WASHINGTON (January 21, 1998) -- In a message to Cardinal Bernard Law on the 25th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade abortion decisions, Pope John Paul II said "legalized abortion has been a destructive force in the lives of many individuals, especially women who are often left alone to bear the deep sorrow and regret which follow the decision to destroy the life of an unborn child."
"But the proliferation of procured abortions has also had deleterious effects on society at large, not least in a weakening of respect for the life of the elderly and the infirm, and a coarsening of the moral sense," the Pope said. "When the killing of the innocent is sanctioned by law, the distinction between good and evil is obscured and society is led to justify even such clearly immoral procedures as partial-birth abortion."
"Amid the grave threats to human dignity and freedom represented by abortion, euthanasia and other crimes against God's gift of life, it is a positive sign of the times that, through the efforts of a broad spectrum of concerned citizens, there has been a gradual mobilization of consciences in support of life," the Pope stated.
Pope John Paul's message was read during the annual Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, January 21. In the message, delivered by Archbishop Agostino Cacciavillan, Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to the United States, the Pope gave assurances to participants in the Vigil of his "spiritual closeness and my sharing in your concern."
"The twenty-fifth anniversary of the decision which effectively legalized abortion on demand in the United States is a call to people of good will to reflect seriously on the devastating consequences of that step," Pope John Paul said. "Now is the time for recommitment to the building of a culture of absolute respect for life from conception to natural death," he urged.
Attached is the full text of the Pope's letter to Cardinal Law, who is Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities.