Vatican City -- February, 2000 -- Pope John Paul issued one of his strongest condemnations of abortion and euthanasia on Monday, saying they were tantamount to legalised crimes corrupting society.
The Pope said laws permitting abortion and euthanasia should not be seen as inevitable social necessities.
"...These (laws) are a seed of corruption in society and its foundations. Civil and moral conscience cannot accept this false inevitability, just as it cannot accept the idea that wars or inter-ethnic extermination are inevitable," he said.
The Pontiff was addressing participants at a meeting to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the release of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which branded abortion and euthanasia as unjustifiable evils.
Encyclicals are the highest form of papal writing and the world's billion Catholics are expected to obey their teachings.
Referring to "a world which shows serious symptoms of violence and decadence," the Pope said it was increasingly clear that policies and laws "opposed to life are leading society to degeneration, not only moral but also demographic and economic."
The Polish Pope said clergymen, believers and legislators should do all in their power to change the laws, though a wholesale change in mentality and habits was also required.
"They should leave no stone unturned to eliminate this legalised crime or at least to limit the damage of these laws, remaining aware of the duty to respect the right to life, from conception to the natural death of every human being, even the least gifted," he said.
Though some 97 percent of Italians declare themselves Catholic, abortion was legalized in 1978 and overwhelmingly upheld in a 1981 referendum in the southern European country.
The 79-year-old Pope appealed to scientists, doctors, teachers, families, lawyers, legislators and those working in social services to protect the right to life.
"Only in this way can we overcome this kind of silent and cruel selection which unjustly eliminates the weakest members of society," he said.
Source: Reuters, 2/14/00. Provided by The Pro-Life Infonet, a daily compilation of pro-life news and information. To subscribe, send the message "subscribe" to: infonet- firstname.lastname@example.org. Infonet is sponsored by Women and Children First (http://www.prolifeinfo.org/wcf). For more pro-life info visit http://www.prolifeinfo.org and for questions or additional information email email@example.com
"In particular, I want to emphasize that the administration of water and food . . . always represents a natural means of preservation of life, not a medical treatment." ... Pope John Paul II, Lourdes, France, August, 2004.
"True compassion leads to sharing another's pain; it does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear." ... Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1995.