Pope’s speech to Congress: no specific mention of abortion, only the death penalty
WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) — In his historic address at the US Congress today Pope Francis focused on immigration, human dignity, poverty and the environment. Speaking before all senators hours before they vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, at no point did he mention abortion by name.
He spoke to Congress of “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood,” but was referring only to the sale of weapons. “In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade,” he said.
Prompting palpable joy from conservatives in the room, the pope spoke of human dignity, even of protecting and defending “human life at every stage of development.”
But after the initial applause died down following that line, the pope made no explicit reference to abortion and instead turned immediately to his campaign against the death penalty.
“The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development,” he said.
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.
Even the New York Times took note of the pope’s unexpected change in direction, describing how, “instead of continuing on to talk about the need to end abortion, he pivots to the death penalty.”
The pope also hit hard on favored Democratic issues such as allowing immigration and accepting refugees, confronting poverty and protecting the environment from “deterioration caused by human activity.”
Many pro-life advocates oppose the death penalty, and are strong advocates for the poor, immigrants, and the environment – while holding a range of views on how to handle these issues politically.
But the speech, in the end, is a tremendous victory for Democrats and for so-called social-justice Catholics who continue to call themselves pro-life despite their support for abortion by appealing to their opposition to the death penalty and these other issues.
The only area where Democrats may have felt a sting from the pope’s address to Congress was in his reference to the family. “I cannot hide my concern for the family,” he said, “which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without.”
“Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family.”
Pro-life activists in America had high hopes for the Pope’s address to Congress. In an open letter to the pope released Tuesday, Lila Rose referred to the vote to defund Planned Parenthood, noting the organization “kills over 327,000 children a year in America, leaving behind their deeply wounded mothers and fathers” and were recently shown “harvesting and negotiating the sale of the body parts of aborted children for profit.”
A tweet from conservative writer Damian Thompson in the UK was telling. “Two words I hope we hear from Pope Francis in the US: Planned Parenthood,” he wrote. …