Recent reports in the press and on television about Pope Francis' supposed shift in relation to homosexuality, abortion and contraception are either misinformed or mischievous.
On 20 September, the Pope addressed a large number of Catholic doctors who had attended the Matercare International Conference in Rome. His address was reprinted in the Catholic Online website (www.catholic.org/hf/family/story.php?id=52468).
In a clear reference to the contraceptive mentality which is so prevalent in modern society, he quoted the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, "Openness to life is at the centre of true development."
He added, "There is no true development without this openness to life. If one loses the personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away."
In relation to abortion, he said, "A widespread mentality of utility, the 'culture of waste', which now enslaves the hearts and minds of many, comes at a very high cost: it requires the elimination of human beings, especially those who are physically or socially weaker. Our response to this mentality is a decided and unhesitating 'yes' to life."
The Pope then quoted the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion: "The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some of them are very precious, but life is the fundamental good before all others."
The Pope added, "Many times, we find ourselves in situations where we see life being devalued. For this reason, in recent years attention to human life in its totality has become a real priority of the Magisterium of the Church, particularly in regard to the most defenceless, that is, the disabled, the sick, the unborn, the child, the elderly, those whose life is most defenceless."
Francis called on the Catholic doctors and medical services, including hospitals, to be outspoken witnesses for "the culture of life".
He said, "Being Catholic entails greater responsibility: first of all to yourself, for the effort to be consistent with the Christian vocation, and then to contemporary culture, to help recognise the transcendent dimension in human life, the imprint of the creative work of God, from the very first moment of conception.
"This is a commitment to the new evangelisation that often requires going against the current, paying the cost in person. The Lord counts on you to spread the 'Gospel of Life'."