An Urgent Call to Love and Defend our Brothers and Sisters Unborn in France

(During one of his pastoral visits to France, if memory serves, Pope John Paul II urged the ‘eldest daughter of the Church’ to preserve the gif of the Faith she had been given, to become what she really is. France is rejecting her heritage, and quickly becoming what she is not, and in no way meant to be. As Father Attard urges, we pray for the culture of life to flourish, there, and across the world. There is always hope. For more details on this tragic development, see here. Editor)

It is with great regret to know that discussions are being held in France to include the right to abortion constitutionally. Unfortunately this constitutional amendment has been already voted for by the National Assembly with 493 votes against 30. Now the Senate is itself discussing the issue.

Obviously what is intrinsically wrong and is outright murder can never be made moral by democratic majority. In his final speech during his apostolic journey to Marseille for the conclusion of the “Recontres Méditerranéennes” on Saturday 23 September 2023, at the “Palais du Pharo”, Francis could not say it any better when he said: Who thinks of the unborn children, rejected in the name of a false right to progress, which is instead a retreat into the selfish needs of the individual? Can we afford rendering the supreme law, which is meant to safeguard every human life, including that in the mother’s womb, being a graveyard of human dignity where the defenceless unborn are ruthlessly exterminated?

Pope Francis heartfelt plea goes on when, in his homily at the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary de la Garde at the “Vélodrome Stadium” (Marseille), he rightly asked: Brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves honestly, from the heart: Do we believe that God is at work in our lives? Do we believe that the Lord, in hidden and often unpredictable ways, acts in history, performs wonders, and is working even in our societies that are marked by worldly secularism and a certain religious indifference? Let us not also forget what he said on the return flight from Bratislava on Wednesday 15 September 2021: Abortion is a homicide… Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to kill a human life?” And in his Catechesis of October 20, 2021, the Holy Father said: Freedom grows with love but with the love we see in Christ, charity: this is truly free and liberating love.

Adding to this, the Holy See has expressed opposition to a French initiative aiming to enshrine abortion rights in the national Constitution by rightly asking: How is it possible to enshrine a norm that allows the death of a person in the fundamental Charter of a State while at the same time protecting the human person?

 The Bishops of France did not hesitate to openly denounce such a constitutional move. They staunchly believe that human embryos should never be treated as materials and not people. A powerful example of such a dignified move to defend the human life of the unborn is the press release issued by Monsignro Marc Aillet, Bishop of Bayonne, Lescar and Oloron on the inclusion of abortion in the French constitution given on March 1, 2024. Here is the clear, enlightening and responsible appeal:

It is with dismay that we learn the results of the Senate vote, following the National Assembly, paving the way for the inclusion in the French Constitution of “the freedom guaranteed to women to have recourse to IVG”. Only 50 senators courageously stood up against the dominant ideology. It is a new advance in the “culture of death” (John Paul II) or the “culture of waste”, so decried by Pope Francis.

France, which already holds the sad record for the annual number of abortions (233,000 in 2022), will be one of the first countries to include abortion in the Constitution as a fundamental right, a performance which should certainly shame us. Is the political class so devoid of ethical conscience to achieve such a deplorable result? Will the deputies and senators allow themselves to be challenged by these strong words of Saint John Paul II:

When a parliamentary or social majority decrees the legitimacy of the suppression of human life not yet born, even under certain conditions, do not take is it not a ‘tyrannical’ decision towards the weakest and defenseless human being? The universal conscience rightly reacts to crimes against humanity of which our century has had the sad experience. Would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimized by popular assent? » (Gospel of Life, 70).

What is presented as a victory for women’s rights is in reality a new attack against human life at its beginning, in other words: an “abominable crime” (Second Vatican Council), the “deliberate murder of a human person innocent”, as Pope Saint John Paul II forcefully recalled.

Isn’t there an offense against science, a sort of scientific regression, when we invoke “the woman’s right to control her body”, as if modern genetics had not shown for a long time that the embryo is from the first fertilized cell a living organism, distinct from that of its mother and whose DNA molecule contains all the genetic information which will make this embryo such or such a human person, with all its specific characteristics?

Through this constitutional bill, we claim to neither more nor less value women against the unborn child who remains largely forgotten in the debates. In doing so, we are far from solving the problem of women, who are often forced to abort due to social and economic difficulties, with around 70% of women resorting to abortion. The numerous confidences received in the confessional from women who have had abortions – and many psychologists could say the same – confirm us in the idea that abortion is always a tragedy and a source of profound trauma for the woman.

Will the parliamentarians, meeting in Congress on March 4, honor themselves with an illumination of conscience or will they become responsible in the face of the history of the greatest transgression of all, that of the prohibition on killing? In any case: God will be the demanding judge of any violation of the commandment ‘thou shalt not kill’, placed at the basis of all the conviviality of society. He is the ‘goel’, that is to say the defender of the innocent (Gospel of Life, 53).

I therefore invite the faithful of the diocese who can to pray and fast for this purpose on Monday, March 4, when Congress will be called upon to ratify this constitutional bill.

I strongly urge everyone to pray and fast on Monday 4 March so that human life is defended and not killed in the name of a right which does not exist at all on the map of humanity. Let us urgently support and strongly defend by our love, prayers and fasting our brothers and sisters unborn in France.

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Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap was born in San Gwann on August 26 1972. After being educated in governmental primary and secondary schools as well as at the Naxxar Trade School he felt the call to enter the Franciscan Capuchin Order. After obtaining the university requirements he entered the Capuchin friary at Kalkara on October 12 1993. A year after he was ordained a priest, precisely on 4 September 2004, his superiors sent him to work with patients as a chaplain first at St. Luke's Hospital and later at Mater Dei. In 2007 Fr Mario obtained a Master's Degree in Hospital Chaplaincy from Sydney College of Divinity, University of Sydney, Australia. From November 2007 till March 2020 Fr Mario was one of the six chaplains who worked at Mater Dei Hospital., Malta's national hospital. Presently he is a chaplain at Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre. Furthermore, he is a regular contributor in the MUMN magazine IL-MUSBIEĦ, as well as doing radio programmes on Radio Mario about the spiritual care of the sick.