In a message for Brazil’s National family Week, Pope Francis said it is the task of parents to pass on reverence for human life at all stages to their children.
“In a particular way, faced with the culture of waste, that relativizes the value of human life,” the pope said, “parents are called to pass on to their children the understanding that this must always be defended, already in the mother’s womb, recognizing in it a gift from God and an assurance of mankind’s future, but also in the care shown to the elderly, particularly to grandparents, who are the living memory of a people and the transmitters of life’s wisdom.”
Last week the pope also urged the Knights of Columbus to renew their dedication to the cause of the defence of the family and of life at all its stages. In a letter, the pope called on the knights to emulate St. Joseph, the protector of the Holy Family, and “to bear witness to the authentic nature of marriage and the family, the sanctity and inviolable dignity of human life, and the beauty and truth of human sexuality.”
“In this time of rapid social and cultural changes, the protection of God’s gifts cannot fail to include the affirmation and defense of the great patrimony of moral truths taught by the Gospel and confirmed by right reason, which serve as the bedrock of a just and well-ordered society,” the letter continued.
Signed by Secretary of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone on the pope’s behalf, the letter was addressed to the 131st Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus that was held in San Antonio, Texas August 6-8th.
Shortly after the recent papal visit to Brazil for World Youth Day, the government passed legislation loosening abortion restrictions. The new law requires health care centers to provide the abortifacient “morning-after pill” to rape victims up to 72 hours after the crime.
Twenty pro-life organizations in Latin America issued a joint statement saying, “We have studied the measure and we can see in it the same strategy that is being used in all of our countries to promote widespread use of an abortifacient drug without a prescription.”
Asked by a Brazilian journalist during the flight back to Rome why, given the urgency of the situation, he had not mentioned abortion during the week of World Youth Day, Pope Francis responded, “The Church has already expressed herself perfectly on this. It wasn’t necessary to go back to this, nor did I speak about fraud or lies or other things, on which the Church has a clear doctrine.
The pope added, “It wasn’t necessary to talk about that, but about positive things that open the way to youngsters, isn’t that so? Moreover, young people know perfectly well what the position of the Church is.”
As a cardinal the pope had strongly condemned abortion, even in cases of rape.
In a 2007 speech given to a gathering of priests and laity on October 2nd, then-Cardinal Bergoglio issued a defense of life even in cases of rape saying: “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”
In 2005, he urged Catholics to oppose abortion even if they “deliver you to the courts” or “have you killed.”