Pope Francis decries culture that ‘throws away’ humans, born and preborn

Pope Francis, abortion

In his most recent Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis condemned a “throwaway culture” that marginalizes and eventually discards the elderly and unborn.

Speaking to the pilgrims gathered in Vatican City, Pope Francis said, “The throw-away culture says, ‘I use you in as much as I need you. When I am not interested in you anymore, or you are in my way, I throw you out’. It is especially the weakest who are treated this way – unborn children, the elderly, the needy and the disadvantaged.”

He added, “But people are never to be thrown out, the disadvantaged cannot be thrown away! Every person is a sacred gift, each person is a unique gift, no matter what their age or condition. Let us always respect and promote life! Let’s not throw life away!”

The “throw-away culture” has been a constant theme of Pope Francis’ messaging since the beginning of his papacy in 2013. In the year after his election, as USA Today reported, the pope coined the term “throwaway culture” to describe how society wastes human life as easily as it wastes food, calling out abortion as a “horrific” manifestation of this.

Pope Francis brought the message home to those in St. Peter’s Square and abroad, asking them to ponder their own attitudes towards gifts, especially the gift of life. “Am I responsible about how I use things, goods? Am I willing to share things with others, or am I selfish? Lastly: Do I consider the weakest as precious gifts whom God asks me to care for? Do I remember the poor, those who are deprived of what is necessary?”

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In 2021, in an address on public health, Pope Francis again said that “we are victims of a throwaway culture,” adding that abortion “has become a ‘normal’ way, a habit that is very ugly, it is really a murder, and to understand it well perhaps it helps us to ask a double question: is it right to eliminate, to take out a human life to solve a problem?” In 2018, the pope used a similar analogy during a Wednesday general audience discussing the fifth commandment — thou shalt not kill — when he blasted the “contradictory approach [that] permits the suppression of human life in the maternal womb in the name of safeguarding other rights,” saying “it is not right to do away with a human being, albeit small, to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman to solve a problem.”

Last summer, Pope Francis criticized the stance of President Biden, a Catholic, as “incoherence” and pointed out that “a month after conception, the DNA of the fetus is already there and the organs are aligned. There is human life.” (In reality, at the instant of fertilization, the entirety of that preborn child’s unique DNA is present.) And last fall, when pressed on the issue of euthanasia, the pope lamented that “the West has taken the wrong paths,” adding, “To kill is not human, period. If you kill — with motivation, yes — in the end you will kill more. It’s not human. Let’s leave killing to the animals.”

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