By Jim Sedlak
Yesterday Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress. He was the first pope in history to do that. I’ve just read through a copy of the pope’s speech as it was released by the Vatican, hoping I would find the key words that we are faced with every day in our battle against the culture of death.
I am disappointed.
Nowhere in the speech does the pope mention the evil of abortion. Oh, he did make the following statement: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” But, he followed that immediately with a call to end the death penalty. Got that? He took precious time before the United States Congress to call for an end to the death penalty! In 2014, in the United States, 35 people were put to death because of the death penalty. In that same year, about one million innocent young children lost their lives to abortion in this country. Yet, the word abortion—a sin by which people are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church—was never mentioned.
We must remember here that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2267, states:
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people's safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if not practically non-existent." (emphasis added)
Clearly, a procedure that is employed only 35 times in an entire year is certainly rare.
My disappointment, though, is not that the pope mentioned the death penalty; it is that he chose not to mention abortion, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, or the countless babies killed through legal IVF. If you have the opportunity to call on members of Congress to take action, why not mention the most pervasive methods of “legal” killing in this country?
In a like manner, the pope did not mention same-sex marriage as an abomination. Again, he did say, when speaking about family life, “Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.” Clearly he was alluding to the Supreme Court decision on same-sex unions, but he could have called on Congress to amend the Constitution and define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. He chose not to do that. It was disappointing.
Perhaps it is my age that is showing. I remember that, when Catholic leaders had the chance to publicly address political leaders, they shouted the truth from the rooftops. We will never forget when Mother Teresa was at the 1994 national prayer breakfast, sponsored by both houses of Congress, where she proclaimed:
But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.
By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today—abortion which brings people to such blindness.
Pope Francis has delivered three speeches that have been made public so far in his visit to the United States. In both his speech to Congress and his short speech to President Obama, he did not mention abortion or same-sex unions. He did mention abortion to the bishops, but that is of little consolation.
Whatever speeches the pontiff delivers over the next few days, he missed the opportunity to tell our nation’s political leaders what they need to hear.
Disappointing. That’s the only way to describe what happened in DC.
Jim Sedlak is vice president of American Life League.