Pope Francis Blesses Pro-Life March, Defends Unborn Human Life as ‘Divine Gift’

Pope Francis blesses a child as he leaves in his papamobile after the Holy mass with the ecclesial movements for Pentecost Sunday on May 19, 2013 at St peter's square at the Vatican. AFP PHOTO / ANDREAS SOLARO (Photo credit should read ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images)

Pope Francis has shown special support to the pro-life movement this week, first by underscoring the inviolability of human embryos and later, by sending his apostolic blessing to Italy’s annual March for Life.

In a special message to the organizers of the pro-life March, held on Saturday afternoon in the center of Rome, Francis expressed his wish that the march might “promote adherence to the value of human life and the acceptance of this incommensurable divine gift in all its fascinating richness.”

The pope also promised his prayers for the success of the event as well as sending his “apostolic blessing” to all participants.

Francis sent a similar message of support in January to the March for Life taking place in Paris, France.

“The Church must never tire of being an advocate for life and must not neglect to proclaim that human life is to be protected unconditionally from the moment of conception until natural death,” the Pope’s message said.

Pope Francis is a well-known and vocal opponent of the abortion industry and has compared those who kill unborn children to the Mafia and to the biblical figure of King Herod, who slaughtered all the male children two years old and younger around Jerusalem in an attempt to eliminate Jesus before he could grow up to become king.

This week, Francis sent another powerful message to the pro-life movement, stating that no potential medical or scientific benefits “can justify the destruction of human embryos.”

Meeting in the Vatican Thursday with a group of people afflicted with Huntington’s Disease, a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain, the pope reminded patients and doctors that research even for the highest and most noble causes is subject to ethical restrictions.

I encourage you to always pursue your efforts “by means that do not contribute to fueling that ‘throw-away culture’ that at times infiltrates even the world of scientific research,” Francis said.

“Some lines of research, in fact, utilize human embryos, inevitably causing their destruction,” he said. “But we know that no objective, no matter how noble—such as predicted benefits for science, other human beings or society—can justify the destruction of human embryos.”

Implications of the pope’s words extend well beyond the abortion question and touch on a number of medical practices that are common today.

In vitro fertilization, for instance, which the Catholic Church condemns, involves the creation of a series of “spare” human embryos beyond those to be implanted in a woman’s uterus, which are, therefore, slated for destruction.

The pope also denounced the use of human embryos for research on possible cures for diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Type 1 diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, muscular dystrophy and many other pathologies.

The basic principle Francis referred to is that certain human individuals should not be sacrificed for others since their lives, too, are inviolable. According to this principle, no human life is expendable.

Current debates regarding the morality of abortion inevitably return to the moral status of the human embryo and the question of whether unborn human beings also enjoy the right to life guaranteed to all persons.

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