February 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In a February 8 interview with one of Italy’s most prominent dailies, Corriere Della Serra, Pope Francis praised Italy’s leading proponent of abortion – Emma Bonino — as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats,” comparing her to great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman. Knowing that his praise of her may be controversial, the Pope said that she offered the best advice to Italy on learning about Africa, and admitted she thinks differently from us. “True, but never mind,” he said. “We have to look at people, at what they do.”
At 27, Bonino had an illegal abortion and then worked with the Information Centre on Sterilization and Abortion which boasted over 10,000 abortions. There are famous photos of Bonino performing illegal abortions using a homemade device operated by a bicycle pump. Arrested for the then-illegal activity she spent a few days in jail and was acquitted and entered politics.
When she was appointed Italy’s foreign minister in 2013 there was a general outcry from life and family leaders at the appalling situation.
Responding to the Pope’s praise of Bonino, pro-life leaders in Italy expressed disbelief. “How can the pope praise a woman that is best known in Italy for practicing illegal abortion and promoting abortion?” commented Msgr. Ignacio Barreiro, who was until last year the head of the Rome office of Human Life International.
Luca Volonte, an Italian politician and the president of the pro-life Novae Terrae Foundation, told LifeSiteNews he believed the Pope “was not really informed about how much Mrs. Bonino has done in Italy and at the international level to promote abortion and euthanasia.” Even though he admits “she did well in Egypt,” he adds that even there “she promoted her anti-life values.” The Pope, said Volonte, “was wrong and worse were the members of His secretariat for not informing him.”
The Pope’s possible ignorance of Bonino’s stance is unlikely given his justifications in the interview. She has been for decades the most prominent supporter of abortion in Italy. Moreover, the Pope already received criticism for his contact with Bonino in 2015 when he called her about her cancer and invited her to the Vatican.