In a recent one-on-one interview, Pope Francis underscored the contradictions of modern societies that have tight regulations regarding child welfare and yet allow babies to be killed in the womb, a comment that drew plaudits from pro-life activists.
“We commend Pope Francis for continuing to shed light on this tragedy that claims tens of millions of unborn children around the globe every year,” said Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee.
The Pope noted how sensibilities toward corporal punishment have changed during his lifetime. When I was a kid, he said, “you got a couple smacks and off you go.” Now that has “changed,” he said.
Francis has been criticized for his openness to spankings for children, to which he responded that many countries live in an open paradox regarding children’s welfare.
“Curiously,” he said, these countries with very strict laws regarding the protection of minors, who even punish fathers or mothers who spank their children, “have laws allowing them to kill their children before they are born.”
“Those are the contradictions we live with now,” he said.
Stephen Phelan, the director of mission communications for Human Life International, said that Pope Francis got it “exactly right.”
“The disconnect is stunning,” Phelan told the Catholic newspaper Crux. “At one moment, the child can be destroyed for any reason and at another, a parent may not even discipline him.”
According to Phelan, while it is important to condemn all forms of child abuse, “it’s especially necessary to point out, as the Holy Father has, that the most violent form of child abuse is abortion.”
Francis has been an open critic of modern abortion policies, calling abortion “a sin against the Creator,” and denounced the fiction that “supporting abortion somehow helps women.” Last Christmas, he compared babies killed in the womb to King Herod’s massacre of the innocents in his efforts to hunt down the Christ child to murder Him.
“By the light of both faith and right reason,” the Pope said, “human life is always sacred.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.