Pope Francis spoke out strongly on abortion and “natural family” Sunday, telling Italy’s Family Association that he believes abortion for birth defects is akin to Nazi-style efforts to create a perfect master race.
“I have heard that it’s fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let’s send it away,” the Pope said, according to CNN, which appeared shocked by the news that the Pope is, indeed, a faithful member of the Catholic Church and opposed to the practice of abortion which the Church believes ends a human life.
“I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves,” he continued.
The Vatican confirmed the Pope’s statements to CNN (they checked to make sure of the quote, something media typically doesn’t do when the Pope appears to say something they agree with, ideologically).
Eugenics has become a major concern in Europe as some states seek to “end” birth defects and chromosomal diseases like Down Syndrome by offering late-term abortions to mothers whose babies are diagnosed with such conditions. In some countries, Down Syndrome has been completely eradicated — a feat accomplished only by eradicating children with Down Syndrome before they are born.
The Pope also had strong words for commentators who assumed, a few weeks ago, that the Church’s compassionate attitude toward gay couples signaled a change in Church dogma, potentially allowing for same-sex marriage.
According to Pope Francis, that’s a hard no: “Today, it is hard to say this, we speak of ‘diversified’ families: different types of families. It is true that the word ‘family’ is an analogical word, because we speak of the ‘family’ of stars, ‘family’ of trees, ‘family’ of animals … it is an analogical word. But the human family in the image of God, man and woman, is the only one. It is the only one. A man and woman can be non-believers: but if they love each other and unite in marriage, they are in the image of God even if they don’t believe.”
The Church — and Pope Francis — has been criticized for not speaking out more strongly on the two core issues, abortion and gay marriage. The Church sidelined itself in the fight to keep abortion illegal in Ireland, and Pope Francis has focused his tenure more on pastoral teaching rather than proclaiming the dogma.
That might be changing.