VATICAN CITY, March 13, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was Archbishop of Buenos Aires he defended the life of the unborn even in cases of rape, in very stark terms.

In a 2007 speech given to a gathering of priests and laity on October 2nd, then-Cardinal Bergoglio issued a defense of life even in cases of rape saying: "we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty," but "in Argentina we have the death penalty.  A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death."

Pro-life leaders in Argentina rejoiced at Cardinal Bergoglio’s elevation to the Pontificate.  Nicholas Lafferriere head of Argentina’s Center for Bioethics, Person and Family told LifeSiteNews.com “Those of us who work for life and family in Argentina have always felt ourselves to be supported and promoted by Cardinal Bergoglio.”

“On the one hand, he has promoted the dignity of each woman and especially of women during pregnancy,” he added. 

In his archdiocese, Cardinal Bergoglio promoted a special blessing for mothers and their unborn children. 

Moreover, on behalf of the bishops of Latin America, also in 2007, Cardinal Bergoglio presented the "Aparecida Document" regarding the situation of the Church in their countries.  The document, approved by Pope Benedict XVI in July of that year, made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion, disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians.

The text states in paragraph 436 that "we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated.  This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals." 

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The prelate also denounced a "culture of discarding" regarding the elderly, which treats them as if they are disposable and worthless due to their advanced age. 

"In Argentina there is clandestine euthanasia.  Social services pay up to a certain point; if you pass it, ‘die, you are very old’.  Today, elderly people are discarded when, in reality, they are the seat of wisdom of the society," he said, and observed that "the right to life means allowing people to live and not killing, allowing them to grow, to eat, to be educated, to be healed, and to be permitted to die with dignity."