Pope: Abortion 'an abominable crime'
3rd day of papal visit to Rio De Janeiro
October 4, 1997
Web posted at: 11:07 p.m. EDT (0307 GMT)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (CNN) -- Pope John Paul II Saturday
issued one of his strongest-ever condemnations of abortion,
calling on Roman Catholics to fight what he called an
The pope, on the third day of a four-day trip to Brazil,
invoked the name of the late Mother Teresa in his
anti-abortion remarks, given before a crowed of more than
100,000 people at a rally at the Maracana stadium in Rio de
"How many times did we hear Mother Teresa's lips proclaim the
priceless value of life from the moment of conception in the
maternal womb?" the pope said. "Death has silenced those
lips, but Mother Teresa's message in favor of life continues
to be more vibrant and convincing than ever."
"May the abominable crime of abortion, shame of humanity, not
condemn the unborn to the most unjust execution -- that of
the most innocent human beings," he said.
Brazil, the world's largest Roman Catholic country, is in the
throes of a debate over abortion. The church, which opposes
abortion, is campaigning against a bill that would make it
easier for Brazilian women to obtain abortions in cases of
rape or if their health is in danger.
Pope: Neglecting young 'irresponsible'
Inside the giant Maracana stadium, usually a temple to
soccer, a light show transformed the arena into a virtual
cathedral, complete with simulated stained glass windows.
In his remarks, John Paul told the crowd that a society that
neglected its young was "inhuman and irresponsible."
Abandoned children, known as "meninos de rua" (street
children) are a major problem in big Brazilian cities, where
they have sometimes become the target of right-wing death
"Households that do not fully educate their children, who
abandon them, commit a very grave injustice for which they
will have to account before the tribunal of God," the pope
Earlier in the day, the pope extolled family unity at a Mass
at Rio's Metropolitan Cathedral, attended by both bishops and
Vatican denies report about hip surgery
John Paul, who has been increasingly frail in recent years,
appeared to be holding up well since he arrived on Thursday
to preside over an international family rights gathering in
"He is healthy and in good spirits," chief Vatican spokesman
Joaquin Navarro-Valls told reporters.
Vatican officials firmly denied a report Friday in a German
newspaper that the pope may undergo an operation to install
an artificial hi
p. The report quoted a doctor who said he was
in talks with the Vatican about the surgery.
"The cited doctor ... has never visited the Holy Father,"
spokesman Navarro-Valls said. "The hypothesis that is being
referred to -- surgical operation to correct a functional
insufficiency of the right hip -- has never been taken into
On Sunday, John Paul is scheduled to preside over an open-air
Mass near the city's beach front. As many as 2 million people
are expected to attend. The pope will then return to Rome.
Rio de Janeiro Bureau Chief Marina Mirabella and Reuters contributed to this report.