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Cardinal Parolin: “How can we think abortion is a right?”

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 05/01/24

In an interview with Italian newspaper Avvenire, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s number 2, spoke about abortion, the conflicts in the world, and AI.

“When you attack life in such a radical way, you really have to wonder what kind of future we want to build.” This is how Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s secretary of state, characterized the political discussions in Europe calling to recognize abortion as a “fundamental right.”

In a wide-ranging interview published April 27, 2024, with Avvenire, an Italian newspaper owned by the bishops’ conference, the Pope’s number two spoke also about the Holy See’s role in the conflicts affecting the world and the Pontiff’s concern for how artificial intelligence will be used. 

“I feel deep in my heart a great sadness, I don’t even have the words to express it adequately,” Cardinal Parolin said with regards to the discussions on recognizing abortion as a fundamental right. “How can we think that abortion is a right? That it ensures a future for our society? I don’t understand. I really don’t understand.”

On April 11 the European Parliament, the legislative body of the European Union, voted to include the access to abortion in the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. Although this vote was not binding and was seen more as symbolic, it was still supported by important political figures and reflects a wider political discussion taking place in many parts of the world. Next June, Europeans across the continent will be able to vote to elect their members of Parliament for the next five years. 

Cardinal Parolin responded to Avvenire’s question on the margins of the national convention of an Italian charismatic movement in Rimini, Italy. 

The impact of the Pope’s appeals in Russia and Ukraine

Cardinal Parolin was also asked if Pope Francis’ recent appeal for “a general exchange of all prisoners” between Ukraine and Russia, during his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday, had been well received. 

“I think so. I don’t have specific information, but from what I’ve heard there has already been a movement in this direction. And so the Pope’s appeal has been received and acted upon,” the Secretary of State said.

He also highlighted the “great value” of Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi’s work for peace last year as a papal envoy to Ukraine, China, Russia, and the US. The Italian prelate’s mission focused especially on trying to return Ukrainian children who had been taken to Russia. 

Cardinal Parolin said that Cardinal Zuppi’s mission had “helped set in motion this mechanism of the exchange of children” and “remains open to any other developments.” 

“We believe that it is precisely this focus on the humanitarian aspects – as far as both prisoners and children are concerned – that can create the conditions to arrive at negotiations and, we hope, an end to the war,” Cardinal Parolin explained. 

Church reiterates call for 2-state solution in Holy Land

“We are moving diplomatically to try to find a way out. […] But it seems to me that there could be, indeed that there are solutions,” Cardinal Parolin said with regards to the conflict in the Holy Land.

“When we think about the two-state formula, there is a concrete proposal that we should move toward. […] Of course, the first thing is to end hostilities and ensure at least a truce.”

He also reiterated that the Holy See “is and remains available” for a mediation, should the belligerent parties wish it, for “all contexts of war.” 

The Church’s role in promoting an ethical view of AI

Cardinal Parolin was also asked about Pope Francis’ participation at the G7 summit, which will take place next June in Bari, southern Italy. On April 26, 2024, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced that Pope Francis had accepted the invitation to attend the meeting of world leaders to participate in a session dedicated to artificial intelligence. 

Cardinal Parolin explained he saw “in this invitation the request for ethical criteria” to deal with the issue of artificial intelligence. Pope Francis has often spoken about this topic and called for an ethical development of new technologies, and the Vatican has also engaged in promoting this. 

“The request for a word from the Church, and in particular from the Pope, goes precisely in the direction of giving guidance on this issue that is of great relevance and also at the same time of great concern,” Cardinal Parolin said.

The Pope’s number two also highlighted that this high-level meeting will be an opportunity to continue appealing for peace. The Pontiff “is therefore ready to use all the means and spaces offered to him, to try to rebuild the fabric of the international community that has recently been ripped apart and is unfortunately finding it difficult to be reassembled,” the cardinal said. 

AbortionArtificial IntelligenceHoly LandUkraineWar
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