholic or Protestant, faith-based or secular; none of this should matter if we preach a life message. We all have a role. For some it’s adopting the child or funding the adoption, but for others it may be exactly what the Pope did. Pastors and leaders, who welcome the weak and afflicted—and, the fatherless child, people who will rise up and help the mom, not just now but always.

Will we commit to the actual life or only the birth? That’s the true mandate of a pure-life based agenda.


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