Whether it was coincidence or intentional timing, Pope Francis’s comments on abortion this morning could not have come at a more telling moment. Following a heap of misconstrued interpretations of the pope’s thoughts on abortion and contraception yesterday (which were taken blatantly out of context by the mainstream media), Pope Francis minced no words this morning when he condemned the practice of abortion, speaking to a group of Catholic gynecologists. He said (full remarks can be found here, in Italian):
Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world.
In the largely misrepresented interview which was released yesterday, the pope said, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible.” By this, he seems to have meant (from the larger context of the quote, which was wholly ignored by the media) that if Catholics lose sight of the Church’s mission of salvation, and pontificate on moral issues as rules alone divorced from the Church’s mission to save souls, then there is a problem. Of course, mainstream media jumped on its creation of the “virtual Pope Francis” to conclude that the Catholic leader was dismissing Catholic teaching on life issues.
In his pro-life remarks this morning, which are being called the “strongest to date,” Pope Francis said:
On the one hand we see progress in the field of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who passionately and unreservedly dedicate themselves to the search for new cures. On the other hand, however, we also encounter the risk that doctors lose sight of their identity in the service of life.
While new rights are attributed to or indeed almost presumed by the individual, life is not always protected as the primary value and the primordial right of every human being. The ultimate aim of medicine remains the defense and promotion of life.
The pope reminded Catholic doctors that their Catholic faith demands “greater responsibility” of them, in the face of a modern culture that frequently fails to recognize the “imprint of the creative work of God” on human life, or its dignity.
The Lord counts on you to spread the ‘Gospel of life’… Bear witness to and disseminate this ‘culture of life’ … remind all, through actions and words, that in all its phases and at any age, life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science! There is no human life more sacred than another, just as there exists no human life qualitatively more meaningful than another.