Pope Francis receives a gift from a member of the board of directors of Italy’s pro-life movement during a Vatican audience Feb. 2, 2019, in the Clementine hall of the apostolic palace. (CNS, via Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Appealing to the world’s leaders and policymakers, Pope Francis called for protecting the unborn and seeing these new lives as people who will bring new beginnings and hope for the future.

Each and every new life conceived — “they are children of the entire community, and their being killed in large numbers with the backing of the state constitutes a grave problem that undermines the foundations of the building up of justice, compromising the correct solution for every other human and social problem,” he said.

The pope made his remarks during an audience Feb. 2 with the board of directors of Italy’s pro-life movement. Italy celebrated its national day for life Feb. 3.

Pope Francis holds a replica of a fetus presented by a couple wearing T-shirts with the message in Portuguese, “Stop Abortion,” during the offertory at the closing Mass of World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in this July 28, 2013, file photo. The pope had met the couple, who have a baby girl with anencephaly (missing part of her brain), the previous day and invited them to participate in the Mass. (CNS, via L’Osservatore Romano)

The pope said the celebration offered him the opportunity to make “an appeal to all politicians, regardless of each person’s faith belief, to treat the defense of the lives of those who are about to be born and enter into society as the cornerstone of the common good.”

He said every new life comes into the world to bring “newness, the future and hope.”

May leaders not let themselves be “conditioned by mindsets that focus on personal success or immediate or one-sided interests,” but rather look at the long term and the good of everyone, he said.

“To voluntarily extinguish life in its blossoming is, in every case, a betrayal of our vocation, as well as of the pact that ties generations together” and allows people to look forward with hope, he said.

Pope Francis again underlined that protecting life means protecting the entire life span of a person and promoting all that is needed for living in a “dignified manner,” including good health, education and job opportunities.

The pope made another appeal on the day for life Feb. 3 after praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, saying it was increasingly important that there be a “concrete commitment” to life by all cultural and social groups, associations and institutions, and to recognize the family as the “generative source” of a community.