As day at last dawns on the Westernmost regions of the United States of America, her people face a stark choice: while neither candidate has a positive track record on abortion, one promises to be the most pro-abortion, anti-life president in the nation’s 240-year history, while the other makes a newly-minted promise to defend life. The decision made today in the elections of the waning but still-most-powerful nation on earth will have ripple effects throughout the remainder of our lifetimes.
It is on this momentous occasion that Pope Francis, an astute master of symbolic gestures, has chosen to meet with Emma Bonino, Italy’s most famous (and unrepentant) promoter of abortion — and his personal friend. If you are unfamiliar with the name, Bonino is a radical politician and former abortionist who claims to have performed as many as 10,000 abortions in a single year. As Hilary White wrote earlier this year:
In 2010, after I had lived in Italy about two years and had begun to understand the byzantine complexities of this country’s politics, Emma Bonino decided to run for the office of governor of the region of Lazio. Once I found out what kind of person she was, I was seized with the urge to buy a crate of spray paint and go around Rome writing, “10,000 bambini assassinati non abbastanza per Emma ‘la Bicicletta’ Bonino,” on all her posters. “10,000 murdered babies not enough for Emma ‘the bicycle’ Bonino.” I thought of it every time I got off the train at St. Peter’s station in Rome where her face was plastered on nearly every surface. Somehow, I was disuaded from this course of action, and now I wish I had done it. Instead I wrote a few articles about her, and what she stood for, by way of an introduction to English speaking pro-life readers.
It didn’t get around much in the English language press, but this month, the same woman has been praised by Pope Francis. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the pope, the Vicar of Christ, called Sra. Bonino, “among the great ones of today’s Italy.” The pontiff mentioned her work as foreign minister in Africa: “She offered the best service to Italy to learn about Africa.”
“They say: ‘This is a person who thinks very differently from us [Catholics].’ True, but never mind. We have to look at people, at what they do,” the pope said.
Well, that’s reasonable enough. We do need to look at what they do; quite right. By their fruits ye shall know them, as the expression goes.
A brief resume: Emma Bonino entered Italian politics as a radical feminist and leftist extremist in the ‘70s after she had already made her name synonymous with illegal abortion. She boasted in the press of having invented a hand-held vacuum aspirator out of a jam jar and a bicycle pump, and has since continued to claim that using that device she had personally killed 10,000 “unwanted” children. She is, in short, the Henry Morgentaler of Italy.
This, after he waded into American politics again just a few days ago by condemning “physical and social walls” that “close in some and exclude others” — a clear dig at Presidential Candidate Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall on the US/Mexico border. America Magazine reported more from that speech:
The pope said on Saturday that Christians should not give into the temptation to build walls, even in the face of “hateful and cowardly attacks,” a reference to global terrorism.
“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he said, “all walls fall.”
The speech, given in Spanish to representatives of grassroots social justice organizations from 60 countries, included a lengthy a quote from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Francis has previously held up the civil rights leader as a great American in his speech to the U.S. Congress last year and he included a quote from King in “Amoris Laetitia,” his apostolic letter about family life.
On Saturday, the pope invoked King to urge the audience to combat fear with bridge building and love.
Francis said “mercy is the best antidote against fear” and that it “is much more effective than walls, that barbed wire fences, than alarms and arms, and it is free. It is the gift of God.”
He also touched on the need for individuals at the grassroots level “to revitalize” democracy around the world that are imperiled due to “the enormous power of economic and media groups that seem to dominate” and repeated his condemnation of placing money above human beings.
Christians have a duty, he said, to be active in political life, but he warned against corruption and arrogance.
“Anyone who is too attached to material things or the mirror, who likes money, lush banquets, sumptuous mansions, refined suits, luxury cars,” he said, should avoid going into politics—as well as the seminary. Instead, political leaders must lead by example, living frugally and humbly.
Francis also offered some advice on how to fight terrorism and oppression, saying, “the best antidote is love. Love heals everything.”
Love heals everything? Love does not bring back the 10,000 babies killed by Emma Bonino, many with a modified bicycle pump. But she and Pope Francis agree about walls and migrants and refugees, it seems — all things he apparently prioritzes over the unmitigated slaughter of little childredn in the womb.
Message received, Holy father. Message received.