In Lead-Up to Irish Abortion Referendum, Pope Francis Urges Respect for Life

Pope Francis kisses a baby as he arrives for his general audience at St Peter's square on September 24, 2014 at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has once more thrown his moral weight behind the right to life of the unborn, just days before the people of Ireland will vote on whether or not to legalize abortion.

“Unborn children should always be welcomed,” the pope told tens of thousands of pilgrims gathered in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday during his weekly prayer of the Regina Caeli, adding that “life must always be protected and loved from conception to its natural end.”

“This is love,” he emphasized.

On May 25, Ireland will hold a national referendum on whether to retain or repeal the eighth amendment to its constitution, which recognizes the right to life of unborn children and guarantees them protection under the law.

Pro-abortion forces both inside Ireland and internationally have carried on an intense campaign to persuade the Irish to abandon their defense of preborn children, with the help of celebrities like U2’s Bono and actor Liam Neeson as well as international financiers such as George Soros.

Irish Christians—including the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) as well as the Catholic Church—have sought to counter the campaign by reminding their members of the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death.

is urging Irish citizens to “honour the sanctity of human life” in the lead-up to the country’s national referendum on abortion.

In a letter made public to all church members last Sunday, the PCI said that “meaningful protection for the unborn can only be secured if the Eighth Amendment is retained in the forthcoming referendum.”

“As Christians, we see the scriptures speaking consistently of the importance and value of human life, including that of the unborn,” said the PCI in a letter to its members. “On that basis, we are responsible before God to honour the sanctity of human life.”

In January, Catholic bishop Kevin Doran issued a pastoral letter denying the abortion lobby’s pro-choice rhetoric, asserting that the unborn child has no voice and no choice and is at the mercy of what adults choose to do to him or her.

“When it comes to the right to choose, there is a tendency to forget that there is another person involved; a vulnerable person who has no choice and who depends entirely on others for protection,” wrote Doran. “If society accepts that one human being has the right to end the life of another, then it is no longer possible to claim the right to life as a fundamental human right for anybody.”

Three more Catholic bishops published pastoral letters on April 15, urging Catholics and all people of good will to reject attempts to overturn the Eighth Amendment, which declares and defends “the right to life of the unborn.”

Pope Francis, who plans to visit Ireland this summer, has called abortion a “scourge” as well as a “horrendous crime,” insisting that “a just society recognizes the primacy of the right to life from conception to natural death.”

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