Part 20 in a series of reflections on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.
Because of its importance as an issue critical to the health of any society and its centrality to the sanctity of human life, I quote Pope Francis’ reflections on the evils of abortion:
“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’.”
“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?”
He expands this to speak about how we are stewards of other creatures and of creation by quoting from the Bishops of the Philippines: “215… Here I would make my own the touching and prophetic lament voiced some years ago by the bishops of the Philippines: ‘An incredible variety of insects lived in the forest and were busy with all kinds of tasks… Birds flew through the air, their bright plumes and varying calls adding color and song to the green of the forests… God intended this land for us, his special creatures, but not so that we might destroy it and turn it into a wasteland… After a single night’s rain, look at the chocolate brown rivers in your locality and remember that they are carrying the life blood of the land into the sea… How can fish swim in sewers like the Pasig and so many more rivers which we have polluted? Who has turned the wonderworld of the seas into underwater cemeteries bereft of color and life?’”
And fittingly, he invokes the good name of Saint Francis of Assisi. I still remember how thrilled I was when I heard he had chosen the name Francis and that it was after St. Francis of Assisi: “216. Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples.”
May the Lord give you peace.
You can access the document at www.vatican.va and then click on Apostolic Exhortations.