Pope Francis declared on Monday that caring for migrants and the poor is as holy as opposing abortion, criticizing Catholics who see the former as a “secondary issue,” according to The New York Times.
“The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist,” Francis wrote in a 103-page apostolic exhortation. “Our defense of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned.”
Francis added that some Catholics consider caring for migrants and the poor as a “secondary issue” compared to abortion and other “grave bioethical questions.”
“That a politician looking for votes might say such a thing is understandable, but not a Christian,” he wrote. “This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.”
The declaration is meant to “re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time,” the Times reported.
“Seeing and acting with mercy: That is holiness,” Francis wrote.
The Hill added:
He encourages his followers to engage with the world and worry less about demonstrations of faith and piety. Instead, he hopes they will lovingly raise children, work hard and represent “the middle class of holiness.”
The pope has often called on his followers to open their communities to immigrants.
The new declaration is likely to be viewed by his opponents as too progressive, observers said.
In 2016, Francis gave Catholic priests the power to forgive abortions.