Pope Francis presents a telling point on abortion

Some may have been concerned previously with Pope Francis’ statements on abortion, as in a previous interview he stated that the Church “cannot insist only on issues related to abortion…” This statement was indeed taken out of context by many media outlets, and even pro-choice groups. However, many opined and explained the Pope’s rationale behind his statements, as I have also done in previous articles of mine. Tom Hoopes, for CatholicVote, also provided a thoughtful piece.

Francis IHowever, such celebration is certainly unwarranted by pro-choice groups who expressed thanks to the Pope like NARAL did. And, those who may be concerned as to if Francis is truly committed on the Church’s teachings in regards to abortion, need not be.

There was also reporting on Francis’ homily from November 18, mentioning that the pope criticized “adolescent progressivism.”, however, also pointed out that part of his homily could be interpreted from a pro-life perspective:

At this morning’s papal Mass, Pope Francis asked rhetorically and bitterly,  “What do you think, that today human sacrifices are not made?” He added: “Many, many people make human sacrifices and there are laws that protect them.”

The statement sounds very much like he could be referring to the abortion of unborn children, which many Christians have referred to as the new human sacrifice to the gods of convenience, money, power and more.  That perspective is supported by some of the other talking points from this morning’s homily.

And this Holy Father continues to be a pope dedicated from speaking on and advancing the infallible pro-life position of the Church. I would point out though that perhaps Francis presents a viewpoint, and not just on abortion, that many are not used to hearing. This is not to say that Blessed John Paul II and Benedict did not also advance such an important aspect of the Catholic faith. For me, however, it is interesting how Francis speaks and how what he says is interpreted, especially as I have become stronger in returning to my Catholic faith over the years.

It would seem that each time Francis makes a pro-life statement, it is  taken as a comfort or reassurance that he is still committed to Church teachings. Indeed, for, John-Henry Westen titled his piece from September 20 “Pope condemns abortion in strongest pro-life comments to date, day after controversial interview.”

On November 26, the Vatican released the text of the Evangelii Gaudium. This. text may remain the most pro-life statements of Francis, at least in focus, so far, and may remain the case for his entire time as pope,. We can still hope he will continue to remind the Church of the importance of its unwavering pro-life stance.

In referring to Francis’ statements on protecting the unborn child in the womb, many media outlets and bloggers are mentioning the following parts of the Apostolic Exhortation:

213. Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right. It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be. Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, “every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual”.[176]

214. Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the Church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. 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. On the other hand, it is also true that we have done little to adequately accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty. Who can remain unmoved before such painful situations?

It is worth pointing out that many believe it is the “progressive” thing to do to have abortion be legal. As the Holy Father warned against with the homily referred to, though, the Church cannot negotiate on such a matter in order to be right with the world. And all pro-lifers, of any or no faiths, should feel the same.

It is not progressive to advocate for the so-called right for a mother to pay to have her child ripped from her womb. Unfortunately, however, there are still those who believe female inclusion involves abortion, as Eric W. Dolan suggests for The Raw Story with his piece titled “Pope Francis calls for female inclusion but rejects ‘progressive’ reforms to abortion doctrine.” It is perhaps worth noting that upon accessing this article, a link for supporting EMILY’s List, which is a PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice Democrat women, will sometimes pop up first.

And of course Pope Francis “rejects ‘progressive’ reforms to abortion doctrine.” I don’t care how Francis is viewed, whether people are thrilled or concerned with how some consider him to be a leftist pope. It would be unthinkable for the pope to proclaim that the Church is anything less than as committed to the pro-life stance as it currently is. As the Mirror of Justice blog posted: “Anyone who feared or hoped that Pope Francis intended to change (which would not be possible) or soft-pedal the Church’s teachings on these matters might want to note carefully what he says.” The emphasis is mine.

As technology, like the ultrasound, has increasingly been on the side of life, it is actually more of a backwards position and a misunderstanding of science to argue for abortion. And pro-lifers will always know that abortion is wrong, and that science agrees with us that it is the death of a human life, regardless of what “progressivism” or popular opinion says.

Pope Francis also calls us to do more for the mothers who find themselves in the difficult situation of an unplanned, or a crisis pregnancy, as is often the case when the child is conceived from rape. Such comments remind me of the notion that for us to truly reduce abortion, we must first change the culture. Or that to end abortion, we must make abortion unthinkable. I myself advocate for working to end abortion from a political perspective, but Francis reminds me that we must also work on abolition through the culture, through reaching out to specific individuals.

Thus it is not just those who think it would ever be conceivable for the Church to become more “progressive” on abortion. I may be politically focused, but as mentioned just above, that is not the only path to abolishing abortion. As the excerpt above mentions: “Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative.” Fighting against abortion and for the child in the womb need not be ideological or conservative or any of those things. It is about doing the right thing not only by the Church and God, as we are all children of God, made in his image, but the world.

Some like to use the old phrase, is the pope Catholic (or a more crude version). I like to ask if the pope, and thus the Church, is pro-life. And Francis shows us that that answer is yes.

  • gpenglase

    Thanks for your article Rebecca. It’s good to see you put to flight the notion that the reign of Francis has changed the RC’s position on an unborn person’s right to life, or sought to minimise it’s stance.

    • Rebecca Rose Downs

      Thank you! Yes, it really is ridiculous for people to think that there is even a chance of the Church changing its position on abortion. I am so happy to have been able to return to my Catholic faith and while I know we are a Church that is so committed to upholding the dignity of all life, including the unborn as the most vulnerable amongst us, I didn’t know how apart from the rest we are. This is not to say that other denominations are not as committed, but after interning with the Institute on Religion & Democracy, and being around other denominations (only other denominations, in fact) I truly appreciate my Catholic faith and our consistent and committed stance!

      • gpenglase

        Can’t say I prescribe to much of what the RC teaches as it so clearly deviates from scripture on many important foundational Christian truths, but I applaud their unyielding stance on the sacrosanct life of the unborn. My point is that the MSM likes to portray one statement from Francis as capitulation on this issue, and that is not the truth. No more than Nelson Mandela is a figure to be hero-worshipped.

        I avoid denominations like the plague, since classification as or pursuit of denominationalism isn’t part of scripture nor is it of Christ. Know what you believe and why you believe it – and if you don’t know, then pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you and read a traditional Bible (66 chapters) until you do. The rest is irrelevant.

        • Rebecca Rose Downs

          Fair enough. I thank you even more than for your applauding the RC where you do choose to!

          • gpenglase

            Well, why not? Many other denominations have become so wishy-washy in what they stand for trying to please Man, whereas the RC church at least stands strong in the face of such open and aggressive opposition. And, personally, I owe a lot to a couple from a charismatic RC congregation who were Christ to me when I needed it most – they are fully aware of the imperfections of the RC yet remain connected with the RC church because of the very strong fundamentals in the RC canon and their desire to reach people for Christ within the RC church. Believe me, every major denomination is a mission field.

          • gpenglase

            None of us have all the Truth; we all see the Kingdom as ‘through a glass dimly’; no-one can stand before the throne and say I have not sinned; no-one can reach God through their own actions. But through Christ we can all have *direct* access to Almighty God – an intimate personal relationship that, when experienced, no-one can deny.

  • MamaBear

    It is sad that our great men and women of faith, in all denominations, have to carefully watch each word they say, and try to predict how those words might be twisted.
    I cannot agree with the Catholic interpretation of Scripture in some things, but I applaud their strong pro-life stance. It seems our liberal media cannot grasp the concept of opposing the sin, but offering mercy and compassion and ultimately salvation for the sinner.
    Please remember, you have many Evangelical and Protestant brothers and sisters who are also standing with you in this and other moral issues.