VATICAN, December 15, 2003 (  Pope John Paul II met with the ambassadors of Estonia and Singapore Friday and urged both countries to defend the right to life of the unborn and safeguard the traditional family.  A “firm commitment to a culture of life and a culture of the family is an essential building block to the social fabric of every country and a requirement for long-term success,” the Pope told Mr. Walter Woon, the new ambassador of Singapore.  “There is no doubt that one of the greatest needs in Estonia today is to ensure that the sacred institution of marriage, willed by God in the very act of creation, with its concomitant of stable family life, is affirmed and supported,” the Pope said in his message to new Estonian ambassador Mr. Priiit Kolbre.  “Both civic and religious leaders of all denominations must work together towards this end,” he said.

The Pope warned, “Many cultural, social and political factors are in fact conspiring to create an increasingly obvious crisis of the family.”  Pointing to the devastation of abortion, he said, “The scourge of abortion, in addition to violating the essential dignity of human life, often causes untold emotional and psychological pain to the mother who herself is frequently a victim of circumstances contrary to her deepest hopes and desires.”  Addressing political leaders he concluded, “I again remind civil leaders that they have a duty to make courageous choices to protect life through legislative measures and to uphold the values and demands of the family through effective social policies.”  See the full speeches to both ambassadors: