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Pope Francis meets with Italy's most prominent abortion advocate, Emma Bonino, whom he has praised as a "forgotten great."

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis once again praised notorious Italian abortionist Emma Bonino, saying he has “great respect” for her, although he does not “share her ideas.”

In an interview published May 3 in Italy’s widely read newspaper Corriere Della Sera, Pope Francis spoke on a variety of topics, including Russia’s war with Ukraine, and Italian politics.

At one point, the 84-year-old Pontiff spoke about his relations with key Italian figures, including the former president of the European Central Bank turned Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Bonino. 

“The relationship with Mario Draghi is good, very good. Already in the past, when he was at the European Central Bank, I asked him for advice,” said Francis, before adding:

“I have great respect for Emma Bonino: I don’t share her ideas but she knows Africa better than anyone. In front of this woman I say, chapeau.”

Bonino had an illegal abortion when she was age 27, and after spending four months abroad evading arrest, returned to Italy where she served a 10-day prison term. Bonino credited her arrest with causing the topic of abortion to take center stage in Italy.

She subsequently became a heroine in the eyes of the left-wing media, and notorious for performing abortions with a homemade device, operated by a bicycle pump. She founded the Information Centre on Sterilization and Abortion (CISA) in 1975, which prominently lobbied to promote abortion in Italy prior to its legalization in 1978. 

As such, she was described in 2017 as being at least partially responsible for over 6 million abortions since 1978, and has personally boasted that she and her group committed 10,141 illegal abortions. 

Bonino is a career politician, having been a member of the European Parliament. She spent many terms in the Italian Chamber of Deputies and was appointed as Italy’s foreign minister in 2013. 

LifeSiteNews has previously highlighted Bonino’s history of working against family and life in her political actions, and the Italian pro-life group Famiglia Domani wrote in 2016 that: 

Bonino still aims at a destabilisation of society, and she admits so herself in the newspaper Corriere della Sera (17 August 1999), where she says “as if destabilisation of present balances had not been one of the essential functions of politics.”

Deacon Nick Donnelly, a U.K. author and catechist, criticized Pope Francis for his praise of Bonino while ignoring her prominent role in promoting abortion in Italy, saying, “Bergoglio always ignores this abominable crime.”

Francis and Bonino’s cordial relationship

However, this is not the first time Pope Francis has praised Bonino. In what appears to be a recurring event when speaking with Corriere, Francis first praised her in February 2016 in an interview with the Italian daily. 

Francis described the notorious abortion advocate as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats,” comparing her with great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman.

Acknowledging her differing views, Francis said, “True, but never mind. We have to look at people, at what they do.”

Some months later in November 2016, Francis then received Bonino in a private audience, in her capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to the Holy See Press Office at the time, the meeting was “mostly on the topics of the influx of migrants, of welcoming migrants, and their integration.”

July 2017 saw Bonino speak in a Catholic church in Northern Italy, following her praise from Pope Francis, while pro-life advocates were ejected from the church due to their protests at her presence.

Yet the history of Pope Francis and Bonino goes further back than 2016. As Foreign Minister, Bonino, along with President Georgio Napolitano and his key ministers, were granted an audience with Pope Francis on June 8, 2013, only two months after he ascended to the Papacy. 

READ: Pope claims he speaks out often against abortion, his actions suggest otherwise

In April 2014, Bonino called Pope Francis to help end the hunger strike of Radical Party leader Marco Pannella. The Pope made the call and promised to join Pannella in his bid to better conditions in Italian prisons.

In May 2015, the Vatican Insider reported that Pope Francis personally invited Bonino to an audience in Paul VI Hall.

Indeed, in a now-archived 2018 report in The Guardian, Bonino describes a regular and close relationship with Pope Francis, with The Guardian calling Francis an “ally” for Bonino.

“The two, she says with a grin, are in touch. ‘We have some connections, so we pass messages quite often, through friends’.”