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Francis contradicts previous Popes: immigration issue just as important as abortion

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VATICAN, April 9, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) -- In his lengthy exhortation released this morning, Pope Francis chastised those who would see abortion as a more important issue than migration. “Some Catholics consider (immigration) a secondary issue compared to the ‘grave’ bioethical questions,” he said. “That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian.”

The Pope decries the "harmful ideological error" of those who dismiss the importance of the "social engagement of others," such as in immigration or service of the poor.

He criticizes those who "relativize" these issues, "as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend."

“Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate,” he said, but should not supercede the defense of the poor or migrants.

The contrast with Pope Benedict XVI is evident from Benedict’s 2006 remarks to members of the European People’s Party. “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable,” he said.

He added: 

Among these the following emerge clearly today:

  • protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
  • recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family - as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage - and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
  • the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

Pope Saint John Paul II wrote similarly in his 1988 apostolic exhortation, The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World (Christifideles Laici). "The inviolability of the person, which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, finds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination . . . "

Pope Francis’ remarks on the issue appear in paragraphs 101-102 of the exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate reproduced in full below:

101. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist. Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend. Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.

102. We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. Some Catholics consider it a secondary issue compared to the “grave” bioethical questions. That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian, for whom the only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realize that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him (cf. Mt 25:35)? Saint Benedict did so readily, and though it might have “complicated” the life of his monks, he ordered that all guests who knocked at the monastery door be welcomed “like Christ”, with a gesture of veneration; the poor and pilgrims were to be met with “the greatest care and solicitude”.

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