VATICAN CITY, November 26, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In a high level teaching document released this morning, Pope Francis has firmly responded to those who have expressed hope that the Catholic Church may one day change its teachings on abortion, writing, “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’,” he added.

Entitled “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), the Apostolic Exhortation – a document which, while important, is of less weight than an encyclical - noted, “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us.” 

He lamented that, “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 defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right.”

“It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development,” he said. “Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this conviction disappears, so do solid and lasting foundations for the defence of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.”

The document marks the pope's most in-depth discussion of abortion since his election. 

The pope added that it is important to do more to more to "accompany women in very difficult situations, where abortion appears as a quick solution to their profound anguish, especially when the life developing within them is the result of rape or a situation of extreme poverty.”

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The Holy Father stated that the truth about human life can be discovered with reason alone, but from a faith perspective the gravity of the evil of abortion is manifest. 

“Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life, but if we also look at the issue from the standpoint of faith, ‘every violation of the personal dignity of the human being cries out in vengeance to God and is an offence against the creator of the individual,’” he said, quoting a previous Apostolic Exhortation by Pope John Paul II. 

In previous remarks in September, the pope had condemned abortion as a manifestation of a “throwaway culture.”

"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," the pope said at the time.

In a recent homily, seen by some Vatican watchers as wake up call to liberal Catholics to abandon hopes of Pope Francis altering Church teaching on abortion and contraception, he warned against the desire to “be like everyone else” and what he called an “adolescent progressivism”. “Lord,” the pope prayed, “give me the discernment to recognize the subtle conspiracies of worldliness that lead us to negotiate our values and our faith.”

Similarly, in Evangelii Gaudium Pope Francis writes, “It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.”