Pope Francis praised America’s Roman Catholic church for its “unfailing commitment” to the pro-life cause on Wednesday, saying it was “the primary reason” for his visit to the country.
The statement came during an address to the assembled bishops of the United States. “I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit,” he said at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.
Francis called on the bishops to address a series of societal problems in the course of their work:
I encourage you, then, to confront the challenging issues of our time. Ever present within each of them is life as gift and responsibility. The future freedom and dignity of our societies depends on how we will face these challenges. The innocent victim of abortion, the children who die of hunger or from bombings, the immigrants who drown in search for a better tomorrow, the elderly or the sick who are considered a burden; the victims of terrorism, wars, violence, and drug trafficking, the environment devastated by man’s predatory relationship with nature — at stake in all of this is the gift of God, of which we are noble stewards but not masters.
The U.S. bishops wasted no time in using the pope’s remarks to press President Obama’s team on abortion. When Secretary of State John Kerry took to Twitter to hail Francis’s, “call to resolve disputes through diplomacy, address #climatechange and protect the vulnerable in our world,” they replied immediately. “Agree, John. @Pontifex reassures all of us that Catholic teachings have always treasured human life from its very beginning,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops tweeted.
— Joel Gehrke is a political reporter for National Review.