RHODE ISLAND, September 16, 2013 ( – In a wide-ranging interview about Pope Francis, Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin expressed frankly his wish that the Holy Father would speak more directly about the evil of abortion.

“I’m a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn’t, at least that I’m aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed that,” he told the Rhode Island Catholic. “I think it would be very helpful if Pope Francis would address more directly the evil of abortion and to encourage those who are involved in the pro-life movement.” 

Two other American bishops have addressed Pope Francis’ non-use of the ‘a-word’: Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, one of the eight Cardinal-advisors to the Pope, and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. 


Speaking at the Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus last month, Cardinal O’Malley said: “Some people think that the Holy Father should talk more about abortion.” O’Malley said, however, “I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church’s teaching on abortion. We oppose abortion, not because we are mean or old fashioned, but because we love people. And that is what we must show the world.” 

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Similarly, Archbishop Chaput, in a July interview with the National Catholic Reporter, responded to a question about the Pope not using the words “abortion,” “gay marriage” and “euthanasia.” After warning against quick judgment of the pontificate, the archbishop said, “I think the pope has spoken very clearly about the value of human life. He hasn't expressed those things in a combative way, and perhaps that's what some are concerned about, but I can't imagine that he won't be as pro-life and pro-traditional marriage as any of the other popes have been in the past.” 

Responding to a follow-up question about the Pope wanting to stay out of political issues, Chaput said, “For me, issues such as abortion and the meaning of marriage aren't political issues; they're doctrinal and moral. We all as bishops, including the bishop of Rome, have to talk about those things.” 

Bishop Tobin, concluded his remarks on the Pope and the abortion issue, saying: “It’s one thing for him to reach out and embrace and kiss little children and infants as he has on many occasions. It strikes me that it would also be wonderful if in a spiritual way he would reach out and embrace and kiss unborn children.” 

While Pope Francis has not used the word abortion, he has engaged in the issue several times in the first six months of his pontificate.  While the events and statements received little coverage in the mainstream media, followed them closely. 

The day after his election in March he was videotaped blessing an unborn child in the womb of his mother. The pope’s Good Friday stations of the cross in April, penned by a trio of Catholic youth, prayed for the conversion for those who promote abortion and euthanasia.  In May, Pope Francis shocked participants of Rome’s March for Life by coming out to meet with them. In June, as part of a special day celebrating Pope John Paul II’s pro-life encyclical The Gospel of Life, Pope Francis greeted pro-life leaders from around the world.

During World Youth Day in July, the Pope personally asked that a couple who refused to abort their seriously ill baby bring up the offertory gifts at the concluding Mass. Recently the Pope also telephoned a woman pregnant out of wedlock who wrote to him telling how she rejected abortion, and offered to baptize her baby. 

In August Pope Francis noted that parents must teach their children reverence for life in the womb.


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