Pope says church won't cave in on abortion, slams pro-choice laws

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Abortion,Catholicism,Pope Francis

Pope Francis is seeking to reassure Catholics that the church is sticking to its hardline opposition to abortion, writing in a new message that “it is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”

In a message that was praised by anti-abortion groups and condemned by pro-abortion supporters, Francis also criticized laws making abortion legal.

In the text of his Evangelii Gaudium, or “The Joy of the Gospel,” his Apostolic Exhortation sought to assure Catholics wowed by the new pope's down-to-earth approach but worried about his commitment to church principles, that there will be no change on life issues.

“Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right,” wrote Francis.

“The church cannot be expected to change her position on this question. I want to be completely honest in this regard. This is not something subject to alleged reforms or ‘modernizations.’ It is not ‘progressive' to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life,” he added.

Anti-abortion groups heralded the new message. LifeNews.com, for example, wrote: “The text of the message makes it clear that the Catholic Church cannot and will not compromise on its pro-life teachings on abortion.”

But Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, hit the pope for having a “blind spot” on women. “He rules out any reform in the Vatican's teachings on abortion and the role of women in the church. In this respect, Francis has shown himself to be like many other men from many different backgrounds,” he said in a statement.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.