Pope Francis Calls for Awakening of Legislators’ Consciences over Abortion

Pope Francis blesses large pro-life bell.
Courtesy of Vatican Media

ROME — Pope Francis appealed to the “consciences of lawmakers” Wednesday, urging them to awaken to the right to life of the unborn in opposition to abortion.

At the end of his weekly General Audience in the Vatican, the pope blessed a large bell brought by a group of Polish pilgrims from the pro-life group “Yes to Life.” Francis said he hoped that the peals of the bell — named “the Voice of the Unborn” — would “awaken the consciences of lawmakers and all people of good will in Poland and in the world.”

The bell “will accompany events aimed at reminding us of the value of human life from conception to natural death,” Francis said, in reference to upcoming Marches for Life throughout Poland.

The pontiff concluded by reminding his hearers that God is “the only and true Giver of life.”

On Tuesday, the Vatican issued a strongly worded text on euthanasia and assisted suicide, denouncing not only those who partake directly in taking the life of the innocent, but also legislators who support them with their votes.

Euthanasia “is an act of homicide that no end can justify and that does not tolerate any form of complicity or active or passive collaboration,” the document declares. “Those who approve laws of euthanasia and assisted suicide, therefore, become accomplices of a grave sin that others will execute.”

“They are also guilty of scandal because by such laws they contribute to the distortion of conscience, even among the faithful,” the text adds.

The Vatican has employed identical arguments when speaking about abortion and the obligation to oppose laws that legitimize it.

Saint John Paul II reiterated on numerous occasions that “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

“In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it,” John Paul wrote.

The Vatican has stressed that “a well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.”

“In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands, Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person,” the Vatican’s doctrinal office noted in a 2002 text. “This is the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia. Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death.”

According to Catholic teaching, the “first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental — the condition of all the others. Hence it must be protected above all others.”

“It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion,” the Vatican has declared. “Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application.”

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