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Pope Francis meets with Church leaders and Polish government officials at the start of his visit for World Youth Day.
Natalia Dueholm Natalia Dueholm

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Pope speaks of sanctity of life after World Youth Day arrival

Natalia Dueholm Natalia Dueholm

KRAKOW, Poland, July 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis arrived Wednesday for World Youth Day (WYD) on his first trip to Poland and mentioned, among other things, the sanctity of human life in his remarks to government officials.

“Life must always be welcomed and protected,” Pope Francis said. “These two things go together – welcome and protection, from conception to natural death.”

Pope Francis arrived at Wawel Castle for an official welcoming ceremony that included Polish President Andrzej Duda and wife Agata Kornhauser-Duda, Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Krakow Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz and other high-ranking state and Church officials.

Not only did the Holy Father speak about refugees, which appeared to be the main takeaway by the mainstream media, but also about national identity and the dignity of the human person. Largely ignored by the press were his statements about the protection of life from the moment of conception and until natural death. Little mention also was made by the secular media of the Pope’s praise for the Polish government’s pro-family policies.

During his speech in the city where Pope St. John Paul II spent part of his life and is revered, the Vicar of Christ talked about Poland’s “fidelity to tradition and, at the same time, openness to renewal and the future.” He spoke of “the complex phenomenon of migration,” of “those fleeing from wars and hunger” as well as emigration from Poland. He called for respect of the dignity of every person in every sphere of life.

Poland is one of the countries in Central and Eastern Europe that has not complied with the European Union's proposal for nations to accept their quota of refugees. In light of the recent Muslim extremist attacks in Europe, Poland has assured its citizens that its borders will remain sealed.

“Social policies in support of the family, the primary and fundamental cell of society, assisting underprivileged and poor families, and helping responsibly to welcome life, will thus prove even more effective,” he said.

Polish government officials who will soon vote on an abortion ban proposed by the citizens heard Pope Francis repeat the Church’s stance on abortion. “Life must always be welcomed and protected.” He added that “these two things go together – welcome and protection, from conception to natural death,” and that “All of us are called to respect life and care for it.”

Pope Francis also mentioned that the state and the Church are responsible for helping all those who find themselves in serious difficulty “so that a child will never be seen as a burden but as a gift, and those who are most vulnerable and poor will not be abandoned.”

It is unclear whether the Pope knew beforehand that Poland is implementing a pro-family law established by the ruling Law and Justice party. The 500 Plus program provides a monthly allowance of 500 zł ($135) for every child after the firstborn and is aimed at helping large families. President Duda met privately with the Pope on Wednesday night and said he spoke about it with Francis. Duda told public television channel TVP3 that “the pope was very pleased and said that it was wonderful that this program was being implemented."

President Duda also mentioned that Pope Francis noted the Polish people’s strong faith because of the country’s traditional model of a multi-generation family. According to Duda, the Pope described Poland as a "country based on tradition."

As for the youth, which is the focus of the visit, Pope Francis said they “should not simply have to deal with problems, but rather be able to enjoy the beauty of creation, the benefits we can provide, and the hope we can offer.”

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