January 13, 2014

Two Reuters Headlines Presume Pope Has Condemned Abortion to Placate ‘Conservatives’

A few hours ago, the folks at Twitchy.com caught the following headline at Reuters at a story about Pope Francis: “Pope, in nod to conservatives, calls abortion ‘horrific.’” At roughly 11:45 Eastern Time, the headline at Philip Pullella’s story carried at Yahoo News ventured even further into the unreal: “Pope, after conservatives’ criticism, calls abortion “horrific.’”

Phil, the Pope is Catholic. Abortion is and always will be a grave, i.e., mortal sin in the Catholic Church. Alleged “conservative” influence is utterly irrelevant. As would be expected, Pullella’s content isn’t any less ignorant (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Pope Francis, whom conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church have accused of not speaking out forcefully enough against abortion, on Monday called the practice “horrific”.


The pope made his toughest remarks to date on abortion in his yearly address to diplomats accredited to the Vatican, a speech known as his “State of the World” address.

“It is horrific even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day,” he said in a section of the speech about the rights of children around the world.

Abortion, he said, was part of a “throwaway culture” that had enveloped many parts of the world.

“Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as unnecessary,” he said.

Since his election in March, the pope, while showing no signs of changing the Church’s position against abortion, has not spoken out against it as sternly or as repeatedly as his predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and the late John Paul II.

Both of those popes often delivered sermons against abortion, which the Church considers murder.

Conservatives in the Church were alarmed when Francis, in a landmark interview in September with the Italian Jesuit magazine Civilta Cattolica, said the Church must shake off an “obsession” with teachings on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.

His stance favoring mercy over condemnation has disoriented conservative Catholics …

Pullella is absolutely wrong when he claims that the Pope made “his toughest remarks to date on abortion.”

As Tim Graham at NewsBusters noted at the time, the Pope was every bit as forceful about the heinous nature of abortion in September. Much of the language echoes his more recent remarks. But in citing “reason and science,” Francis arguably went further, laying down an unmistakable, uncompromising marker:

… the Pope told a gathering of Catholic gynecologists: “In all its phases and at every age, human life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science.”

He identified abortion as the product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the ‘throwaway culture’, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many.” That mentality, he said, “calls for the elimination of human beings, above all if they are physically or socially weaker. Our response to that mentality is a decisive and unhesitating ‘yes’ to life.”

He concluded, “Every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord, who even before his birth, and then as soon as he was born, experienced the rejection of the world,” he said. “And every old person, even if infirm and at the end of his days, carries with him the face of Christ. They must not be thrown away!”

Pullella’s “favoring mercy over condemnation” statement is a false “either/or” argument. Condemning the sin but having mercy on the sinner has been a cornerstone of Church doctrine since its inception. The Pope, in his role as shepherd, may believe that guiding the world toward repentance might currently be better served by placing a bit more emphasis on mercy, and certain members of his flock may not agree with such a move. But none of this alters immutable Church doctrine.

It’s as if Pullella believes that “conservatives” somehow convinced the Pope to criticize abortion when he really didn’t want to. What rubbish. As Graham essentially noted in an email to me just now, only a story headlined “Pope, in sop to conservatives, says Jesus is God” would be more absurd — but just barely.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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