POPE John Paul II said abortion was "one of the most dramatic problems of our age" which, combined with declining births and an aging of the population, threatens the very future of some nations.

The Pope spoke in St Peter's Square Feb 5 to several thousand banner-waving Italians, who had marched through Rome to celebrate the Italian Right to Life Day. His remarks came during renewed debate over the practice of abortion in Italy, where Catholic leaders are pushing for a more strict application of the existing law in order to limit the number of abortions.

The Pope said the future of humanity "is threatened in some nations by the drop in births, by demographic aging, by the widespread recourse to abortion and by the thousand forms of egoism."

"A new culture of solidarity is needed. The life of everyone, even the life asking to be born, even the life that is ill or weak or in decline, is an absolute and inviolable good," he said.

About 4,000 people led by Cardinal Ugo Poletti, vicar of Rome, marched through downtown Rome to the Vatican, where they were joined by about 10,000 other pilgrims and tourists. The Pope said the march was an example of what he had in mind in his recent document on the laity, in which he asked lay Catholics to make the church's position on abortion "concrete" and effective.

He said he hoped the initiative would increase the sense of "common awareness and co-responsibility for one of the most dramatic problems of our age." (NC)

The Catholic News, Sunday, Mar 19, 1989

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