ROME — Pope Francis condemned abortion in all its forms Wednesday, declaring that even a disabled child is a gift of God to be welcomed and not put to death.
Often the killing of human life in the womb is defended “in the name of safeguarding other rights,” the pope told crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square for his weekly General Audience. “But how can an act that suppresses innocent and helpless life in its beginnings be therapeutic, civil, or even human?”
“Therapeutic abortion” is a euphemism often used to describe killing an unborn child diagnosed with abnormalities or disabilities that would reduce its “quality of life.” The word therapeutic actually means related to the healing of disease, and a so-called “therapeutic” abortion does not heal disabilities—it merely eliminates the bearer of disabilities.
The reception of the other is “a challenge to Individualism,” Francis said. “We can think, for example, of when we find out that a nascent life bears some disability, perhaps a serious one. The parents, in these dramatic cases, need true closeness, true solidarity, to face the reality and overcome their understandable fears.”
“Instead they often receive hasty advice to terminate the pregnancy,” he added.
“A sick child is like every other needy person of the earth, like an elder who needs assistance, like so many poor people who are struggling to get by: he or she who seems to be a problem is actually a gift from God who can pull me out of self-centeredness to help me grow In love,” he said. “Vulnerable life shows us the way out, the way to save us from an existence folded on itself and discover the joy of love.”
The pope spoke about abortion during an extended reflection on the fifth commandment: Thou shalt not kill.
“One could say that all the evil carried out in the world is summed up in this: contempt for life,” he said. “Life is assaulted by wars, by organizations that exploit man, by speculations about creation and the throwaway culture, and by all systems that subject human existence to utilitarian calculations, while an shameful number of people live in a state unworthy of man.”
“What leads man to reject life?” Francis asked. “They are the idols of this world: money, power, success. These are wrong parameters to evaluate Life. The only authentic measure of life is love, the love with which God loves it!”
During his address, the pope said that at the core of the biblical injunction against taking innocent life is the positive fact that God is a “lover of life.”
We learn the secret of life by how the son of God treated it, Francis continued. “He became man and assumed, on the cross, rejection, weakness, poverty and sorrow. In every sick child, in every weak elder, in every desperate migrant, in every fragile and threatened life, Christ is looking for us. He is looking for our heart, to reveal to us the joy of love.”
“It is worthwhile to welcome every life because every man is worth the blood of Christ himself,” he said. “You cannot despise what God has so loved!”
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